School’s starting! Many parents may secretly look forward to this time of year. Yet parents of children with seizures may also feel anxious or scared, for example…
- Will their child be safe at school?
- Will school personnel know what to do if a seizure occurs?
- Will their child have problems learning and keeping up?
- Will they have trouble making friends or be bullied for having epilepsy?
- How can parents prepare their child to manage seizures at school?
There is no one answer to these questions. Epilepsy is a spectrum disorder- this means that here are many different types of seizures and epilepsy, and they can affect children differently.
Some children will do very well, with well-controlled seizures and little to no consequences. Others don’t do well. They may have occasional seizures or very frequent ones. There could be other neurological, medical or social problems too. These problems can affect the child’s safety, learning, mood, movement, friendships, and ability to participate or succeed in school.
As a parent, you are your child’s best advocate. This is a hard job and you can’t do it alone. You also don’t want to “overprotect” your child. The best way of advocating for your child is speaking up and working with school personnel so they understand your child’s epilepsy experience and how best to help him succeed in school.
Here are some tips and links to information and resources from the Epilepsy Foundation to help you get started.
Know what type of seizures your child has, what to expect and facts about treating seizures in your child.
- Epilepsy is different for everyone and issues may vary for children of different ages. Visit our Epilepsy and Youth section to learn more.
- If you are new to seizures and epilepsy, download the Epilepsy and My Child Toolkit, available in English and Spanish.
Know what to do when your child has a seizure and if a rescue treatment may be needed.
- Everyone should know basic seizure first aid. We call this “care and comfort” first aid.
- Some children may have been prescribed a rescue therapy by their doctor in addition to their daily medication. Rescue therapies are meant to stop clusters of seizures and prevent seizure emergencies.
- Learn about rescue treatments for seizures and if this may be needed for your child.
- If your child has been prescribed a rescue medication for school, make sure it’s tried first at home so you know how your child responds to it.
- If your child has a vagus nerve stimulator, they may use a magnet when a seizure occurs.
Develop a seizure response plan (also called action plans) with your child’s epilepsy care team and the school nurse.
- A Seizure Response Plan is critical to have. It serves as a way to communicate important information about your child’s seizures and what to do. Learn how to make a Seizure Response Plan.
- Visit our Toolbox to find all the forms you may need.
Help your school nurse learn how to manage seizures in the school setting.
Plans are only good if people know how to use them! The Epilepsy Foundation’s training program for school nurses gives an overview of epilepsy, treatment, first aid, and seizure response plans.
- “Managing Students with Seizures” training for school nurses is available online.
- Connect your school nurse with the local Epilepsy Foundation affiliate near you for in-person training.
Help your child’s teachers, other school personnel, and after-school child care personnel learn about seizures.
Teachers, aides, and other school personnel are the people who interact with children the most. Make sure they know about these resources.
- Epilepsy Classroom
- Education programs for teachers and other school personnel
- Training for after-school and other child care personnel is provided by your local Epilepsy Foundation affiliate.
Talk to your child about seizures and help her learn how to talk about it with others.
- Talking about seizures can be hard. Some people mistakenly share wrong information or beliefs about seizures that can make kids (and parents) worry or feel different. Explore how to talk to kids about seizures and start early.
- Connect with other parents in our forums and chat room
- Visit www.talkaboutit.org to help get the conversations going!
I hope these links and resources give parents and school personnel a starting point for back to school. Expand your team to include the school nurse, teachers and other school personnel who may need to be aware of and educated about epilepsy. You’ll be glad you did!
Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN
Associate Editor/Community Manager