The charity, Young Epilepsy, has launched a new online resource for education professionals, which provides access to information and practical tools enabling them to better support the children with epilepsy who are under their care.
A survey of 600 adults working in the education sector – including teachers, administrators, and catering assistants- was commissioned by the charity, and found that four in 10 education professionals would not be able to help a student having an epileptic seizure1.
On average epilepsy affects 112,000 children and young people across the UK2, but two-thirds of those polled have had no training about how to support the children with epilepsy in their care, including what to do in the event of a seizure1.
Other results confirmed that only 29 per cent knew that they should time the length of seizure and a third confirmed they wouldn’t know when to call for an ambulance in the event of a seizure1. Experts recommend you ring 999 if you know it’s their first seizure or if the seizure lasts for more than five minutes as prolonged seizures can result in status epilepticus, a potentially fatal condition.
The Online Guide for Schools contains essential information for anyone working with young people who have epilepsy and is available to access completely free of charge at www.youngepilepsy.org.uk/guideforschools.
Sharon White, Chief Executive of the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) said: “We welcome this resource which provides much needed updated guidance and, in doing so, further raises awareness of epilepsy in young people.”
Many of those polled were not aware of the different types of seizure a young person can experience. Three quarters were unaware falling to the ground and getting straight back up again could indicate that a young person is having a seizure, or experiencing strange tastes and smells (55 per cent), or staring blankly as if daydreaming (29 per cent)1.
A further survey of 356 young people with epilepsy and their parents undertaken by Young Epilepsy, found 37 per cent of young people do not have an Individual Health Care Plan at school – these plans set out key information to ensure young people are safe and included in all aspects of school life.
A number of the young people have been unnecessarily excluded from activities or opportunities at school, purely due to their condition3.
Young Epilepsy’s research also shows that many young people with epilepsy have a significant difficulty in some area of cognition or behaviour; a consequence of epilepsy that’s rarely addressed when discussing the condition, but can have a profound effect on educational development, without the right support and guidance3.
Mark Devlin, Chief Executive of Young Epilepsy said: “We know that our colleagues working in any education setting are facing many challenges every day, and most are doing a fantastic job in ensuring that every child in their care is being fully supported.
“But these latest figures show that children with epilepsy are struggling to have their conditions fully understood by the people who are playing an essential role in their educational and emotional development.
“It is our hope that this fantastic new online resource gives teachers the opportunity to learn more about epilepsy and allow the young people in their care to be fully supported to learn and be included in school life to the full.”