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Caring for a Child with Epilepsy

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The challenges of parenting are compounded if your child has epilepsy. Not only do you have the normal concerns about raising a child, but now you have to address emotional concerns both you and your child may have arising out of living and dealing with epilepsy.

Emotional Toll of Epilepsy

It's natural for a child who has a chronic illness or who is different from other children to feel resentful. Children with an illness such as epilepsy may develop emotional problems, such as poor self-esteem or depression. These problems may come from within (anger, embarrassment, frustration), or from outside (children with epilepsy may be teased by other children).

As a parent, you can help your child deal with these feelings:

  • Make sure your child understands as much about his or her disease as possible. Fortunately there are many resources available specifically for children.
  • Try to get your child to be positive about his or her disease and focus on things he or she can do. Having epilepsy may place some restrictions on your child. But in general, your child should be able to take part in most activities he or she wants to take part in.
  • Help your child accept being a “different normal” and accept that there will be some risk involved in activities.

As for your other children and the rest of your family, there are things you can do to help them adjust:

  • Be sure your other children understand about their sibling's illness. If they are feeling neglected, try to spend more time with them.
  • If you think it's necessary, seek family counseling to help everyone understand how to deal with the illness.
  • Let your extended family know about your child's illness and answer any questions they may have.
  • Try to educate everyone on what to do if your child has a seizure. That way, they will not be afraid of witnessing one.

Children and Epilepsy Drugs

If your child is taking epilepsy drugs, you can work with your child's doctor to make sure that your child is taking them correctly. You will need to:

  • Learn the schedule for the medications (how many times a day to take them, whether they should be taken with food, etc.).
  • Find out what to do if your child forgets to take a dose of medication.
  • Know if any of the medications require blood tests.
  • Be aware of the potential side effects of the medications and what to do about them.
  • Ask the doctor what to do if your child is ill or has a fever. (Fever sometimes brings on seizures.)
  • Make sure your child's school knows that he or she takes epilepsy medication, and that arrangements are made for him or her to take it at school (if necessary).
  • Always carry a detailed list of your child's medications.

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