For Parents

Your Child at School

Having seizures at school can be socially damaging to a child and frightening to others. However, it doesn't have to be.

A well-informed, confident teacher and a supportive school nurse and school administration can make all the difference in the world.

There are several steps parents can take to create a more accepting school environment for a child.

Meeting the teacher

First, take time to meet with your child's teacher before the beginning of each school year to discuss how epilepsy affects your child, what type of seizures he or she has, and how you would like the teacher to handle the seizures when they occur.

Since seizures are a common problem, many teachers will have had other students with epilepsy. If your child's teacher is unfamiliar with seizures and would like information about them, contact your local Epilepsy Foundation.

Videos, pamphlets and first aid presentations available from the Epilepsy Foundation have a basic message: that students with seizures belong in school and are in no way any kind of threat to other children.

With information, reassurance, and plenty of opportunities to ask questions, other children can also learn to take seizures in stride and continue to accept the child who has them.

But gaining acceptance is not the only challenge for children with seizures.

Achievement

While many children with epilepsy test within the same range as other children, and are quite normal and healthy, their achievement at school may be lower.

There may be several reasons for this, including side effects from the medication, days spent out of school for tests or doctor visits, and anxiety about having seizures at school. Memory or attention may also be affected.

After a seizure a child may be unable to remember anything that happened the previous day or immediately afterwards. Testing for learning disabilities may reveal specific difficulties related to where the seizures are occurring in the child’s brain.

Special Planning

Some children with epilepsy will need specialized planning, with goals and objectives carefully spelled out, developed in partnership between the parent and the school.

School activities should be open to all children, including children with seizures.

Various federal laws (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act) and state laws protect children with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability.