Epilepsy can have a significant impact on the ability to attend school regularly for at least some part of a young person’s education.
Schools should consider how their policies on attendance affect young people with epilepsy. For example, young people shouldn’t be penalised for absences related to their condition and pupil incentives for improving attendance should be achievable. Good communication with the young person and their family can help ensure they get the support they need at school to maximise their attendance and improve their educational outcomes.
Young people with epilepsy may miss lessons more often than their peers. This can be due to:
- Attending medical appointments
- Establishing new medication routines
- Recovering from seizures
- Many young people experience tiredness, confusion, headaches and need to sleep after a seizure
- Injuries sustained during a seizure may also result in periods of school absence
Prolonged periods of absence because of a stay in hospital can make it harder for a young person to return to school. A young person’s overall school experience and separation anxiety can also affect a young person’s attendance. A feeling of being different to peers may lead to emotional problems, worry, stress and anxiety. Bullying and reluctance to attend school as a result can lead to school refusal.
Some young people may be removed from class and sent home from school following every seizure. Some young people may just need to sleep or have time to rest before they are able to rejoin a lesson. Schools should find a way of being able to accommodate these rest periods to avoid unnecessary absence.