Students with epilepsy face a number of challenges in school including managing medication side-effects, coping with anxiety about having a seizure in front of friends, and overcoming the debilitating physical and cognitive effects of epilepsy. While schools cannot change many of the challenges students with epilepsy live with, one thing that schools can do is ensure a safe environment with personnel who are trained in seizure identification and first aid. Unfortunately, not all schools require or have these basic accommodations for students with epilepsy.
When a recurring eye twitch led to a diagnosis of epilepsy,Paul St. Pierre found himself trying to gain seizure control while managing medication side effects and trying to maintain his grades. Adding to these challenges, Paul’s teachers and school administrators seemed to have little knowledge of epilepsy and would simply send him to the school nurse by himself after he suffered a seizure – which can be dangerous for a person in the post-ictal state. After discovering that there were 12,000 kids in New Jersey with epilepsy, Paul and his mother Colleen set out to make a difference. With the help of their state senator, they gathered support for a bill to ensure epilepsy education and seizure safety in all New Jersey schools. The resulting law, entitled “Paul’s Law”, has brought some comfort to Garden State students living with epilepsy.
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