How to explain epilepsy to children?

1- Be comfortable with epilepsy as a parent:

Parents whose children are suffering from epilepsy often tend to hide this fact from others. They think that they are keeping them safe from social stigmatization and making sure that they would not miss any opportunity in life. However, doing the exact opposite is what would definitely protect children and provide them with several opportunities. That is why parents should show a certain degree of acceptance and understanding of their children’s health condition to everyone they talk to.

2- Talk honestly and openly about epilepsy:

The main message that adults should deliver to kids is that talking about epilepsy shouldn’t be considered as a taboo. It is simply a normal disease that can be openly discussed without any restrictions, just like any other health condition. It is therefore important that adults adopt a positive attitude towards epilepsy and educate young people about it in order to fight misconceptions.

3- Explain that epilepsy is a common disease just like any another

Kids can be naughty with each other especially at an early age. Studies have shown that children suffering from epilepsy are more likely to be victims of very mean mockeries from their peers. Adults should make sure to explain to other kids that suffering from seizures is a health condition just like any other health condition (myopia, asthma attacks etc…). All these different health problems should never deny kids their right to lead a happy and active life.

4- Explain seizures in a smart way

There are plenty of good ways to explain seizures to kids in a non-shocking manner, like investing in their own preferences and affinities. For example, if kids are into scientific videos, choose one and show them what goes on inside the brain during a seizure. A funny comparison between the brain during a seizure and the car engine would also be efficient if kids are into cars. It is also important to let children themselves describe seizure in the way they like. An epileptic little girl has once described it in a very cute way: “It’s like when your radio goes fuzzy as you go through a tunnel”

5- Let children ask their own questions

When kids try to make sense of adults’ explanations about epilepsy, several questions pop up in their minds. That is why adults should pause from time to time and give kids the chance to express their thoughts and present their questions. Children often abstain from sharing their ideas out of fear of being laughed at. It is therefore crucial to make them feel safe to say whatever they want.

6- Let them explain epilepsy and seizure using their own words

Talking to kids about epilepsy is an occasion to correct some misunderstandings and provide them with some new information. However, this should be done in an interactive way. Kids should be given the chance to express themselves and describe epilepsy and seizures using their own words without being criticized or laughed at. Making them feel safe should always be our utmost aim.

7- Explain to them what to do if someone has a seizure when they’re around

There is a list of first aids that should be at least explained to kids so they don’t panic if someone is having a seizure in front of them. Kids are not supposed to give assistance. However, they are expected to know the following:

▪ Where they can possibly find help and who to call

▪ That they mustn’t try to restrain the one affected in any way

▪ That they mustn’t put any objects in their mouths

By Selima Kchouk

Date: 3 September 2020
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