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Epilepsy Explained: Talking to Your Child’s Teacher

Markus Reuber, MD, PhD, MRCP is a Senior Lecturer in Neurology at the University of Sheffield. Steven C. Schachter, MD is a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Christian E. Elger, MD, PhD, FRCP is a Professor of Epileptology, University of Bonn.  Ulrich Altrup, MD a Professor of Experimental Epileptology at the University of Munster, together they wrote Epilepsy Explained: A Book For People Who Want To Know More.  The book is both concise and comprehensive, truly full of the information you need and explanations on why you need to know it.  Below we have excerpted a bit about how parents should approach the problems epileptic children face at school.

Parents Should Tell Teachers About Their Child’s Epilepsy

When teachers know that a child has epilepsy, they can try to help.  Teachers will understand that a child’s performance can vary if antiepileptic drugs have to be changed.  Teachers can also try to make sure that a child with epilepsy is accepted by their classmates and does not feel excluded.

Most children with epilepsy are otherwise healthy.  Often, the only thing they know about their seizures is how people around them will react to the attacks.  Poorly informed adults may react to seizures  with fear or panic, which the children may not understand at all.

In some children, epileptic seizures are caused by other diseases, for instance disorders of the body’s metabolism.  Such children may have other problems as well as epilepsy.

Children who only have epilepsy can do just as well at school at other children.

Like all students, those with epilepsy should feel safe and accepted.

Whether these goals are achieved depends on other people’s understanding of epilepsy, their ability to respond to seizures, and their beliefs about the abilities of students with epilepsy.

Epilepsy education and awareness should be part of the school curriculum whenever one or more students at the school have epilepsy.  Because seizures are unpredictable, anyone at school may need to respond to a seizure.  Epilepsy education usually involves bringing in outside speakers from a local Epilepsy Foundation affiliate or a nearby epilepsy center.

Ideally, epilepsy education should begin before there is a crisis at school, rather than after a seizure has caught everyone by surprise.  Therefore, the parents of a child with epilepsy (or college students themselves) should consider notifying the school before classes start.  Discussion of the best response to a seizure can be supplemented with specific instructions from the student’s doctor and input from the school nurse and health educator.

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3 Responses to “Epilepsy Explained: Talking to Your Child’s Teacher”
  1. Robyn says:

    And on the reverse side of this… If you are a teacher and notice something different about a student, be sure to talk to the parents. When I was in third grade my teacher called my name out and I just stared so she spoke with my parents and after a few tests I was diagnosed with petite-mal seizures. Sometimes speaking out about things leaves to a positive outcome.

  2. Dr. Davis says:

    Telling a teacher about epilepsy is a good idea. It gives the teacher the opportunity to learn how to react, should the child have seizures.

    Also, letting the teacher know about diabetes is good. I had a friend who was allowed to sleep through three classes, because the teachers were trying to be nice. He was in a diabetic coma.

    Some teachers do not react well to learning of illness in students though and parents need to be prepared for that.

  3. Debbie Dunn says:

    What can a teacher say to a new student who has epilepsy?

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