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Teaching with epilepsy

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by cupofteacher, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. cupofteacher

    cupofteacher New commenter

    Hi all :)
    I am starting my GTP in September, and having had myoclonic epilepsy (petit mal) since the age of 9, I was just wondering if there are any other teachers who have any advice at all?

    Things that I am worried about currently are;
    My epilepsy worsens under stress, I have taught several lessons and where I have been observed my epilepsy goes haywire!! I daze out for anywhere up to 15 seconds, which may not sound like long but it feels it when I am teaching!! I know that as my career progresses I will find observations etc a bit easier!

    So far I don't think students have noticed, however as my epilepsy is worsening I am concerned I may have a grand mal seizure, or larger fit at school. My drama teacher had epilepsy when I was at school and she told us right at the beginning what to do etc....BUT I was in year 10...and in my school I will be teaching from year 7 upwards. I don't want to scare any students, and I don't want to make it sound like a big deal, because it shouldnt be really! But I also would like to know what to do if I should have a grand mal fit in front of students...I think I am worried about their reactions!

    Tiredness!! I get soooo tired, very easily. I find I have to have about 10 or 11 hours of sleep a night to feel OK the next day, and I hear stories about teachers staying up til the early hours planning...Is it reasonable of me to expect to use the weekends for planning time and therefore be able to sleep normally?

    I did declare my epilepsy to the GTP people, and they still accepted me so I am guessing from their perspective they feel it will not hinder my career, but any advice would be greatly received!

  2. In accordance with the DDA the school should ensure you have a permanent TA with you who can take over the lesson when you phase out.
    As for planning, I do nothing on a night. I work through breaks and free periods then do a couple of hours on a weekend. I get 10 hours sleep a night whic his what I need.
  3. Well ithinkineedabhug,
    I've have epilepsy all my life. It was diagnosed 25 years ago when I was finishing my training year and it has messed up my career big time.
    1. Authorities will say that they understand epilepsy the fact is they don't and if you underperform they will penalise you.
    2. Epilepsy is less well tolerated in schools than it was 25 years ago. I have been disciplined for the grievious offence of having a seizure in front of a pupil. Despite the fact that my Neurologist who is Head of the NSE had written to my employers to explain refactory seizures and petit mal, Head teachers (yes plural) have reacted badly on numerous occasions. On the plus side some schools are very supportive and helpful.
    3. The problems caused by medication are well documented but you may not find much sympathy from stressed out colleagues.
    4. Try to educate your employers, they will need it.
    5. Go to Radio 4 web page and download the recent (22nd Feb. 2011) podcast about epilepsy from Medical Matters. It may help. I know personally several of the speakers (J D and S C) and it's a well thought out presentation. Very good on the side effects of Anti Convulsants.
    6. Hope you never need to press for legal assistance but just in case join a union.
    7. Stay healthy. Never get drunk and exercise well. I have found exercise at a gym helps to make the side effects of the medication less of a problem and helps to keep the seizures at bay. You never know with good exercise the problem may resolve itself.

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