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Epilepsy in the Classroom

March 31, 2009

I have a student who has epilepsy. This student goes into grand mal seizures in his classes on a regular basis, although he’s only done it once in my class.

hurdleThis is a disability that places a large number of barriers or hurdles in front of him; I think that we, as a school, should be doing what we can to remover barriers rather than add to them.

However, I guess most of his professors call security services when he has a seizure, and in turn they usually call an ambulance, against his explicit wishes. This means he’s pulled out of classes on a regular basis, and sometimes hauled off to the hospital for the day—you can imagine the sort of impact this has on his academic performance.

I guess the school’s policy is designed to minimize the university’s liability, and, as a result, maximize the number of barriers the student has to overcome.

It seems to me that this policy serves the interests of the university but works against the interests of the student (whose tuition dollars the school takes). In sum, it comes close to fitting the definition of “exploitative.”

However, I could be “way off base” on this, as they say. Please feel free to lob counter-arguments (especially if you could offer the perspective of an administrator). I’d love to be proven wrong.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2009 8:44 pm

    I suggest you contact your local epilepsy support organisation (e.g. Epilepsy Foundation in the US., Epilepsy Action in the UK, your State body through Epilepsy Australia in Australia) who would be able to advise and advocate on the behalf of you and your student.

  2. May 23, 2009 4:55 pm

    Typically unless a grand mal seizure lasts more than a few (2-3) minutes or the person injures him/herself in some way (hits head, gets cut, etc) there’s no need to seek medical attention. My recommendation would be for the student to make a few friends in each class who could advocate for him and assist him when he has a seizure. That way when it occurs those people could help clear the area of objects that might harm him (desks, books, etc), make sure he’s safe and ensure an ambulance isn’t called unless it’s truly necessary. This would require some education of those people and possibly (depending on local laws) written instructions for each of them so they could prove they are allowed to advocate for him when he’s not able to do so at any given time.

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    May 26, 2009 12:06 pm

    I think it has come down to a battle of the lawyers at this point, unfortunately. I think both parties will lose.

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