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Seizure Disorders

Dear Debi,
My 4-year-old was recently diagnosed with a seizure disorder. What information should I be sharing with his preschool teachers?
Akia Gross
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Partial or total loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in sensory activity
  • Have a plan of action in case of a seizure
  • Share medication information with caregivers
  • Follow through with prescribed medications & treatments
  • Make sure all caregivers know first aid procedures
Expert Advice
Dr. Wendy Mitchell
Dr. Wendy Mitchell
Pediatric Neurologist
Not all seizures mean that your child has epilepsy. For example, febrile seizures, which are most common in young children, can happen once and never happen again. They can even occur in children with good health and can happen suddenly. But a child is only diagnosed with epilepsy if there are 2 or more seizures.

Not all types of convulsions are the type that will make your child fall or even have movement. Sometimes there is a far-off look or just a look in their eyes without experiencing any violent movements. The child could also have a movement in the hand, or even a type of déjà vu, they can become frightened or even become disoriented. Again, it's important that your pediatrician have all the necessary information so they can begin to establish a pattern of seizures and then refer you to a specialist.

There are many ways that a seizure manifests itself. The most obvious kinds are the violent ones, but a seizure can be something as simple as staring into space. For older children, you can also tell if they're having trouble concentrating in school. That's why its important that the teacher give you a full report of what's going on in school, so you can tell your doctor and they can order the proper evaluations.

Seizures and epilepsy are usually diagnosed through a test called "electro encephalogram." These tests have to do with electrical activity in the brain and that is how we check where the seizures originate from and the frequency of them. You can also get an MRI, which is a peek into the brain and its activity, and it can also help you see the structure of the brain and it can help you determine the point of origin. However, about 30% of patients do not see the problem through the MRI.

Some types of epilepsy allow the brain to re-organize itself without medication. Some children don't need medication all their lives and some need help managing them. There is a small percentage (about 30%) that can eliminate medication altogether, yet there are about 10% that are difficult to contain and need other treatments.

Epilepsy can affect a child's ability to learn. If not treated, children can have a tough time doing schoolwork or learning new abilities.

First aid procedures are very important to know if you care for a child who has seizures or is epileptic. You should also be aware of all the things you can do to make the child more comfortable while he or she is having a seizure.
Child Care Provider Comments
Felix Miranda
Felix Miranda
Daughter has epilepsy
When Tiffany was five months old, I was bathing her at home. I had just taken her out of the water and was towel-drying her when she had a convulsion for the very first time. I thought, "Did I do something wrong? Did she swallow bath water? Did I hurt her while drying her body?" I was a nervous wreck. My wife Jessica was working at a hospital at the time and I immediately called her. We were then referred to a neurologist. Tiffany is now on medication to treat her seizures, and is showing big improvements. She now has only 5 or 6 seizures a day - which is down from 90 to 100 a day.
Joe Torres
Joe Torres
Cares for granddaughter with epilepsy
From first-hand experience, I've learned what to do when my granddaughter has a seizure. I watched the way my daughter Jessica took care of her. My daughter is a registered nurse so she has a lot of knowledge in that field. I have been able to pick up on the signs and red flags so that I know when my granddaughter's seizures are going to start. I am able to grab the medicines and take action right away.
Diane Ferguson
Diane Ferguson
Child care provider for 3 years
I have a plan of action for the child in my care who experiences seizures. The mother and I communicated a great deal about what his needs were, what medications he was taking, and what to do in the event of a seizure. I knew what I needed to be aware of in case he had a seizure while in my care. I also took training to learn CPR, medication administration, etc. As a child care provider, you're entitled to receive this kind of training for as long as you need it, and the kind of training you receive depends on the special needs of the children in your care.

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