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Epilepsy is a neurological condition impacting the nervous system causing seizures.
In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neural activity is disrupted causing seizures. Depending on where in the brain the seizure takes place a student may experience convulsions, muscle spasms, or loss of consciousness. Most seizures only last a minute or two but the resulting confusion or exhaustion may last longer. Some students may be aware of seizure triggers (situations or events that may bring on a seizure) but others have no known triggers. Most individuals with epilepsy are able to control the severity or frequency of seizures through medication. However stress, sleep patterns, and visual and sound patterns may trigger seizures. For a period after a seizure, students may exhibit fatigue, short-term memory deficits, difficulty writing, or appear disoriented.

Observing Epilepsy in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following characteristics in students with epilepsy:

  • May appear disoriented
  • May leave classroom abruptly
  • May experience petit or grand mal seizures


Related Functional Characteristics

Chemical Sensitivity : Seizures can be triggered by chemical sensitivity such as ammonia or pesticides.

Fatigue (Cognitive) : Cognitive fatigue in students with epilepsy can be due to seizures or side-effects of certain types of medication.

Flicker or Pattern Sensitivity : Exposure to repetitive patterns, flickering video, stroboscopic lights, and fluctuating sounds may trigger seizures.

Information Processing Speed : Seizures can cause disruption of the ability to process incoming information and in the integration of information.

Long Term Memory Deficit : Seizures can cause damage and interference with memory processes that may impair the ability to learn new information or retrieve what has already been learned.

Processing Deficit (Visual) : Epileptic seizures interfere with visual processing and can impact what a student is able to visually process.

Risk for Injury : Students with epilepsy may be at risk for injury due to seizures.

Seizures : Seizures are a characteristic of epilepsy.

Sequencing Deficit : Students with epilepsy may have sequencing difficulties due to seizures that cause interruptions in their ability to process information.

Service Animal Needs : Students may have a service animal trained to detect an impending seizure.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.