Seizure Disorder in the Classroom

For children with a seizure disorder, faculty/staff members need a clear understanding of the disorder and what to do should a seizure occur. Seizures result from imbalance in the electrical activity of the brain. Seizures are classified as simple partial, complex partial, absence, or grand mal, based on the intensity and symptoms of the seizure.

Seizure symptoms:

- Simple partial seizures - sight or hearing impairment, uncontrollable jerking of body part, feeling of fear, sweating, nausea

- Complex partial seizures - lasts for a minute or two, trance-like appearance, move randomly with no control over body parts

- Absence seizures - sudden momentary loss of consciousness, upward staring of eyes, twitching of facial muscles, staggering, no recollection of the seizure

- Grand mal seizures - involuntary scream, jerking of the entire body, face reddens, breathing stops, back arches, feeling of exhaustion afterwards

Although there is no known cure for seizures, most children experiencing seizures can be helped with anticonvulsant medications, such as Tegretol or Depakote. These medications can reduce, and sometimes eliminate, seizures. Children with seizure disorders need an understanding of their condition and a feeling of acceptance from peers and faculty/staff.

In most cases, a child diagnosed with a seizure disorder, will be classified under the 504 committee. This committee is responsible to make sure that a child has equal access to an education in spite of his or her disability. Children classified under the 504 committee do not receive special education services. A 504 plan is developed to address potential barriers to accessing education.

In regards to a child with a seizure disorder, the 504 committee should consider the follow questions:

1. What type of seizures does the child experience? How often do they occur? What assistance, if any, needs to be given to the child as he experiences a seizure?

2. What training and other teacher resources are needed to prepare faculty/staff to deal with seizures?

3. If the child needs to be removed from the room after experiencing a seizure, what is the process to ensure that the child can receive missing work? (i.e. receive a copy of the lesson plans)

4. If the child suffers from absence seizures, should he be provided with class notes?

5. If the child experiences a seizure, who will communicate this to the parent?

A seizure can be very frightening for the child, as well as for his peers. It's important that the class has a basic understanding of seizure disorders and the importance of cooperating with the teacher should a seizure occur. If the child is having a non-convulsive seizure, remove dangerous objects that are in front of the child. If necessary, instruct the other children to quietly move to a certain section of the room or hallway. For grand mal seizures, follow the 504 plan and send someone to get the school nurse.

A child who suffer from a seizure disorder needs to be treated as normal as possible. Should an episode occur, the child needs to feel supportive by his peers and teacher.

More Information On Seizure Disorder

  1. American Epilepsy Society
  2. Seizure Disorders In Childhood- A good introduction.