What Helps? What Hinders? 2012

What helps children with epilepsy to be included in education?

What factors can hinder inclusion?

These are the questions that the research outlined in this report set out to address. We have investigated whether children with epilepsy are fully included in all aspects of school life. This includes all areas of learning and the curriculum, social engagement and extracurricular activities.

This study is based on first-hand accounts from children with epilepsy and proxy reports from parents of younger participants and those with communication difficulties. We aimed to get a better understanding of ‘what helps’ and ‘what hinders’ children with epilepsy to be included in education. 

  • This research suggests that misconceptions concerning epilepsy can act as a significant barrier to inclusion in education for children with epilepsy.
  • One of the primary barriers to inclusion is a failure by some education professionals and others to recognise the variety of ways epilepsy can present and in particular the mistaken belief that ‘tonic-clonic’ seizures (previously known as ‘grand mal’ seizures) are the only form of seizure.
  • Another significant barrier noted was a failure to appreciate the connection between epilepsy and additional learning needs for some children. Seizure symptoms and difficulties related to epilepsy may be misinterpreted as ‘naughtiness’.
  • Access to high quality medical treatment is a significant facilitating factor for inclusion in education for children with epilepsy; consultants, epilepsy nurse specialists and other medical professionals have been shown to play an important role for these children.
  • Key individuals within schools such as Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCos), Inclusion Officers and school nurses often play a significant role in ensuring that children with epilepsy are able to be fully included in education and school life.
  • Parents play a key role as advocates for children with epilepsy by ensuring that they receive the medical care they require and have the opportunities they need to be fully included in education.