Understanding the condition
Seizures occur when the brain's electrical activity is periodically disturbed, resulting in some degree of temporary brain dysfunction.
When a child experiences a seizure, they may describe abnormal sensations, involuntary movements, or convulsions. A seizure may impact your student’s behaviour, movements, feelings and consciousness.
It is vital that you have the best understanding of your student’s seizures and develop a care plan for the child, working closely with their family/ carers and any other professionals involved.
There are two classifications of seizure: epileptic and non-epileptic.
Non-epileptic seizures are triggered by a reversible disorder such as a stroke, infection or reaction to a medication. Children can experience a febrile seizure if they have a fever.
Epileptic seizures have no apparent trigger. One seizure does not mean a child is epileptic. Epileptic seizures are those which occur more than twice. It is thought they may occur due to structural abnormalities, strokes or tumours.
There are different types of epileptic seizures
Focal seizures: These can occur with or without consciousness. Conscious focal seizure may result in a child staring into space or performing repetitive movements such as chewing, swallowing or walking in circles. These may cause children to alter their emotions, can result in involuntary jerking and may cause the child to feel tingling or dizziness.
Generalized seizures: Seizures that appear to involve all areas of the brain are called generalized seizures. Different types of generalized seizures include:
Absence seizures (Petit mal seizures) – Children are often observed to be staring into space with subtle body movements such as eye blinking or lip smacking.
Tonic seizures- usually resulting in the stiffening of muscles in the neck, back and legs and can cause children to fall to the ground.
Atonic seizures (Drop seizures) may result in a loss of muscle control causing the child to collapse or fall to the ground.
Clonic seizures may result in repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements usually affecting the neck, face and arms.
Myoclonic seizures may result in a child demonstrating sudden brief jerks or twitches of their arms and legs.
Tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal seizures) may result in the child experiencing an abrupt loss of consciousness, consciousness, body stiffening and shaking, and sometimes loss of bladder control or biting their tongue.
A seizure should not cause damage to the brain; however, it is vital to act promptly and monitor the seizure following the care plan already agreed, this will be a guide to the steps you need to take.
Challenges faced by students
As a teacher, it is essential that your student with a seizure disorder has an agreed care plan and that sessions and activities and fully risk assessed.
Students with seizure disorders may feel anxious in new environments and particularly in activities where a level of independence is required due to the risk associated with seizure disorders such as:
Falling - which could result in injury
Drowning - If your student is participating in a swimming lesson or water-based activity and has a seizure, they could be at risk of accidental drowning.
Accidents - If your student walks home for lunch or is in the proximity of traffic, this needs to be included in your risk assessment as they are at risk of injury should they experience loss of awareness or lack of consciousness following a seizure.
Emotional health issues – Your student is learning to live with a seizure disorder and may be struggling to come to terms with it as well as any medication prescribed as a result, they may experience psychological problems, such as depression and anxiety.