Epilepsy is a neurological condition affecting the brain. Having epilepsy means having a tendency to have seizures, which is when the brain’s electrical activity is disrupted.
There are many types of epilepsy. Pre-seizure symptoms may include feeling “fuzzy,” or dizzy, fainting, headaches, vomiting, or “being vacant.” Once seizures begin, they may be mild or severe, not obvious (“staring”), or obvious. Among the most common
(but not the only) types of seizures are:
Simple partial seizure - may be fully conscious and just have twitches or jerks.
Complex partial seizures – consciousness is altered, may show confused behavior; may have effects such as lip-smacking, wandering, chewing. (Behaviors may seem purposeful but they are not, and the person may not be aware of them.) Typically,
the person is not aware of what occurred, though they were conscious. They may be tired afterwards.
Absence (petit mal) seizures – briefly loses awareness, appears to “switch off” or seems to be in a “trance.” This, of course, can lead to missed class notes or not hearing part of a lecture or demonstration.
Tonic-clonic (grand mal)
seizures – loses consciousness, becomes stiff and limbs jerk. Most common type. Last from a few seconds to longer. Leaves the person exhausted, confused, upset, and groggy, or with other effects. May be okay after 15 minutes or may need to nap
for hours, or take several days to recover.
Students with seizure disorders may experience academic impact due to the physical exhaustion of the seizure, missing material during the seizure or the functional impact of the side effects of the medication treating the disorder. The side effects include
physical, psychological, cognitive (how the brain processes information from the senses), and behavioral problems. Side effects can include tiredness, skin problems, headaches, dizziness, sleep problems, depression, memory and memory loss, problems
with concentration, and shortened attention span.
Accommodations for a student with epilepsy tie to the effects. Some examples of possible accommodations that a student with epilepsy may require include (but are not limited to):
from First Aid for Epilepsy Seizures,
18 August 2016)
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Four Things to Do if a Student Has a Seizure in Your
Classroom (Advanced Professional Healthcare Education, LLC)
Seizure First Aid (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Seizure First Aid (Epilepsy Foundation)
What Student Life Is Like for Me as Someone with
Epilepsy (The Mighty)
Seizures and Epilepsy Facts (Truckee Meadows Community College)