Explaining Epilepsy to a Child

Talking about epilepsy with your child in a calm manner helps take away his fears.Explain to your child what happened to him in simple terms. If he observed that you were frightened – and that is a normal parental reaction when your child has a seizure – explain that sometimes it can be scary when someone we love is sick, but he’s going to be fine.

There are different types of seizures; some seizures cause people to fall to the ground and shake, others cause people to stare briefly, move repetitively or experience odd sensations. Some types of seizures happen while people are unconscious, others while they are aware of what is happening. You can explain to your child what happens to him and why.

You might say something like this:

The thing that happened to you was something called an epileptic seizure. We all got a little scared when it first happened, but now we know many children have seizures and they recover afterwards.

“Your brain is a little bit like a computer that sends messages to different parts of your body. When someone has epilepsy and they have a seizure, the messages get interrupted. That’s what causes people to fall down or shake like you did.

“You might not remember what happened or you might just remember part of it. After a few minutes the seizure stops by itself, just like when a computer restarts.

“There are different types of epilepsy and the doctors are doing some tests to find out which kind you have and what’s the best way to help you. They’ll probably give you some medicine to try and stop it from happening again.

“Lots of kids have epilepsy, and they’re just fine. Many people all over the world have epilepsy – even top athletes, movie stars and famous people in history. If you have any questions you can ask me, and I’ll try to explain it to you. And if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, then I can ask the doctor or look it up. So you don’t need to worry, but if you do feel worried you can talk to me about it. OK?”

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