Cognitive difficulties are not confined to young people with severe epilepsy. Young people whose abilities are within the average range can have problems with processing speed or memory, for example, and may need additional learning support.

Difficulties of this nature are often not recognised but clearly have an impact on academic progress and lead to frustration on the part of the young person, parents and school staff.

An exam system based on being able to recall information may be particularly difficult for young people with epilepsy. Discrepancies between grades achieved for coursework and the overall grade given following an exam could be an indicator of memory problems.

Other indicators of cognitive difficulties include reading, spelling, numeracy, sequencing problems; problem solving and memory recall including forgetting what they had read/heard; problems with organising including planning and structuring work and having the right equipment

Strategies that may be useful include:

Memory difficulties

  • Providing information in clear manageable chunks
  • Routine, rehearsal and repetition
  • Using a variety of teaching styles (e.g. VAKs)
  • Focusing less on information retrieval and more on recognition
  • Providing visual aids (e.g. photobooks, flowcharts, checklists, task cards, keywords, timetables)
  • Using mnemonics and songs of reference

Processing difficulties

  • Using a multisensory approach (VAKs)
  • Giving simple tasks or chunking information and activities
  • Using sequential and clear language
  • Using cueing mechanisms
  • Teaching independent strategies (e.g. write lists)
  • Providing learning buddies/Homework clubs
  • Using visual timetables and colour coding
  • Recap as much as possible
  • Provide visual/written information to support verbal instructions

Attention or concentration difficulties

  • Using engaging and varied activities and learning style
  • Teaching and learning at an appropriate pace/timed activities
  • Providing the right learning environment (e.g. consider mood, music, colours)
  • Using visual prompts (e.g. timetable, checklist, egg timers, countdowns)
  • Using eye contact and young person’s name
  • Seating position
  • Allowing regular work breaks
  • Identifying strengths and adjusting teaching style
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Guide for schools

Young Epilepsy helpline: email / call 01342 831342 / text 07860 023789



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