How to manage and support epilepsy in infants, toddlers and school going children?

Abnormal movements or behavior due to unusual electrical activity in the brain are known as seizures which is a symptom of epilepsy. But not all people who appear to have seizures have epilepsy.

Epilepsy in Infants & Toddlers:

Usually during the first few years of life when the brain is going through its most dramatic growth and changes, seizures occur most frequently. But diagnosing seizures in this period can be difficult, as infants cannot communicate what they are feeling after a seizure or during medical tests. Avoid learning and developmental delays in infants by recognizing and treating seizures as early as possible. Effective treatment of infants and toddlers with epilepsy can be possible by close observations of parents and caretakers. Parents of infants or toddlers with epilepsy will have many challenges to face. Finding a child care or day care center  for their infant is one of the biggest challenges out of them as some child care centers may not admit children with epilepsy or refuse to give them emergency anti-seizure medication.

School Going Children with Epilepsy:

When children grow older, epilepsy can impact many parts of their lives. It is best to establish routines and set clear rules and limits for them to do well in school. Epilepsy can effect the type of sports they can play, how they are treated by friends and many more aspect in their life. Upsetting a child with epilepsy by stopping certain activities can lead to a seizure. But it should not increase the risk of a seizure if you stay calm and your child is old enough to understand the cause of stopping a certain behavior.

How to Support a Child with Epilepsy:

Children with epilepsy can live active lives as others and can involve in sports and other activities. You can encourage your child to participate in different activities that your child can do. It depends upon the kind of epilepsy your child have, the success of treatment, and many other factors that how much and to what extent epilepsy interrupts the life of your child. Help him become more independent as your child grows.
The following things you can do to encourage & support a child with epilepsy:

  • Learn as much as you can about epilepsy.
  • Discuss epilepsy and its consequences openly and honestly with your child.
  • Help your child talk openly and honestly with others about epilepsy.
  • Encourage your child to participate in sports, hobbies, and other activities where he/she has interest.
  • Be positive.
  • Avoid saying things that could make your child feel like a problem or burden.
  • Praise the success of your child.
  • Help your child make friends.
  • Work with your child to explain epilepsy to friends, relatives, teachers, and others.
  • Take care of yourself so that you are physically and mentally feel better and will be able to care for your child.
  • Continue family activities and traditions.
  • Build a support network for you and your child. These include Epilepsy Foundation, Parent Training and Information Centers.
  • Follow a regular routines, schedules, and structure which will help keep you busy.
  • Have your child take medication at the same time every day as prescribed by the doctor.
  • Involve your child in taking charge of his/her medications.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep to lower the risk of seizures.
  • Schedule a regular time for homework.

Other disorders that can look like seizures:

Some children experience sudden episodes that might imitate seizures and are mistaken as seizure which are really not. These include:

  • Breath holding
  • Fainting
  • Facial or body twitching
  • Sleep disorders such as night terrors, sleepwalking and cataplexy

These episodes may occur just once or may recur over a limited time period. Although these episodes may resemble epilepsy, they require different diagnostic tests and treatment.