Epilepsy Coping Caring

Epilepsy is an extremely complex disorder, and caring for a child with epilepsy involves much more than just seizure management. Compared with their peers, children with epilepsy are more likely to experience:

  • Behavioral disorders
  • Learning disorders
  • Low self-esteem.

As a parent, you can help your child overcome some of these obstacles to have the highest quality of life possible.

Behavioral Problems in Children with Epilepsy

According to researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, almost 25 percent of children with epilepsy have behavioral problems, and this number rises to 56 percent in children with epilepsy who also have neurological problems and uncontrolled seizures. The most common behavioral problems associated with epilepsy in children include:

  • Aggression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness
  • Irritability.

Parents may be unwilling to discipline their child, fearing that the distress will cause her to have a seizure. There are a variety of safe ways to modify undesirable behaviors in children with epilepsy. Some of these are:

  • Ignoring inappropriate behavior
  • Keeping a routine
  • Rewarding good behavior
  • Staying positive about your child’s epilepsy (this may have a positive effect on his attitude, as well).

Learning Disorders in Children with Epilepsy

As with behavioral problems, there are many factors that contribute to the prevalence of learning disorders in childhood epilepsy. Even children with well-controlled seizures and no neurological or cognitive problems often have difficulty learning. The most common learning disorders in children with epilepsy are:

  • Inattentiveness and difficulty concentrating
  • Lower intellectual capacity and/or speed of processing information
  • Short-term memory problems.

Children with epilepsy tend to score lower academically than their peers. This can aggravate behavioral problems and lower their self-esteem. You can help your child by:

  • Encouraging her to develop other skills and talents
  • Maintaining open communication with her about any social or academic issues she may be having at school
  • Maintaining open communication with her teacher
  • Providing extra help with homework.

Childhood Epilepsy and Low Self-Esteem

Helping your child develop a positive self-image may be one of your biggest challenges as a parent. Low self-esteem can be more devastating to your child than the seizures themselves. You can help raise your child’s self-esteem by:

  • Being open with her about her disorder, and listening to her feelings about it
  • Encouraging her to excel in her strengths and talents
  • Helping her succeed academically
  • Maintaining a positive and encouraging attitude yourself.

According to The Epilepsy Foundation of America®, parents’ efforts to protect their child by limiting his physical and social activities can be very detrimental to him. Not only is physical activity beneficial to your child’s health, but it also allows him to interact with other children and encourages a positive self-image.

Conclusions: Childhood Epilepsy

Caring for a child with epilepsy is challenging, but there are many resources and support groups available for parents. It’s important to keep your doctor abreast of what is going on with your child, as she can refer you to other health specialists who can him to succeed in overcoming these challenges.

Resources

Donner, E. J., et al. (2006). Coping with epilepsy. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Epilepsy/Coping-with-Epilepsy.aspx?articleID=6837