Byline: Donna Criswell
I’ve been a DEN member since 2006, serving on the Massachusetts Leadership Council, Events and Blog Committees. I’ve attended many great DEN events sharing exciting ideas about teaching and learning with many amazing colleagues from around the DEN community. I am also the mother of a beautiful, educated, and talented daughter who happens to have epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that produces seizures … electrical surges in the brain. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, “Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. They can have many symptoms, from convulsions and loss of consciousness to some that are not always recognized as seizures by the person experiencing them or by health care professionals: blank staring, lip smacking, or jerking movements of arms and legs.”
This illness has transformed not only my daughter’s life, but the lives of every person in her life. Her first grand mal seizure occurred on her first day of high school. She never made it to school that day. We heard the crash to the floor and found her unconscious, with her eyes rolled up, and frothing at the mouth. We thought she had electrocuted herself while drying her hair after showering early that morning. However, this was to be the first of many seizures she would experience even to this day at age 35. It took her 8 years to finish college due to the debilitating effects of the various medications. She perseveres as best as she can.
As an educator, but more importantly, as a parent, I was often concerned about what teachers and staff would do if she suffered a seizure in school. There are many misconceptions about what to do to help someone while they are seizing. Fortunately, the Epilepsy Foundation provides a wealth of materials and resources for educators (as well as nurses, medical personnel, parents, and so much more) that educates people on the signs to look for and the steps to take when a student suffers a seizure while under their care. In fact, educators can take a 60 minute course that is available right now on their site that can help people better understand what this disease is, how a student can be supported during a seizure, and to understand the possible ways it can affect a student afterward. Anyone who interacts with children can take this course. You can also earn ‘education credit’ for completing this program. Click this link to access the Seizure Training For School Personnel program.
For more information, here is a Glog that I created to inform people about epilepsy: Epilepsy Awareness. This is a far more common health issue than most realize and one that I personally wish was more in the forefront of current research.
Soon after this post was drafted by Donna, her daughter, Sharon Gath, passed away tragically at the age of 35 years old.
This post is dedicated in memoriam to Sharon Marie Gath (1978-2013).