Bringing up a child is in itself a challenging task. Add to that a disease like epilepsy, and your fears and challenges have just compounded many folds. As parents, we always have our hands full with the common concerns about our child but with this added burden of the epileptic condition that our child might have, parenting can get overwhelming.
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic condition, which is characterised by seizures, in which there is involuntary body movements, sensations, behaviours, or awareness.
How do I care for my child with epilepsy?
Caring for a child with epilepsy is no different from caring for a normal child. Witnessing your child’s first seizure can be very scary. However, the right kind of information and preparedness for any eventuality can help in the management of subsequent occurrences.
- Information is the key – It is important to have the knowledge about seizures, the different kind of seizures, the symptoms, etc. Learn as much as possible from the reliable sources about your child’s condition. Understand the dynamics of this disease and what it can do to your child’s overall growth and development. Learn to identify the triggers, if any, that you can prevent. Above all, share this information with your child in an as much simple way as possible, not to overwhelm them, but to prepare them for the eventuality when they are alone. Knowing about their condition in a factual way also helps them to cope with it emotionally. Involve the family members, siblings, friends, etc. in these informative sessions to help them understand how to deal with the illness. Educate all about what to do if your child has a seizure in your absence.
- Safety measures – Ensure that you share all the details with the child’s school, daycare, babysitter, or caretaker on what to do as an immediate first aid if the child has seizures. Keep sharp or heavy objects out of the way of your child to avoid any mishaps. Always accompany your child to places such as parks, swimming pools, etc. Do not try to overprotect your child as it can take away the normalcy from him or her.
- Medications – Understand the effects and side-effects of the drugs prescribed for your child. Ensure that your child does not miss the regimen. Learn from your doctor what to do in case your child did miss taking the drug once or more than once. Keep the school authorities in the loop on your child’s condition and the medication that he needs to take. Make arrangements for him or her to take medication if needed during school hours. Educate the teachers about the potential side-effects and actions to take in such situations.
- Psychological and emotional support – Help your child understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of his or her condition and that it is just a medical condition which can be controlled with proper medical care. Be patient with your child as the medications or the condition may make him or her irritable with anger issues. Find out about the support groups that can help your child cope with it better. On the other hand, sensitise all the people that your child may come in contact with about his or her condition, especially the peer groups so that the child is not taunted as weird or freak.
- Maintain routine – One of the most important factors in caring for a child with such conditions is to maintain a routine, be it regarding his or her play time, school time, eating time, or medication. It is important that your child does not deviate from these routines as much as possible as it can sometimes trigger seizures at unexpected times and place. Help your child understand, that even if he or she does not like the taste of the medicines, it is important to take them to keep the seizures from occurring.
Remember that your child is confused and unhappy about his or her condition. Many times the child may not remember the happenings during a seizure attack. It is important to help the child resume normal activities as soon as possible without over straining. An average child, with or without epilepsy is just an average child and needs to be treated like one. Do not overprotect your child due to your fear, lest you deprive the child of a normal childhood. Talk to your doctor about the risk-free activities that your child can take up. With all these preparations, your child should be able to lead a near normal or normal life.
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- Providing Child Care to Children with Epilepsy – BC Epilepsy Society – Accessed on 11 May 2016 – http://www.bcepilepsy.com/files/information_sheets/providing_childcare_to_children_with_epilepsy.pdf
- Caring for a Child with Epilepsy — Care – Accessed on 11 May 2016 – http://www.care.com/special-needs-caring-for-a-child-with-epilepsy-p1167-q1664.html
- Epilepsy in children – Cleveland Clinic — Accessed on 11 May 2016 – http://my.clevelandclinic.org/childrens-hospital/health-info/diseases-conditions/hic-Your-Child-and-Epilepsy
- How to support a child with epilepsy – Healthy Children — Accessed on 11 May 2016 – https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/head-neck-nervous-system/Pages/How-to-Support-Child-with-Epilepsy-Information-for-Parents.aspx