Awareness of Students with Diverse Learning Needs,
What the Teacher Needs to Know, Volume 1
Most people have a sense of panic or fear the first time they seen an individual having a seizure. Students will look to the teacher for a sense of guidance. It is important that the teacher serve as the model in calmly responding to the needs of the student with epilepsy. Other students will attempt to follow this lead.
- At the beginning of the year, meet with the parent and the student if the student is still having seizures. Plan ahead, prepare for the student's special needs, and understand unusual behaviour in the context of the student's medical condition. Seizures are very individual in nature. Therefore, discuss with the parent and student what is normal and what is not for any student with epilepsy. Talk about how the seizure will be handled should it occur in the school.
- Work with a team - teacher, student, parents, professionals. Seek and provide help in observations of performance, if requested. Inform parents of any seizure symptoms or episodes.
- Discuss the most appropriate ways to let other children know about epilepsy. Talk about epilepsy with the class. Explain what it is and what may happen during a seizure. It may be a good idea to call in a community health nurse to give an explanation, if necessary.
- Involve the students in the actual process; once they know what to expect, they can be more helpful. A student may be assigned to act as a "buddy" while the student with epilepsy is readjusting to the classroom after the seizure.
- As some interruption of classroom learning may result from either administering medication or the seizures themselves, some special educational help may be required. In some cases of severe disruption, it may be necessary to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP).
- Be aware that a student may sometimes be regulating medication levels and may be experiencing varying side effects (e.g., alertness, concentration) during this regulation. It is the responsibility of the parents to inform the school of these and any other changes.
- Foster an attitude of understanding and acceptance. The emotional and educational needs of students with epilepsy are the same as those of any other student who is adjusting to a change in lifestyle. The student with epilepsy needs support; the other students need to know how to give it.
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