Charity Christmas Appeal Casts Spotlight on Absence Seizures

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As one of 40 different types of epilepsy, absence seizures currently affect around 10,000 children in the UK. Unfortunately few children receive the prompt diagnosis and treatment they need simply because these momentary black outs, which can happen between 50 and 200 times a day, are often mistaken for daydreaming.

We asked over 500 children, young people and their parents affected by absence seizures about their personal experiences, and the results were staggering.

On average children and young people with absence seizures waited over a year and a half before being diagnosed. Even after a formal diagnosis one third were unhappy with the support on offer at school, college or university. As a direct result, more than 4 in 5 children and young people with absence seizures fall behind in the classroom.

Among the most common issues faced by children and young people with absence seizures, our survey revealed:

  • 81% struggle to keep up in the classroom
  • 60% have trouble taking part in sports and other outdoor activities
  • 55% avoid social situations
  • 46% are made to feel embarrassed by their classmates
  • 41% are made to feel embarrassed by teachers and other staff

Even something most young people would take for granted like getting to school holds real dangers for those with absence seizures – as more than two thirds of children and young people aged 12 or above are scared to cross the road alone.

At the heart of our appeal is a short film that tells the real life story of university student Olivia, who first experienced the significant impact of absence seizures when she was only 11 years old:

When I was younger my teachers thought I was naughty and ‘away with the fairies’, but I was actually having absence seizures. Unlike daydreaming, it’s like having a horrendous nightmare that leaves you feeling completely drained.

I have other types of epilepsy seizures too, but absence seizures are the worst for me because they’re not obvious. At times I have been devastatingly embarrassed. Most people don’t know how to respond when I black out.

You can watch Olivia's true story below.


If you would like to help us reach and support more children with epilepsy like Olivia, please donate to our Christmas appeal using the short and secure form below.

You can also donate £5 right now by texting YEYE18 £5 to 70070 via your mobile phone or simply call 01342 831 245.

Learn more about absence seizures

We're looking for more stories like Olivia's, so if you're under 25 and living with epilepsy, please drop us an email or call us on 01342 831310.