What to Say (and Not Say) to Your Children About Epilepsy

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What to Say (and Not Say) to Your Children About Epilepsy

After a Seizure:

If your child witnesses a seizure, explain what happened using simple yet concrete terms. For a younger child try: “When someone has a seizure, their brain isn’t able to control what they’re doing for a short period of time.” And for an older kid: “A seizure is a change in a person’s behavior because of abnormal electrical activity in their brain.” Suggest what they should do (and not do) to help. Depending on their age, they may be able to time a seizure or protect the person having the seizure. 


At the Dinner Table:

When you are in a safe, familiar setting, ask your child if they have any questions. Avoid complicated medical terminology. First, explain the different types of seizures and their manifestations. Then, once your child is comfortable, you can introduce appropriate vocabulary—such “generalized,” “focal aware,” and “focal impaired awareness.” Being self-assured can give children a confidence boost. If you’re hesitant, they will be too.


In the Classroom:

Encourage kids to speak up about epilepsy and to discourage myths that may come up at school (for example, that the chronic condition is contagious).  These conversations will give children the building blocks they need to speak honestly and openly about epilepsy to their teachers and classmates.


Originally printed in EpilepsyAdvocate, Fall 2018

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