What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy can start at any age. In the UK it is reckoned around one in 150 people have a form of epilepsy. About 80% of epileptic children attend mainstream schools.
It is a neurological condition manifesting itself in a tendency to cause seizures (fits) that start in the brain. Not all fits are epileptic – fainting can be caused by a fall in blood pressure or a rise in temperature during illness. These are not caused by disrupted brain activity.
A seizure might include a blackout, jerking of the body or repetitive movements. The child may be aware of what is happening or equally be unconscious with no recollection afterwards.
All suspected children need to be referred by their family doctor to a paediatric specialist. Children often end up on anti epileptic drugs (AEDS) to help control seizures but these do not usually cure epilepsy. There are other possible treatments including diet or even surgery.
Epilepsy does not by itself harm intellect, but the sufferer can feel extremely tired afterwards – so you need a school which understands the warning signs and how to react and to supervise AEDs.
How do you choose a school for an epileptic?
If the seizures are mild and infrequent the child should be able to thrive in a mainstream school. You need to find out how much training the school teachers have received in caring for epileptics and whether the school has a written policy on epilepsy. If the seizures are frequent and severe you may be better choosing a special needs school. Not many SEN schools hold themselves out to specialise in epilepsy. However, if they specialise in autism , they probably have the learning support your child needs. Ask us for referrals.