Epilepsy is a common disorder of the brain that causes recurring seizures. Epilepsy affects people of all ages, but children and older adults are more likely to have epilepsy. Seizures are the main sign of epilepsy and most people can control this with treatment. Some seizures can look like staring spells while other seizures can cause a person to collapse, stiffen or shake, and become unaware of what’s going on around them. Many times the cause is unknown.
About 0.6% of children ages 0-17 years have epilepsy in the United States. 2 That is about 460,000 children in 2013.1 Picture a school with 1,000 students—that means about 6 students would have epilepsy. For many children, epilepsy is easily controlled with medication and they can do what all the other kids can do, and perform as well academically. For others, it can be more challenging.
Compared with students with other health concerns, a CDC study shows that students aged 6–17 years with epilepsy were more likely to miss 11 or more days of school in the past year. Also, students with epilepsy were more likely to have difficulties in school, use special education services, and have activity limitations such as less participation in sports or clubs compared with students with other medical conditions. CDC also found that a larger percentage of children with epilepsy than those without the disorder lived in very low income households (below 200% of the federal poverty level). This suggests other unmet needs for families of children with epilepsy.
(Produced by the entire brain)
|1. “Grand Mal” or Generalized tonic-clonic
||Unconsciousness, convulsions, muscle rigidity
||Brief loss of consciousness
||Sporadic (isolated), jerking movements
||Repetitive, jerking movements
||Muscle stiffness, rigidity
||Loss of muscle tone
MANAGING CHILDREN WITH EPILEPSY SCHOOL NURSE GUIDE
SEIZURE ACTION PLAN FOR SCHOOL (Fill in PDF form)
Seizure Action Plan with Emergency Seizure Care Instructions
MODEL SECTION 504 PLAN FOR A STUDENT WITH EPILEPSY (Sample)
Epilepsy Foundation – Managing Students with Seizures for School Nurses
Epilepsy Foundation – Seizure Training for School Personnel
Epilepsy Foundation – Seizure Training for Child Care Personnel
For Students and Families
CDC – You Are Not Alone Parent Toolkit
Epilepsy Foundation – Take Charge of the Storm for middle school students
Epilepsy Foundation – Take Charge of the Facts for high school students
The day after the mass shooting occurred in Florida many kids were talking about the massacre. They were asking a variety of questions like, “Will that happen to us at our school?” or simply “Am I safe at school?” As educators, parents, and community members we have an obligation to know what to say to our kids. This post will review what the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) recommends.
Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers
High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.
- Reassure children that they are safe. Emphasize that schools are very safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings, help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
- Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information to provide. Be patient; children and youth do not always talk about their feelings readily. Watch for clues that they may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work. Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. Young children may need concrete activities (such as drawing, looking at picture books, or imaginative play) to help them identify and express their feelings.
- Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them. Give simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.
- Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools.
- Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. Emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs.
- Review safety procedures. This should include procedures and safeguards at school and at home. Help children identify at least one adult at school and in the community to whom they go if they feel threatened or at risk.
- Observe children’s emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. However, some children may be at risk for more intense reactions. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others. Seek the help of mental health professional if you are at all concerned.
- Limit television viewing of these events. Limit television viewing and be aware if the television is on in common areas. Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.
- Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children
- Schools are safe places. School staff works with parents and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep you safe.
The school building is safe because … (cite specific school procedures).
- We all play a role in the school safety. Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.
- There is a difference between reporting, tattling or gossiping. You can provide important information that may prevent harm either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear.
- Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and probability that it will affect you (our school community).
- Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
- Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness. Adults (parents, teachers, police officers, doctors, faith leaders) work very hard to get those people help and keep them from hurting others. It is important for all of us to know how to get help if we feel really upset or angry and to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
- Stay away from guns and other weapons. Tell an adult if you know someone has a gun. Access to guns is one of the leading risk factors for deadly violence.
- Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict mediation skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer is struggling with anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.
NASP has additional information for parents and educators on school safety, violence prevention, children’s trauma reactions, and crisis response at www.nasponline.org.
The handout, Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers is available in the following languages:
Violence Prevention: A Mental Health Issue Tips for Parents and Educators (NASP)
15 Tips for Talking with Children About School Violence (Colorín Colorado)
School Violence Prevention-Brief Facts and Tips (NASP)
Framework for Safe and Successful Schools
PREPaRE Training Curriculum
NASP Resolution on Efforts to Prevent Gun Violence
Kidpower is an excellent organization with a world-class reputation in supporting child safety. Their materials and training have helped many schools in our area and I can attest to their commitment to building safer communities.
Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International is a global non-profit leader dedicated to child protection advocacy and empowering people of all ages, abilities, cultures, beliefs, and identities with life skills for safety and success. Our vision is to work together to create cultures of safety, respect, and kindness for everyone, everywhere.
Since 1989, Kidpower has protected nearly 5 million people, including those with special needs, from bullying, abuse, kidnapping, and other violence by empowering them with awareness, knowledge, and skills – and has prepared them to take charge of their safety and well being. Worldwide, thousands of educators, mental health experts, public safety officials, health care providers, community leaders, and parents recommend Kidpower for being effective, positive, hands-on, safe, trauma-informed, culturally competent, age-appropriate, and relevant.
Kidpower delivers services through:
Hands-on experiential workshops for families, schools, organizations, businesses, and agencies
Training for people wishing to learn how to use and teach our programs
Partnerships with groups that share our commitment to safety and respect
Consulting and coaching calls, for individuals and groups, to provide long-distance support
Extensive online educational resources including articles, handouts, posters, and videos
Cartoon-illustrated books for children, teens, and adults and other publications
Initiatives such as International Child Protection Advocacy Month in September
A latchkey kid or latchkey child is a child who returns from school to an empty home because their parent or parents are away at work, or a child who is often left at home with little parental supervision. (More)
Having your child stay at home alone is a big deal worth preparing to be ready to do successfully. Here is a collection of articles and guides to help with the process.
When it’s just you After School
Parent Guidebook of Kids Alone at Home
Latchkey Kids in the 21st Century: Keeping Your Kids Safe When You’re Not Home
Why are we so afraid to leave children alone? UCI study finds moral judgments about parents affect perceptions of risk
Legal Age Restrictions for Latchkey Kids
The Library and the Latchkey
“Current trends are again influencing youth services in libraries. Economic and social conditions have increased the need for child care services and created the phenomenon of the so–called &’latchkey child’—the school–aged child who has no parent or guardian at home after school hours and has no alternative care arrangement…. It is not surprising that great numbers of children are in the public library unattended after school, on school holidays, and during emergency closing days such as snow days. What role do public libraries have to play in providing safe shelter for the nation’s children? Where does the library’s responsibility to community needs end? Who will provide the after–school services to children if the public library closes its doors?”
The New Latchkey Kids
“More than a million grade–schoolers have nobody to take care of them once class lets out. Where have all the after–school programs gone?”
Protecting Your Kids When They’re Home Alone
Information from the National Safe Kids Campaign.
Self Care for School Age Children
Report from the Australian Institute for Family Studies, guidelines for parents and children, resources in Australia.
When It’s Just You After School
Information for kids from KidsHealth, includes safety tips.
Keeping Your Latchkey Kid Safe at Home
Kids Home Alone? Follow These Safety Steps
Home Alone Activities
Readiness to stay home video