Epilepsy and schooling
If epilepsy does not affect a child's normal educational ability and their seizures are under control, they should go to school like any other child of their age and play a full part in the classroom. In practically 85% of cases this situation of completely normal schooling applies, although ignorance may sometimes result in discrimination.
In such cases, the student's educational development may be normal in most aspects although there may be some areas in which their performance may decrease slightly:
- in some cases medication may cause a lack of concentration or less fluid thought processes
- social aspects of the disease
- lower participation in sport, team activities and after-school activities
In the other 15% of cases the child may have:
- one-off or frequent seizures
- a lower level of intelligence
- a specific neurocognitive deficit
- learning disabilities
In the least serious cases some extra tuition or psychotherapy in the school itself may be required. For those who have more serious symptoms, it is recommended to change to a school that focuses more on an integrated classroom or specialised centres.
Recommendations for parents
- Inform the school about the effects of the disease and how seizures are controlled.
- Encourage physical activity.
- Get involved in social activities so your child can also take part
- Build your child's self-esteem by talking about their diagnosis positively, acknowledging achievements and strengths, including them in decision-making, etc.
Recommendations for teachers
Recommendations for teachers who have children with epilepsy in their class may include:
- Find out what kind of epilepsy the child has and how it affects their behaviour and mood, as well as their educational development.
- Find out the basic guidelines for how to react to a seizure.
- Tell the child's classmates what epilepsy means so they have a positive understanding that it is possible to easily live with the disease.
- Collaborate with the family to encourage good habits regarding medication, meals and sleep and maintain fluid communication.
- Speak openly about epilepsy if the situation requires it.
- Avoid treating them differently from their classmates.
- If you find they have any specific learning difficulties, speak to the family right away.
- It is also possible to gain knowledge and learn teaching techniques to encourage learning by children with epilepsy, depending on each specific case: adapting the kind of language you use, helping them organise their materials with colours, checking their development from time to time, etc.
- Have the child with epilepsy sit in a part of the classroom with plenty of space and no objects that could injure them if they have a seizure. Pay special attention in classes in which materials are used that could be dangerous if they have a seizure.