Our next blog installment celebrating Epilepsy Awareness Month was contributed by Gigi Smith, Pediatric Epilepsy Nurse Practitioner, and Robert P. Turner, MD, Pediatric Epileptologist at the MUSC Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Dr. Turner and Ms. Smith have shared their top tips for the parents of children with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is the most common brain disorder in childhood. At least 300,000 children under the age of 14 years have epilepsy in the United States. Epilepsy is more than just seizures. Since epilepsy occurs in the brain it is important to recognize seizures are just one part of this disorder. Most children with epilepsy have normal range of intelligence but there can still be subtle effects on learning, mood, behavior, language, and learning. In addition to following the treatment plan recommended by your epilepsy team to treat your child’s seizures, both parents and the epilepsy team must also watch for other possible effects of epilepsy.
As a parent you can help your child with epilepsy by:
- Keeping a seizure calendar and writing down any concerns you have about your child to share with the epilepsy team during the clinic visit.
- Talk with your child’s teacher frequently to see how your child is doing in school. If there any concerns occur ask the school and your epilepsy team what other interventions might help your child. Sometimes the school or your epilepsy team can perform special testing to see how to help your child at school and home.
- A child who has epilepsy can feel anxious or down as a part of their epilepsy. Sometimes a child with epilepsy may need counseling and/or medication to help with these feelings. Talk to your child if you are concerned they may be feeling anxious or down and share your concerns with the epilepsy team.
- Make sure your child has a Seizure Treatment Plan that tells you and anyone caring for your child what to do if a seizure occurs. This plan can list your child’s current treatment plan of medications and how to contact your epilepsy team if needed.
- Remember that all of us feel better if we sleep at least 8 hours every night, eat three meals a day and don’t skip any meals, and drink enough water each day. This is very true for children with epilepsy as practicing these habits could also help decrease seizure activity.
- Don’t forget to let your child know what they are doing really well and encourage your child to participate in activities of interest. Epilepsy should only be a small part of your child’s life!