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  • Epilepsy Australia says, epilepsy training is needed in more schools

    Author: AAP

Epilepsy training is needed in more schools to help teachers recognise the signs of seizures and to help students cope, Epilepsy Australia says.

Launceston mum Georgina Schilg used to worry that teachers would mistake her daughter's epileptic seizures for her not listening.

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But not anymore.

Ms Schilg knows that 10-year-old Sophie's teachers are able to recognise her daughter's symptoms and call her, or an ambulance, if needed.

Sophie doesn't always go unconscious when she has a seizure but does turn pale, struggles to speak, becomes unsteady on her feet and her eyes can roll back.


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"I was always hoping they would pick up on the fact that she was having seizures," Ms Schilg said.

"Now staff have a much better understanding of what to look for and they felt more confident in dealing with Sophie."

It's all because the mum picked up the phone and asked Epilepsy Australia about what help she could get at the school.

The organisation helped introduce the Epilepsy Smart School program which educates teachers about epilepsy and seizures and how to react, take notes and create a safe environment.

Despite nearly one in 200 students having epilepsy in Australia, less than five per cent of schools and teachers received any epilepsy-specific training.

Ms Schilg wants to see more being done to help families like hers.

"These kids have so many challenges with epilepsy and it can impact their whole life," she said.

"For staff to have a better understanding, it's so much nicer for the kids."

Currently only 475 schools across the country meet requirements to create a safe and supportive educational environment for students with epilepsy, according to Epilepsy Australia.

"It is imperative schools taken an individualised approach to meet each student's needs," the organisation's president Wendy Groot said.

"First aid training is not enough - beyond seizures and daily medication, teachers need to understand the psychological, social and cognitive impact epilepsy can have and adapt their teaching methods accordingly."

Since 2017 the organisation has expanded the program so all Australian schools are eligible to become recognised as an Epilepsy Smart School.


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