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Epilepsy In Student

The potential to achieve at school and in life is not limited by epilepsy. The advances in treatment mean more and more youth can live normal lives. However, youngsters with epilepsy do face unique situations at school and teachers, principals, counsellors must take appropriate action in order to assure the student's development.

USEful links

1. Helpful tips for student going to college (based on real-live experience)

2. For teachers and parents (useful info from Epilepsy Ontario)

3. EAES School Alert Epilepsy Education Program 

Situations Faced by Students





Vocational Planning



(A) Academically

Epilepsy is no deterrent to high achievement. Students with epilepsy test within the normal range of intelligence. However, it is not uncommon that many achieve below their expected level. Thus, before concluding that a student is lazy, consider the following:

1. Medication Side Effects

2. Absenteeism

3. Problems related to the portion of the brain where the seizure activity originates

4. Time of Diagnosis


(B) Socially

(C) Behaviorally

A distinction must be made between seizure-related behaviour and non-related behaviour. For example, complex partial seizures exhibit behaviours that resemble deliberate acting out. Although appearing conscious, the student is not, but is rather on "auto-pilot," walking around, possibly mumbling, shouting, banging tables or any other variety of behaviours.

Comprehension of directions from teachers or other students may not be present. Or a student may respond to her name being called but doesn't know where she is or what she's doing. This type of behaviour can be mistaken for deliberate provocation or even drug/alcohol abuse.

If someone is grabbed suddenly during such a seizure, the possibility exists that she may strike out. It is important to note that this is a reflex action and not a deliberate act of violence.

Some behaviours may be a side effect of the epilepsy. In a newly diagnosed student, anger and grief at what has just happened may result in a hostile individual with a short temper. On the other hand, a sense of isolation and low self esteem may be found in the student who's had epilepsy for many years - they may have been ridiculed, have had activities curtailed, been overly protected, or been labelled.

It must also be remembered that while youth with epilepsy can have some unique behaviours, they also exhibit behaviours associated with childhood development. Care must be taken not to assume that a behaviour problem is just another type of seizure. Doing so might delay proper counselling for the affected individual.

(D) Activities

There is no reason that students with epilepsy should be uniformly excluded from activities such as driver's education, physical education, sports teams, industrial arts, etc.

Common sense should dictate participation; attention should be paid to:

Some experts feel that the risk of physical injury is secondary to the psychological hurt that might result if a student's heart is set on participating in an activity and is told he or she cannot because of epilepsy.

(E) Vocational Planning

How can the school help?