What Teachers Need to Know About Children With Epilepsy
If your child has epilepsy, it’s best to communicate with teachers and other caregivers to ensure she gets the best care — at home or at school. Get more tips on empowering others to help.
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Your doctor can prepare critical information about the needs of your child in the event of a serious convulsion or seizure. “Every year, we prepare a Seizure Action Plan for each child,” says epilepsy specialist Elia Pestana Knight, MD. “In that document, we explain to the school teachers and the nurses what the seizures of this child look like. We also explain when they need to intervene.”
Typically, Dr. Pestana Knight says, there’s no reason to intervene if the child’s seizures last a minute or less.
However, if the seizure last longer than three minutes or if the child has a severe convulsion or grand mal seizure, the child will need to receive a rescue medication known as Diastat® (diazepam rectal gel). Doctors prescribe the medication according to the size and weight of the child.
Some larger children can receive a different solution, midazolam, through a nasal spray. Some smaller children can use a small clonazepam pill that dissolves in their mouths.
“When we write prescriptions for these medications, we tell the pharmacy to provide an extra bottle with the patient information and instructions that can be kept at the child’s school,” says Dr. Pestana Knight.
Doctors also may enlist teachers to make sure the child doesn’t have other problems associated with epilepsy that impact the ability to learn.
Teachers can look for these signs:
Basically, anyone who will take care of your child when you’re not around needs to know that your child has epilepsy and learn how to handle a seizure. Whether it’s a grandparent, neighbor, babysitter or an older child, education is the key.
“Anyone who is going to take care of the child needs to know what to do in the case of a seizure,” Dr. Pestana Knight says.
Take these basic steps if a child has a seizure:
Dr. Pestana Knight says there are common misunderstandings about what to do during a seizure. Here is a list of things you should not do:
“We try to educate the family, because knowledge gives you control,” Dr. Pestana Knight says. “But if you get too nervous or cannot help the child, then it’s time to call 9-1-1.”
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