Understanding Students With Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes individuals to have recurring seizures which occur because a cluster of nerve cells, or neurons, send out the wrong signals through the nervous system. The signals cause people to experience strange sensations, varying emotions and they may behave abnormally. Epilepsy can be caused by a variety of things including abnormal brain development, brain injury, or illness. Children who have epilepsy typically are of normal intelligence and can perform at the same levels academically and socially as their peers. Students who experience the most difficulty in educational environments are those with severe forms of epilepsy where seizures are not controlled or they are on a variety of anti-epilepsy medications. When a student has frequent seizures they can greatly impact the child’s acquisition of skills and knowledge. If this physical disability is congenital, the child may have started their educational experience behind their peers, and will therefore lack certain foundational skills and knowledge as they progress through school. It is also possible for individuals with epilepsy to experience subclinical seizures which are not obvious to those around them but they disrupt normal brain functions and ultimately affect the learning process. If a student is taking more than one anti-epileptic drugs, there can be severe side effects that influence the success of their learning. Some of the effects described in the article include decreased alertness and attention, fluctuations in mood, and slowing of the fine motor skills.

In order to accommodate appropriately for students with epilepsy, teachers should first and foremost treat that student like any other student, holding them to the same expectations and integrating their physical disability into the culture of the classroom. Students who are taking medications may require a review of the lesson when he/she is feeling more aware and alert. If one is not already available, the teacher should suggest to parents that a learning profile be completed so that remediative and compensatory strategies can be defined for the student. This will also help in addressing the learning and social-emotional needs of the student. The article also suggests discussing how one would respond to epileptic seizures and the causes of epilepsy so that all students become more familiar with the disability. This will help to create a culture of acceptance where the student can feel supported and understood. I believe that the suggestions provided by this article can be used with a variety of disabilities. In my own classroom, I have found that promoting a culture of acceptance is extremely important whether or not there are students in the room with a disability. Everyone is a unique individual and we as educators must promote a positive classroom culture at all times in order to teach our students the importance of equality and acceptance.

1. BC Epilepsy Society. www.bcepilepsy.com/pdfs/Understanding_Studen.pdf.

This wikipedian research has been provided by Emily Greenlee.