Learning and Behavior Challenges
Before your child starts school, we recommend that you take time to meet with his or her teacher and school nurse. Educate the school about your child’s seizure symptoms, safety concerns, and seizure action plan. The Epilepsy Foundation of America has developed several forms that may help you with this process including a parent questionnaire, a seizure observation form, and a seizure action plan.
There are many reasons why your child with seizures may have problems learning. Seizures may cause learning problems when they occur frequently or occur at important times for learning. In addition, seizures can cause fatigue, making your child too tired to learn. Medicines for seizures sometimes cause problems with learning, language, and attention. Children with seizures may have abnormalities of the brain in important areas for learning. Finally, it is important to consider a problem with mood or behavior.
It is very useful to document your child’s level of knowledge and learning ability before starting treatment or soon after starting treatment to establish a baseline. Objective measures of your child’s academic progress should be documented carefully by the school and, additionally, by a neuropsychologist.
Most parents struggle at times with their child’s behavior. Children with seizures, however, are more likely than children without seizures to have behavioral issues. It is often challenging for parents and physicians to determine the cause of the behavior problems. Children with epilepsy may feel depressed, frustrated, nervous, scared, or angry. In addition, seizures, medications, and associated brain problems may contribute to behavior problems.
To better understand your child’s behavior, your child’s physician may find it useful to know:
- What are the behaviors of concern? Try to state examples.
- When did the behavior start?
- How have adults responded to the behavior problem?
- Where are the behaviors most likely to occur? Home? School? With friends?
- Are there triggers for the behaviors?
- Do you see any link to your child’s behavior and seizure control, seizure medications/treatments, school problems, family problems, problems with peers?
Parents often fear that disciplining their child will bring on seizures. However, it is important that you set boundaries for your child even if they have epilepsy. You should discuss how to set limits for your child with your child’s physician.
There are many people that can help you get a better handle on your child’s behavior. Ask your child’s neurologist or seizure specialist who would be best able to help.