Our Chief Executive, Lesslie Young looks at children and young people returning to school with a diagnosis of epilepsy and how well a teacher understands the condition can make an enormous difference to their return to school experience.
With the decision being made for schools to open on a full-time basis, many children and young people, as well as their parents will have mixed feelings about it.
The end of the summer holidays can be an exciting time. The anticipation of seeing friends again, sharing stories of summer adventures and starting a new year in a new class, is all part of returning to school.
However, for some it can be an anxious time. And this year we have the added challenge of the changes brought about by the pandemic.
Worry and anxiety
For some young people living with epilepsy, the prospect of returning to school and joining a new class may be a cause for worry or anxiety.
If it is causing you any concern, there is absolutely no shame in admitting it. Speak to someone you trust. It could be a member of your family, a teacher or your epilepsy specialist nurse.
Let them know how you feel and let them help you. You may find once you have shared your concerns with someone, you feel better about yourself and your epilepsy.
Your friends, classmates and teachers will want to help and support you if you feel you are struggling with aspects of your epilepsy or seizures.
Epilepsy is much more than seizures. The other ways it affects people varies. Some children may have very low self-esteem and little self-confidence.
Others may have missed educational opportunities. Teenagers and young adults often feel socially isolated from their friends.
Importance of teachers
How your teacher reacts to your diagnosis of epilepsy has a huge impact on your return to school experience.
For many children, epilepsy and the medication you may take, will not affect learning, memory or behaviour. For some others, this is not the case.
We know the combination of seizures and the medication may make it harder for some to learn, cause them to forget things and possibly make them irritable and frustrated.
How well your teacher understands the condition can make an enormous difference. Teachers can help to reduce, if not eradicate any possible stigma attached to epilepsy and change common misconceptions.
Teachers also play an important part in helping each child with epilepsy lead as fulfilling a life as possible, at school and beyond.
How Epilepsy Scotland can support you
Epilepsy Scotland understands the impact epilepsy can and often does have on education. We are here to support children and young people, parents, teachers, and classmates to make starting or returning to school as easy as possible.
Our Youth Development Workers deliver awareness talks to schools, at assemblies or in individual classes, to help raise awareness and the understanding of epilepsy with the aim of reducing the stigma often associated with the condition.
As schools open and pupils return Epilepsy Scotland is here to support anyone who is feeling anxious or looking for more information. Do not hesitate to get in touch.