EPILEPSY AS A PSYCHO-SOCIAL DISEASE: THE CHILD’S SELF-PERCEPTION – WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

Age-appropriate discussion of epilepsy, of your child’s particular type of seizures, and of the reason for taking medication is an important first step in an understanding and an acceptance of his condition. In one study, many children still believed they could swallow their tongues during a seizure. They feared that they might die. Unfounded apprehensions seem to be more damaging than the reality. Shielding your child from the facts to prevent him “from being scared” is more likely to lead to worse, but unspoken, fears than an honest and open discussion.
Your attitude toward your child and his seizures will affect his own. If you are frightened, he may be too, even if he doesn’t understand why. If you are overprotective, he may respond by either becoming dependent or rebellious Understanding that he is normal most of the time and honest calmness on your part will allow your child to get on with the process of developing independence and competence.
It should be the job of your physician and the team to assure that issues of honesty, overprotection, and dependency have been discussed with you and your spouse, and that you have come to terms with them. The epilepsy team should also discuss the seizures, medication, and reasonable restrictions with your child and make sure that you also have discussed them with him in age-appropriate terms.
Remember, ultimately epilepsy is your child’s problem. If the seizures continue or if he must continue to take medication, then he will have to assume responsibility for his condition and its treatment. If your child is given a sense of control from the beginning, he will feel more responsible for his future life. We try to have these discussions with children when they are as young as five or six years of age. Responsibility clearly increases with age, but participation can rarely begin too early.
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EPILEPSY AS A PSYCHO-SOCIAL DISEASE: THE CHILD’S SELF-PERCEPTION – WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?Age-appropriate discussion of epilepsy, of your child’s particular type of seizures, and of the reason for taking medication is an important first step in an understanding and an acceptance of his condition. In one study, many children still believed they could swallow their tongues during a seizure. They feared that they might die. Unfounded apprehensions seem to be more damaging than the reality. Shielding your child from the facts to prevent him “from being scared” is more likely to lead to worse, but unspoken, fears than an honest and open discussion.Your attitude toward your child and his seizures will affect his own. If you are frightened, he may be too, even if he doesn’t understand why. If you are overprotective, he may respond by either becoming dependent or rebellious Understanding that he is normal most of the time and honest calmness on your part will allow your child to get on with the process of developing independence and competence.It should be the job of your physician and the team to assure that issues of honesty, overprotection, and dependency have been discussed with you and your spouse, and that you have come to terms with them. The epilepsy team should also discuss the seizures, medication, and reasonable restrictions with your child and make sure that you also have discussed them with him in age-appropriate terms.Remember, ultimately epilepsy is your child’s problem. If the seizures continue or if he must continue to take medication, then he will have to assume responsibility for his condition and its treatment. If your child is given a sense of control from the beginning, he will feel more responsible for his future life. We try to have these discussions with children when they are as young as five or six years of age. Responsibility clearly increases with age, but participation can rarely begin too early.*212\208\8*

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