Having seizures at school can be a daunting experience for the child and parent, as well as teachers and other classmates. Yet through education about epilepsy at school, the negative stigma that arises from fear of the disease can be dissolved, enabling a positive learning experience for all concerned.
One such example is 6th grader Braden, who is a student at Crosby Heights Public School at Richmond Hill, in the York Region. Braden has suffered from seizures from a very young age and his first seizure in class caused great worry to his mother, teacher, classmates and for the young boy himself. As his mother explains: “after Braden’s first seizure in class he was hesitant to return to school for fear of negative reactions. To his surprise and relief, his classmates were extremely empathetic and supportive.”
This positive environment was actively encouraged by his teacher, Ms Kagan. She realised the importance of including the other students in an action plan to deal with any further seizures and give them more information about epilepsy to prevent them feeling afraid of Braden’s seizures. As she explains, “after witnessing Braden have his first seizure at school in my class, I could feel the fear and discomfort among the rest of his classmates.”
An Example Of An Epilepsy Action Plan
Ms Kagan set up an action plan and designated roles for Braden’s classmates to ensure his safety and that of the rest of the class. Firstly, one student was assigned the job of timing as it is important to record the length of the seizure. Another became office runner to let the office know what was happening. Head support was assigned to another classmate, which involves getting a pillow from the back of the class to support Braden’s head. As the teacher would be beside Braden making sure he is in the correct position a phone monitor was also assigned. The rest of the class have the job of moving away all desks and chairs and then quietly line up outside the classroom.
Class interaction to help any child with a disability can foster an environment of teamwork, responsibility and the powerful feeling of being able to help others. By including the other children in this way, the stigma of epilepsy can be reduced with the child feeling less excluded by their classmates and have less chance of being bullied.
Braden’s Mum also felt great reassurance in the way the school was handling her son’s seizures. What a relief for any parent knowing the school environment is one area where they don’t have to worry about their child’s wellbeing. This is certainly an inspirational model that should be adopted by all educational institutions.