Most children and youth with epilepsy (CYE) go to school every day, so it’s important that schools are prepared to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for them. CYE may need help taking medicine or extra time to complete schoolwork — but with the right support, they can thrive at school. Parents and caregivers, physicians, teachers and school staff can work together to support CYE and be prepared for emergencies.
Create a Seizure Action Plan
Creating a Seizure Action Plan ensures that school staff will know what to do in case of a seizure — and helps parents and caregivers feel more confident that their child is in safe hands. The action plan should explain the child’s epilepsy and how to use any medicine they’re taking. It should also give instructions on what to do if there’s an emergency, including:
- What to do when the child has a seizure at school or on the bus
- When to call emergency medical services
- How to use emergency medicine or medical devices
Physicians and parents/caregivers should review the plan regularly to make sure it’s up to date and share the latest plan with school staff. Make sure that anyone who works with the child at school has access to the plan — including people like after-school caregivers and field trip chaperones.
Educate Classmates about Epilepsy
Classmates can help support CYE by learning what to do if they have a seizure and by being accepting and encouraging. To help other students understand seizures and support children with epilepsy, parents, caregivers, and school staff can:
- Have a conversation with the child about how to talk to classmates about their epilepsy.
- Share educational resources that teach classmates about epilepsy and seizures.
- Teach classmates what to do if the child has a seizure at school.
Know the Rights Children with Epilepsy Have at School
There are laws that require schools to provide accommodations for children with special health care needs like epilepsy. Some of these laws are:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act
School counselors, psychologists and pediatricians can work with parents and caregivers to get children with epilepsy the help they need to thrive at school. In terms of specific documentation to support students with epilepsy, the school can work with parents/caregivers to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and/or a 504 Plan. An IEP is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary school receives specialized instruction and related services. A 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.
For more details, check out these helpful resources:
- HealthyChildren.org: Children with Epilepsy at School
- The Epilepsy Foundation: Your Child at School and Child Care
- The Epilepsy Foundation: Seizure Training for School Nurses and School Personnel
American Academy of Pediatrics