If you have a child with epilepsy who is in school, there are many ways we can help!
There are no schools in Pennsylvania that are specifically for people with epilepsy, but you can visit the PA Department of Health, Bureau of Special Education to learn more about Special Education in PA.
We can teach your child’s teachers and classmates how to recognize and respond to seizures with our free Project School Alert seizure training program. We will travel to your child’s school and work around their schedule to educate as many people as possible. Our trainings are always tailored to the specific needs of the school, so we can discuss specifics about your child’s seizures, if you would like us to. Learn more about Project School Alert.
If you think your child may be falling behind in class, you may want to consider an IEP or 504 Plan. In a K-12 setting in public schools, you can request that your child be evaluated to see if an IEP or 504 Plan would enable them to succeed. It is important to note that unless the school receives federal funds, private schools are not required by law to provide accommodations under an IEP or 504 Plan; the only protection for private school students are the rights guaranteed to them under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
After evaluation, the school will need to set up a meeting to discuss the accommodations that will be made and the plan to move forward. This meeting will most likely include the school principal, the guidance counselor or school psychologist, relevant teaching personnel, and a district representative. You will also need to attend. If possible, your child should also attend the meeting to learn valuable skills, like self-advocacy, and so they know what accommodations they receive. Read more on K-12 special education.
When your child graduates high school, accommodations in post-secondary school are different from those in a K-12 setting. All colleges have an office of disability services that provides support and assistance to students with disabilities. It is important that your child make an appointment with this office as soon as they are able, possibly even before the start of the semester, so that accommodations can be made in their classes from the beginning. Most of these appointments are solely with the student and the representative from the office of disability services; this is where self-advocacy skills that your child learned in their IEP or 504 Plan meetings will be necessary! Other things to consider for college education include prescription management and health insurance coverage, all questions that the office of disability services will be able to help your family with.
If you want to increase epilepsy awareness in your child’s school, talk to the administrators about raising awareness. November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, so that is a wonderful time of year to plan something. You could schedule a day when everyone in the building is encouraged to wear purple. The morning announcements could include an epilepsy fact a day for a week. The school could host a Penny War fundraiser, where all of the classrooms compete to see who can collect the most pennies. If you would like suggestions about how to plan an event at your child’s school, we are happy to talk to you and the school about ways to raise awareness in school.