Epilepsy Australia has found less than 5 per cent of the 9,500 schools across Australia have received epilepsy specific training.
National President of Epilepsy Australia, Wendy Groot said of nearly 4 million students aged 4-18 years across Australia, it is estimated that 19,201 live with epilepsy, or 1 in 200.
“Considering 0.5% of the student population live with epilepsy…it is imperative schools take an individualised approach to meet each student’s needs,” she said.
As a result, Epilepsy Australia is urging schools to adopt the Epilepsy Smart School program, which follows a three-step process.
- Hold specific epilepsy management plans for each of the school’s students with epilepsy
- Participate in epilepsy specific training
- Hold an event that promotes better awareness and understanding of epilepsy.
“The Epilepsy Smart Schools Program helps schools establish inclusive, safe and educationally sound practices for the benefit of all primary, secondary and special school students,” Ms Groot said.
“First aid training is not enough- beyond seizures and daily medication, teachers need to understand the psychological, social and cognitive impact epilepsy can have and adapt their teaching methods accordingly.”
Children living with epilepsy face challenges related to cognition, learning and day-to-day activities, some of which include:
- Cognitive overload leading to seizures
- Memory difficulties as a side effect of medication
- Not being able to participate in school activities such as sport and camps
- Embarrassment due to seizures
- Negative mood changes due to seizures or medication.
Since 2017, Epilepsy Australia has expanded the program and is working towards all schools eventually becoming recognised as Epilepsy Smart Schools to ensure a safe, inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students living with epilepsy.