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Epilepsy's impact on learning

Guide for schools

Here, you’ll find an overview of how epilepsy affects learning in young people, with links to detailed information on other pages, covering all key areas. Learning strategies for addressing the communication, cognition and motor skills issues that young people with epilepsy often experience due to seizures, seizure-related factors and anti-seizure medications. 

You’ll also find information about our Assessment of Behaviour and Learning in Epilepsy (ABLE) tool for identifying and addressing learning difficulties.   

How does epilepsy affect learning in young people? 

Epilepsy can affect learning in young people in five main ways: 

  1. Seizure-related factors e.g. tiredness 
  2. Side effects of anti-seizure medications 
  3. Having epilepsy co-occurring conditions, including emotional disorders 
  4. Psychological and psychosocial issues  
  5. The underlying cause of their epilepsy 

You can also find out more about seizures and anti-seizure medications here and about epilepsy and co-occurring conditions, including emotional disorders and psychological and psychosocial issues here


Assessment of Behaviour and Learning in Epilepsy (ABLE) tool 

Learning difficulties and academic underachievement as a result of having epilepsy are often overlooked. 

That’s why Young Epilepsy has developed the Assessment of Behaviour and Learning in Epilepsy (ABLE) tool. 

The ABLE tool is a simple questionnaire that school staff and parents can use to identify areas in cognition and behaviour that might affect learning in a young person with epilepsy.  

Download the ABLE tool here.

This information, and any planned support arrangements, should be included in the young person’s individual healthcare plan, which every young person with epilepsy should have. 

The ABLE tool questionnaire should be revisited regularly to identify any changes in support needs. 

If a young person with epilepsy shows deterioration or plateauing in their learning, you should let their parents know, so they can pass the information on to the young person’s healthcare team.  

In this section of the guide


Seizures, related factors and anti-seizure medications can affect a young person communication.


Young people with epilepsy can have problems with memory.

Motor skills 

Young people with epilepsy may experience problems with motor skills.


Information for schools about transitions for pupils with epilepsy.


Information about how sleep is affected in pupils with epilepsy.


Information about how school attendance is affected in pupils with epilepsy.

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

Other sections of the guide that may be of interest

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

Epilepsy impact on emotions & behaviour

Epilepsy can have a profound effect on a young person's emotions and behaviour, which can produce a range of emotional responses that make academic achievement at school difficult.

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

UK legal frameworks

An overview of the different laws and systems in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

Key elements of support

The key elements of support that schools should have in place to ensure all young people with epilepsy are safe and included in school life

Young Epilepsy Guide for Schools

About seizures

Information about seizure types, triggers, first aid, treatments, records, and emergency medication for schools