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Parenting a child with epilepsy

Caring for a child with epilepsy

All parents get anxious about their children at various stages in their lives, but those feelings can multiply for a parent of child who is diagnosed as having epilepsy.

Parents may be concerned about how a child and those around them will cope if they have a seizure while out playing or at school. There may be concerns about treatment for epilepsy and medication side-effects.

It may help to talk to other parents of children with epilepsy, either face-to-face or through online forums provided by Epilepsy Action and other groups. Your GP and epilepsy specialist nurse can also help with concerns and practical advice.

Support for a child with epilepsy

Children cope with epilepsy and having seizures in different ways. Some may take it in their stride, while others may feel embarrassed or angry about what their friends will think if they have a seizure.

Older children may benefit from being in touch with others with the same condition through special websites for children and teenagers with epilepsy.

Many people may have misconceptions about epilepsy, so one way a parent can help support a child with the condition is to make sure the child, family members, siblings, friends and teachers have accurate information about what epilepsy means to a child and their help and support they may need.

Epilepsy at school

A child with epilepsy may also have behavioural problems or learning difficulties which require additional attention or support at home and at school. Epilepsy Action says there's evidence that some children with epilepsy may have difficulties in certain subjects, including reading and maths.

Some seizure types can affect a child's attention during lessons and a side-effect of some anti-epileptic drugs can be behaviour changes. The help of an educational psychologist may be beneficial.

The attitudes to epilepsy of people around the child can affect their self-esteem. The child may need to be reassured that their condition is just one part of their life and they should be able to take part in the same activities at school as their classmates. Bullying may be a problem for some children with epilepsy. If you have concerns, talk to their teacher.

Staff at the child's school, pre-school or nursery do need to be aware of the child's condition and what to do in the event of a seizure. These range from having someone trained in first aid, knowing when to give extra supervision during some activities, such as swimming lessons, and if appropriate, being trained to administer emergency medication.

Epilepsy is a condition covered by equality and disability discrimination laws. Reasonable adjustments should be made to make sure a child should not be put at a disadvantage because of their condition.

The school's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) will usually be the person to go to about ensuring necessary arrangements and allowances are in place.

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