Uschi Stickroth, Helpline & Information Officer, at Epilepsy Scotland provides information on what to expect from our new teachers guide and how it can help teachers look after children living with epilepsy.
This week will see teachers across Scotland get back into the classroom after their summer break.
As a teacher you could be the first adult to see a child having an epileptic seizure.
Or a parent may tell you that their child has epilepsy.
Our new teachers guide provides basic information about epilepsy and will help teachers understand the condition and how it can affect a child’s learning.
The guide also helps teachers recognise seizures and how to deal with them. There is also a reference section at the back of the booklet providing a quick summary of the key points and issues to consider.
Epilepsy and learning
For many children, their epilepsy will not affect their behaviour or learning ability.
However, we know children with epilepsy do underperform at school and achieve less than expected.
There are many reasons for this.
Epilepsy can have a long-term negative effect. Some children will have very low self-esteem and self-confidence.
Others may have missed educational opportunities. Teenagers and young adults often feel socially isolated from their friends.
The way teachers react and how readily they accept the child and their condition can make a big difference.
Teachers can help remove any stigma surrounding epilepsy and help change common misconceptions.
They will also play an important part in helping each child with epilepsy lead as fulfilling a life as possible.
First aid for seizures
Recent research of 600 adults working in the education sector commissioned by charity, Young Epilepsy, found that almost half wouldn’t be able to help a student having a seizure.
The more teachers know about seizures and what to do if a child has a seizure, the less frightening it all becomes.
Our teachers guide provides basic first aid information for both convulsive and non-convulsive seizures.
Knowing some basic first aid for seizures will help you react in a calm and reassuring way.
Watch for signs of depression
Depression is common with epilepsy. A child can find it difficult to come to terms with having epilepsy. Also, this can affect their self-esteem
If a child misses many days at school because of seizures, they may feel they will never catch up. Sometimes parents can be overprotective.
This can increase the child’s feeling of being ‘different’ and can make them feel isolated from their friends.
Occasionally, a child with epilepsy is teased or bullied by their peers. It is important that teachers watch out for name-calling.
It is demeaning to call a person ‘epileptic’. Only seizures are ‘epileptic.’
How teachers react can make all the difference to how the child will feel about their epilepsy.
Positive feedback from family and friends plus support from pupils and teachers is important.
Depression can also be linked to the cause of the child’s epilepsy. This can be a head injury or scarring on the brain.
If there is scarring on the part of the brain which deals with these feelings, this can lead to depression. Also, it can be a side effect of taking anti-epileptic drugs.
Our teachers guide has information on how to spot signs of possible depression.
The guide also provides information on when a seizure is a medical emergency, seizure triggers and how to assess the possible risks to a child living with epilepsy plus much more.
If you are a teacher and would like a copy of our teachers guide, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or a digital copy can be accessed at the following link: https://www.epilepsyscotland.org.uk/here-for-you/publications/education/