Epilepsy is also referred to as seizure disorder; it is a chronic brain disorder that briefly interrupts the normal electrical activity of the brain to cause seizures. These seizures can be characterized by a variety of symptoms including uncontrolled movements of the body, disorientation or confusion, sudden fear, or loss of consciousness. Epilepsy may be a result from a head injury, stroke, brain tumor, lead poisoning, or genetic conditions. An interesting fact about epilepsy is that in over 70 percent of the cases no cause has been identified. Did you know that about 1 percent of the world population, or over 2 million people, are diagnosed with epilepsy (Epilepsy Foundation)?
Types and causes of Seizures:
A person has a seizure when there is an abnormal discharge of electrical energy in certain brain cells. The discharge spreads to nearby cells, and the effect may be loss of consciousness, involuntary movements, or abnormal sensory phenomena. The effects of the seizure will depend on the location of the cells in which the discharge starts and how far the discharge spreads. Like stated before about 1 percent of the population is diagnosed with epilepsy but did you know that about 6 percent of the population will have a seizure in their lifetime? Most of that 6 percent of people will not be diagnosed with epilepsy because they do not have seizures on a constant basis. Since seizures reflect abnormal brain activity, it is not surprising that epilepsy is found in a greater amount in children with developmental disabilities (mental retardation or cerebral palsy) than those without a disability.
Seizures can be caused by almost any kind of damage to the brain, the most common causes are; a lack of sufficient oxygen, low blood sugar, infections, and a physical trauma. But in 70 percent of epilepsy cases the cause is unknown. Even though the cause maybe unknown doctors still can treat patients with proper medication (Hallahan and Kauffman).
Seizures may take many forms, and the best way to classify seizures is a matter that is up for debate among many individuals. However, educators should not that seizures may differ along at least the following dimensions:
-Duration: The seizures may only last a few seconds or for several minutes.
-Frequency: Seizures may occur as frequently as every few minutes in severe cases or only about once a year in minor cases.
-Onset: They may be set off by certain identifiable stimuli or be unrelated to the environment, and they may be totally unexpected or be preceded by certain internal sensation
– Movements: they may cause major convulsive movements or only minor motor symptoms (eye blinking).
-Causes: Seizures may be caused by a variety of conditions, including high fever, poisoning or head trauma.
-Associated disabilities: Seizures may be associated with other disabling conditions or be unrelated to any other medical problem or disability.
-Control: They may be controlled completely by drugs, so that the individual has no more seizures, or they may be only partially controlled.
Nearly half of all children with Epilepsy have average or higher intelligence, just the same as the general public. Although many children with epilepsy have other disabilities, some do not. Consequently, both general and special education teacher may expect to encounter children who have seizures. Besides medical advice regarding management of the child’s particular seizure disorder, teachers should know first aid for epileptic seizures. Seizures are primarily a medical problem and require medical attention. Educators are called to deal with the problem in the following ways:
-Both General and special education teachers need to help dispel ignorance, superstition, and prejudice toward people who have seizures and provide calm management for the occasional seizure the child may have at school.
-Special education teachers who work with students with severe developmental disabilities need to be prepared to manage more frequent seizures as will as to handle learning problems. The teacher should record the length of a child’s seizure and the type of activity the child was engaged in before it occurred. This information will help physicians in diagnosis and treatment. If a student is being treated for a seizure disorder, the teacher, should know the type of medication and its possible side effects (Hallahan and Kauffman).
There is no cure for epilepsy but symptoms of the disorder may be treated with drugs, surgery, or a special diet. Drug therapy is the most common treatment, seizures can be prevented or their frequency lessened in 80 to 85 percent of cases by drugs known as anticonvulsants or antiepileptics. Surgery is used when drug treatments fail and the brain tissue causing the seizures is confined to one area and canbe safely removed. A special high-fat diet known as ketogenic diet produces a chemical condition in the body called ketosis that helps prevent seizures in young children. Like any other medical condition, epilepsy is affected by general health. Regualr exercise, plenty of rest, and efforts to reduce stress can all have a positive effect on a person with a seizure disorder.
The things that I have learned when doing this project that will better help me when I became a teacher in the future is: that as a teacher you not only need to know first aid but you can do the little things like making sure other students know what is going on so, they don’t make fun of that particular student. I also learned that by knowing the child’s medication and recording what they were doing when the seizure happened and how long is lasted could help give the student better treatment. Lastly, I learned that I shouldn’t have an attitude such as I will never have one of these students in my class, the possibility to get one of these students in my class is real, and I will now be better prepared so if and when it happens I can help the student to the best of my abilities.