HELPING YOUR CHILD COPE WITH EPILEPSY: ABSENCE SEIZURES

If your child has staring spells or absence seizures—instances where he or she briefly stops and stares, perhaps with some smacking of his lips, picking at his clothes, or confusion—the chances are that he or she has not had just a single episode. These brief spells are usually diagnosed only after many have occurred. Since you first recognize the problem after the fifth, the tenth, or the one hundredth spell, it is obvious that they are likely to continue to recur unless treated with medication.While less frightening than the tonic-clonic seizure, staring spells cause a particular type of anxiety. Parents are worried that they won’t even know when their child is having a seizure. “Is Jane just daydreaming like all children do, or is she having an absence seizure?” “Should I have yelled at Billy for not taking out the garbage? Did he not hear me? Did he disobey? Or was he having an absence seizure?” Since these seizures are brief and subtle and, therefore, difficult to recognize, it is probably even more important to tell neighbors, friends, grandparents, and the school about the spells. This awareness will permit other people to notice when they occur, to be more tolerant of “daydreaming,” and to be a bit more careful when the child is crossing the street or in a situation where loss of awareness could cause harm. Also, because this type of seizure is likely to occur far more frequently than tonic-clonic seizures (sometimes many times each day or several times per week), staring spells are more likely than the single tonic-clonic seizure to interfere with the child’s functioning.Again, it is important to be truthful, but since the child will be unaware of these spells unless someone tells him, the explanation needs to be handled with sensitivity. “You have little blackouts, episodes where you don’t know what is going on. They’re like static on the radio, a brief second or two when you can’t hear the music.” It is important to use terms appropriate for the age and understanding of the child and to make sure that the words you use are not frightening. Better for you to tell him than for him to be asked awkward questions or be told disturbing stories by other children.*183\208\8*

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 3:19 pm and is filed under Epilepsy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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