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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Children speak out in groundbreaking epilepsy research

2 August, 2007

Children are calling for a better understanding of epilepsy within
mainstream schools, claims an innovative report by researchers at the
School of Education, Birmingham University.

Supported by
the charity Epilepsy Action, the ‘Understanding of epilepsy by children
with, or without, epilepsy' report looks at how children think and feel
about epilepsy.

The research found that most children with
epilepsy have a clear understanding of the condition. However, the
findings also indicate that children want teachers and classmates,
along with other adults around them, to gain more knowledge about
epilepsy. Children feel that adults would be better placed to support
their epilepsy if they openly discussed the condition and listened to
the views of children.

Although the research showed that
children with epilepsy do worry about the stigma surrounding the
condition, it also found children without epilepsy to be overwhelmingly
sympathetic towards children with epilepsy. In addition, children
without epilepsy would like to know more about the condition and what
they should do if a classmate has a seizure.

When asked
about their ambitions and aspirations for the future, it was found that
the majority of children with epilepsy have a positive outlook. One
child replied: "I hope that there is a better understanding of epilepsy
. . . so other children with the condition can lead normal lives and
everyone around them will understand their condition!"

Professor
Ann Lewis, who led the research, says: "The predominant message from
the report is that children want accurate and helpful information about
epilepsy to be available and discussed in school and other social
groups. In addition, children want this information to be provided
through mainstream contexts such as TV programmes, the internet,
celebrity spokespeople and magazines. If this is carried out, then
children with epilepsy are more likely to make the most of their
schooling and experience wider social inclusion."

The report offers practical
recommendations for how schools in particular can take responsibility
for increasing the awareness of epilepsy amongst children, for example
adopting a whole-school policy to support children with epilepsy.

The full report, including additional recommendations, has been published by Epilepsy Action and is available for viewing at www.epilepsy.org.uk/research