CHILDREN AND
EPILEPSY

 

 

 

 

Epilepsy is a common disorder of the nervous system that causes a child to have seizures

Epilepsy is a common disorder of the nervous system that causes a child to have seizures. A seizure happens when there are abnormal electrical signals affecting one or more parts of the brain, and that can consequently interrupt normal brain activity. Anything can lead to the mentioned situation, including high fever, high or low blood sugar, alcohol and others.

Generally, adults and children have the same types of seizure, however there are some that are more frequent in childhood than adulthood. The impact of seizures depends on the type of seizure. In children, when seizures occur the child may be aware of what is happening, but there are other types in which a child is unconscious and has no memory of the episode.  
 
During a seizure it's possible to experience: jerking of the body, repetitive movements, or even unusual sensations, like a strange taste or strange smell.
 
Children can have also a diagnosis of childhood epilepsy syndrome, an epilepsy with very specific characteristics and for which doctors may foresee the progress. The epilepsy characteristics can include the type of seizures, the age when seizures started and results from specific tests, as electroencephalograms. The syndromes can be widely different, there are some that disappear after a child reaches a certain age, there are others that have relevant impact with disabilities that may affect a child’s development.
 

CAUSES OF EPILEPSY IN CHILDHOOD

Common causes of childhood seizures or epilepsy:


• Fever (febrile seizures)
• Genetic causes
• Head injury
• Infections of the brain and its coverings
• Lack of oxygen to the brain
• Hydrocephalus (excess water in the brain cavities)
• Disorders of brain development

There are also less common causes of childhood epilepsy that can include brain tumors or cysts and degenerative disorders (progressive and deteriorating conditions, often associated with loss of brain cells). Immunization is not considered a cause of epilepsy, however a seizure can occur 1 or 2 days after an immunization, in particular if it is followed by a fever.

EPILEPSY AND SCHOOL

Epilepsy presents variations from person to person, and to know as much as possible about a child’s epilepsy will allow to establish the correct assumptions regarding their learning and how the people and staff surrounding them can support this group in this stage. Communication is key and to keep the school staff informed about your child’s epilepsy can be important to be aware about possible actions to take if a seizure happens.

Epilepsy affects children in
different ways

Epilepsy affects children in different ways, there are some in which epilepsy will not have impact in their ability to learn or conquer their grades at school , but there are others that may need additional support, for example due to the time needed to recover from a seizure, a child who has absence seizures and may miss key points during lessons or even the frequent fatigue in children with poorly controlled epilepsy.

Attention difficulties can also be present as an obstacle to the learning process. A recent study approaching the behaviour in children in the 6 months before a first recognized seizure revealed that 24,6% of the children had higher than expected rates of behavioural problems, especially attention difficulties.

Teachers are also fundamental

Teachers are also fundamental. The awareness near the teachers help them to understand how to act and to report if they notice there are areas in which child can benefit of an extra support.

Other possible relevant support group are students. All people can act in a better way when correctly informed and understanding the situation, so to learn about epilepsy in the classroom can be a good way to do this awareness.

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