Epilepsy is a disease in which the brain's electro-chemical signals misfire. This
temporarily disrupts communications among nerve cells, leading to seizures. Seizures
can vary in severity, frequency, duration, and appearance.
Seizures can be scary — students may lose consciousness, jerk or thrash violently,
or appear to have difficulty breathing. Seizures may leave students temporarily confused
or unaware of their surroundings. Some seizures are so brief and minor that only careful
observation can detect them — a student may simply blink or stare into space
for a moment before resuming normal activity.
Most kids and teens with epilepsy can be successfully treated with medication.
Certain things can sometimes trigger seizures in people with epilepsy, including:
flashing or bright lights
lack of sleep
illness or fevers
too much stimulation (from computer screens or video games, for example)
Students with epilepsy may:
need to go to the school nurse for medications, or rest if they feel a seizure
have side effects from medication, causing them to be tired, moody, or less attentive
miss class time due to seizures or doctor visits
have other neurological problems that cause learning disabilities or behavior
need seating accommodations so teachers can watch for seizure-like symptoms
feel embarrassed about their condition
What Teachers Can Do
Most students with epilepsy can participate in school sports, phys-ed, and other
activities, with appropriate supervision and precautions.
Make sure your students with epilepsy have 504
education plans and be prepared to respond in the event of an emergency in accordance
with the plan.
Most seizures are not life threatening, but if one lasts longer than 5 minutes
or your student seems to have trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.
After seizures that last more than 30 seconds, most kids and teens are exhausted,
disoriented, confused, or even combative and agitated for minutes to hours. Your student
may need to go to the school nurse to lie down or go home for the day. You can help
by providing extra time to make up any missed class work or assignments, and offering