Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures. There are treatments available for epilepsy, but there is no cure.


Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures. There are treatments available for epilepsy, but there is no cure. Epilepsy may occur as a result of a genetic disorder or an acquired brain injury, such as a trauma or stroke. During a seizure, a person experiences abnormal behavior, symptoms, and sensations, sometimes including loss of consciousness. There are few symptoms between seizures. Epilepsy is usually treated by medications and in some cases by surgery, devices, or dietary changes. Epilepsy, the fourth most common neurological disorder, affects people of all ages and can cause unpredictable seizures.

Epilepsy is a progressive disease that is catastrophic to the developing brain. It is a chronic medical condition that is marked by recurrent seizures. A seizure is an event of altered brain function which is caused by abnormal or excessive electrical discharges from brain cells.

Seizures and epilepsy are not the same. An epileptic seizure is a transient occurrence of signs and/or symptoms due to abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. Epilepsy is a disease characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of this condition. Translation: a seizure is an event and epilepsy is the disease involving recurrent unprovoked seizures.

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders, it affects up to one percent of the population in the US. More than 45,000 children are diagnosed with Epilepsy each year.

Some patients with epilepsy do have learning or memory difficulties and alterations in mood or behavior, which should be brought to the attention of the treating neurologist for appropriate diagnostic testing and treatment.


  • Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.
  • The seizures in epilepsy may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but often the cause is completely unknown.
  • The following signs may indicate a seizure: Staring and Unresponsiveness, Confusion. Jerks and Twitches, Wandering, Shaking or Falling, Picking or Lip Smacking.
  • Epilepsy is a treatable disorder with two-thirds of patients becoming seizure-free on medication.
  • Depending upon the degree of seizure control, patients who have epilepsy can participate in many of the same activities that other people do.
  • An Epilepsy diagnosis can be confirmed through an EEG. An EEG is a video monitoring of the child’s neurological activity.
  • More people live with Epilepsy than Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy combined.
  • One in 26 people will develop Epilepsy in their lifetime and anyone can develop it.
  • What happens in a seizure may look different from person to person. However, each person has stereotypic seizures.
  • Children and seniors have a higher risk of developing Epilepsy. Thirty percent of those diagnosed each year are children.
  • Epilepsy means the same thing as “seizure disorders.”
  • Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures and can cause other health problems.
  • Epilepsy is a spectrum condition with a wide range of seizure types and control varying from person-to-person.
  • Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well.
  • During childhood there are several other conditions that may be mistaken for seizures, both grand mal and petite. Some of the common entities that are misdiagnosed as seizures include: Breath Holding Spells, Syncope Fainting, Psychological Conditions, Staring Spells Due to Inattention/



  • Supports for students with epilepsy:

[Implement] a 504 for extended time, additional breaks and special consideration for absences. Also…pursue OHI [for] more funding and services.

[A student’s] epilepsy being well maintained doesn’t automatically exclude it from an OHI determination.  It could be argued that the diagnosis warrants another look, but he would absolutely qualify for a 504.  The bigger issue is what accommodations would work for him. Here’s the language from IDEA too.  Since he may need the funding that comes with an IEP, it would be nice to get him qualified.  I’ve had kiddos I have to send through the routine more than once to make sure we aren’t missing things. If you don’t catch it now, it will be harder for him later.

IDEA states that:

Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that—

(i) Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and

(ii) Adversely affects a child’s educational performance. [§300.8(c)(9)]

I would think [OHI] would be a more appropriate area of eligibility for your student because his learning has been impacted by a health concern and he can receive additional pull out/push in services to support academics under that area.  He’s also eligible for a 504 plan in the meantime, if you haven’t considered that yet. I’d also continue RtI services. We have another student with epilepsy that has a 504. Her accommodations include: peer education for classmates- with parent permission- (LOVE the book Taking Seizure Disorders to School), info about potential seizures included in notes for guest teachers, small group and extended time for standardized testing and available for classroom activities and assessments as needed, adequate time to make up instruction and work from seizure related absences/tardies. Others to consider could be: visual aids, hands on/manipulative materials provided during learning when possible, check for understanding, check in/check out.

I had a student a long time ago that had similar issues. It was a little girl that was tested for SLD two times, did not qualify, but we knew something was up.  Eventually, we got some sort of doctor’s statement and we were able to place her with traumatic brain injury. But it took a while and we had to keep doing RT, documenting what we were doing.  She also had a very involved parent that kept working with us and the doctors.

(Counselor Talk, Sept. 2017)


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