Communication key in supporting epileptic students, report warns

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Better communication with schools is needed to help support children suffering from epilepsy.

The recommendation has come from a UK-wide review of health services for children suffering from the potentially fatal condition.

The Epilepsy12 Audit involved paediatricians, nurses as well as children and parents. While much of the report focuses on wider health service provision, the study does raise concerns about the extent to which schools and school nurses are kept informed.

Some children in the study reported that their schools have a “lack of information” about their condition. One in five young people raised concerns in this area, with one sufferer telling the report: ”My school does not understand enough.” 

Meanwhile, 17 per cent of the parents involved in the research said that health services were not good at working together with schools.

The report states: “Feedback from parent/carers and children and young people about their experiences of their service was positive. However there was evidence of significant proportions of with negative experiences. 

“This was particularly in the areas of achieving understanding, decision-making, working together with schools and nurseries, and ease of contact.”

Epilepsies are a common neurological disorder affecting around 1 in 200 children. On average, one child in every primary school and five in every secondary school has been diagnosed with epilepsy. 

The report emphasises that all health services must ensure epilepsy specialist nurses are providing school liaison services.

The Epilepsy12 group, which comprises clinical experts and charities, has also called for improvements “to ensure timely and ongoing assessments of educational, emotional and behavioural problems for all young children with epilepsies”.

It comes after charity Young Epilepsy, which is part of the Epilepsy12 group, recently warned that the impact of the condition on sufferers’ educational achievement must not be forgotten.

Young Epilepsy chief executive David Ford said: “The vital message is that epilepsy doesn’t just affect a young person’s health, it often affects their education too. It is unacceptable that 50 per cent of young people with epilepsy underachieve at school. 

“Very simple steps can be taken to help school students achieve their potential.”

The charity urges parents to ensure that schools have all the information they need. Its website states: “If your child is at secondary school, ask their tutor to share the information with the other staff who teach and care for your child. The school should be given as much information as possible about your child’s seizures and how to deal with them.”

The Young Epilepsy website offers a checklist for the information that schools should have and also details of its school training services. 

For more information, visit www.youngepilepsy.org.uk


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