Major Educational Hurdles in the Epileptic Life… And How to Fight Them

The brain spends most of its energy organizing and controlling cognitive functions. The epileptic brain is wired differently than the average brain, which makes it common for other areas of the brain to be wired differently as well. This is why it is not uncommon for those with epilepsy to also experience varying levels of cognitive dysfunction.

In addition to physical challenges, the epileptic person struggles with social and psychological difficulties that can lead to low self-esteem and social isolation. In order to prepare an epileptic child for success, it is important for families to support and encourage children and their interests, hopes and dreams.

Higher education, though it may prove a difficult goal, is definitely an attainable reality for young epileptics.

Learning Disadvantages

Neurological Disorders –Almost 50 percent of individuals who suffer from epilepsy have one or more additional neurological disorders. Memory impairment is the most common effect of epilepsy, with effects ranging from minor forgetfulness to disorientation. Other common disorders include mental retardation, speech-language disabilities and specific learning
disabilities. Seizures can also result in neurological damage that can lead to attention deficit disorders.

  • SOLUTION: If your child is determined to go to college, he must begin preparing in high school. Becoming familiar with the limitations of a learning disorder is the first step in gaining the confidence to succeed in spite of it. In accordance to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, college students with disabilities must be offered an Individualized Education Program commonly referred to as an IEP. Professors are also required to allow for any necessary special considerations. There are also colleges that specialize in teaching students with learning disabilities.

Medication – Research has shown that some anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) can interfere with normal cognitive functioning.

  • SOLUTION: In some cases, seizures can be controlled without medication. Ketogenic diets have successfully controlled seizures in many instances, often as a last resort when medication is not working.

Absences from Class – When a student experiences a seizure during class, he is mentally absent from the lecture. Doctor’s appointments and illness may also keep an epileptic from attending class and falling behind.

  • SOLUTION: A student will need to build strong partnerships with professors and help them understand the challenges of epilepsy. It is wise to produce as much documentation as possible to confirm the illness. Playing catch-up is never fun, but working out a plan with instructors beforehand will help tremendously. One option is to team up with another student to record lectures or to share notes during absences. For students who experience frequent seizures, online classes may be a better option.

Psychological and Social Challenges

Depression – It is estimated that some 29 percent of those diagnosed with epilepsy succumb to depression. Many epileptics go through a grieving period for their health, and a rising anxiety caused by the unpredictability of seizures can be a major factor for stress. Embarrassment, shame and devaluation associated with losing control of the body are often counterparts of epilepsy.

Approximately half of those epileptics who are depressed never receive treatment. Don’t let depression hold you or your child from being your best.

  • SOLUTION: Children and parents who are having difficulties coping with epilepsy should seek counseling and professional advice and medication to regain balance. Therapy sessions can be especially helpful for those who are dealing with grief. Allow your child to spend time with positive mentors and peers to allow them room to be themselves.

Social Isolation – It is common for parents of epileptic children to become overprotective of their children. Isolation can also arise from a perceived stigma associated with epilepsy. A reluctance to engage in social interaction could lead to long-term anti-social behavior.

  • SOLUTION: To cope with the psychological effects of epilepsy, epileptic teens need social support that grows with weeks, months and years. Encourage epileptic teens to participate in groups. Prepare your teen for independence by allowing him to teach others how to respond in the case of a seizure. Friends and family alike will appreciate the opportunity to meet your child as a person, not as a patient.

About the Author:

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger for bestcollegesonline.com. She loves writing about education, writing, and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses. She welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

About Arlene Martell

Arlene Martell is the publisher of EpilepsyMoms.com and the author of Getting Adam Back – A Mother's triumph over Epilepsy and Autism. She resides in a seaside suburb on Vancouver BC Canada with her husband James and their four children Adam, Justin, Shelby and Victoria.