Epilepsy In Children
In dealing with a diagnosis of epilepsy every parent has feelings, questions and concerns. This will help address some of the issues parents must face.
Epilepsy can be a scary word. Epilepsy or Seizure Disorder as it is sometimes called is the recurring convulsion, brief period of unconsciousness or altered behavior caused by sudden and unusual discharge of electrical energy in the brain. In dealing with a diagnosis of epilepsy every parent has feelings, questions and concerns.
When your child is diagnosed with epilepsy a barrage of feelings may occur. It is important for the parent to sort through those feelings in order for the child to better understand what is going on. If the parent perceives epilepsy in a fearful, anxiety-ridden context, then it is likely the child will grow up fearful and anxious about epilepsy, but if the parents are well informed, understanding, and accepting of epilepsy the child will become more independent and boast more self confidence.
Encourage your child to treat epilepsy as an inconvenience. He or she can still participate in most of the activities they participated in before the diagnosis. One mother told the story of her daughter climbing a small tree, her first instinct was to tell her child to climb down fearing she would have a seizure and fall, after some thought she decided it would be better for her daughter to have a broken arm than a broken spirit. If children hear constantly what they cannot do, it saddles them with limitations and hinders them from becoming more independent later on in life. This is not to say that they do not require supervision.
With the initial diagnosis of epilepsy comes many questions. Your primary physician will help you answer some. Also, your child may be directed to a neurologist who can answer specific questions about tests and medications. It is a good idea to make a list of 20 questions or so, before each doctor visit and take the list with you to the physician's office. This will save the doctor's time and also keep you from forgetting important questions you would like to ask. One of the most valuable resources to direct your questions is the Epilepsy Foundation of America. They have further information and assistance in dealing with epilepsy and can refer you to the affilate nearest you.
It is natural for parents to have concerns, especially about a child's safety. Keep in mind, your child hasn't changed; they still want to participate in the same activities they did before the diagnosis. One of the main concerns parents have is water safety. Water can be hazardous to children who have seizures. All children, whether or not they have seizures, should be supervised around water. With proper supervision water sports can be a fun and safe part of a child's experience. A child with epilepsy should never swim alone, (no one should.) It is more safe to swim in a pool than at the beach, but swimming at the beach should be okay if a family or friend who is a good swimmer stays close by. Life guards or swimming instructors should be told if a child has epilepsy, and it always helps to use the "buddy system." It is a good idea to check with the physican about participation in sports. Some sports are safer than others, but the child's desire to play must be weighed against whatever perceived risks there may be.
Remember how you handle epilepsy determines how your child will handle it. If you treat epilepsy as a temporary inconvenience you are teaching your child by example. Encourage your child to participate in community and family life. Address any feelings, questions and concerns in a straight forward manner. Staying well-informed and encouraging your child will help build the confidence needed for him or her to face the outside world and enable them to reach their full potential.