How parents can help their child with epilepsy

Parents should to inform teachers of any changes that may affect their child’s seizures, and ensure teachers are familiar with the necessary safety and first aid procedures for dealing with seizures. A teacher who understands the situation and reacts appropriately (e.g. administers first aid, calms other children) will be less anxious and more confident if the child has a seizure.

It is very important for children with epilepsy to engage in many of the same types of activities in which they would have been involved if they did not have a seizure disorder. Failure to do so may jeopardize the child’s educational and social development. Parents must motivate and encourage their child to complete homework and engage in extra curricular activities. Teachers and parents who lower their expectations for children with epilepsy because of their own misunderstandings or fears may contribute to serious repercussions.

Possible consequences of lowering expectations

  • lack of motivation by the child
  • decreased interest by the child
  • the child’s lowered self-esteem
  • lack of competitiveness

Remember: Epilepsy is not and should not be held as a barrier to education.

Learning is an ongoing process and continues throughout our lifetime. If you are an adult with epilepsy, consider going back to school. Upgrading your skills and pursuing further education can be a rewarding experience leading to greater life fulfillment.

Informing the school

Many teachers and administrators have never seen a seizure and may be uncomfortable dealing with a child who has them. Parent should ensure that the school gets accurate information about epilepsy, first aid, seizure types, and the possible effects of anticonvulsant medication. If you wish, your local epilepsy organization can contact the school for you and provide this information. If seizures are not well controlled, it may be a good idea to educate the other children in the class. Many epilepsy organizations can provide Kids on the Block, a puppet show designed to educate grade-schoolers about epilepsy and other health-related issues.

Parents will want to provide the school with specific information about their child. This should include:

  • the type of seizures
  • a description of the seizures
  • warning signs (if any)
  • procedures to follow during seizures
  • medications taken by the child
  • side effects of medications and/or seizures
  • the name of your doctor
  • triggers for your child’s seizures (e.g. strobe lights)

The school will need your permission to share pertinent information with the appropriate personnel. (See our Resource page for information sheets and teaching aids to help you educate others about epilepsy.)

Tips for Parents

It will help if the teacher knows all of the things that your child can do. If there are special instructions or precautions, which must be followed, then share all this information with your child’s teacher. Having an informed teacher who is comfortable with seizures should give your child freedom to take part in the various activities the school offers.

Learning also occurs when your child is playing with other children, developing friendships and sharing. If other children tease your child about epilepsy, it may tend to separate your child from his/her peers. Again, both teachers and parents can be instrumental in supporting the child. A teacher who is knowledgeable about epilepsy and the impact seizures can have on a child’s life, can share this information with the class and influence the way in which other children in the class responds to your child with epilepsy. Your child must also be equipped with information and self confidence to deal with other people’s responses.

General Guidelines

  • Inform both the school and your child’s teacher specifically that most seizures are not a medical emergency.
  • Help your child to understand epilepsy. It is important to openly talk with your child about seizures.
  • Give your child the words to explain his/her seizures to classmates and teachers.
  • Your child may have a seizure in school. Suggest to the teacher that a nap for your child would be preferable to sending him/her home. This would help everyone to avoid the inaccurate concept of illness.
  • Contact your local epilepsy organization if you run into difficulty. It can help advocate, mediate and solve problems with your school and help explain seizures to school staff.

Click here to learn more about epilepsy and education.