Seizure response training could soon be required for all Illinois school employees

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A bill in the Illinois Statehouse is designed to make school safer for students with epilepsy. 

If passed, all school employees would have to go through special medical training on how to administer seizure medication. 

The Seizure Smart School Act would also allow parents to submit plans to schools outlining what’s to be done if their child is having a seizure. 

The Epilepsy Foundation of the Quad Cities says there are more than 22,000 with epilepsy in Illinois and each child’s seizure can look different. That’s why allowing parents to submit individual plans is so important.

“I want the comfort of knowing that all the teachers and people that my child interacts with know every day what to do in case he has a seizure at school,” said Courtney Schlichte, whose now 16-year-old son was diagnosed with epilepsy at birth.

Angie Nelson with the Epilepsy Foundation of the Quad Cities said not knowing what to do in schools has been an issue here before. 

“One of our clients, he had a seizure on the school bus and they didn’t really know what to do,” Nelson said.

She said another client was expelled from a local school when administrators mistook side effects from his seizure medicine as a behavioral disorder. 

Schlichte said they’ve been lucky. Her son’s schools have let them submit a seizure plan. 

“The instructions are to wait five minutes to see if the seizure will pass and if not we have emergency medications at school for him that they can administer,” she said.

The plan also outlines what her son’s seizures look like. Instead of full body convulsions, his head and eyes usually turn to the right. 

He’s only had one seizure in school and Schlichte said knowing exactly what to look for enabled the teacher to catch it.

“I can’t imagine being the parent of a child at a school that didn’t have a plan in place,” she said. “He’s able to go to class and be a typical kid and not have to worry about if I have a seizure what’s going to happen or who’s going to take care of me.”

The Epilepsy Foundation of the Quad Cities already provides free seizure training to school nurses, employees and students. The course includes teaching people how to identify types of seizures, how they impact students and first aid. For more information, you can contact Nelson at anelson@efncil.org or at 309-472-6264.

There’s a hearing scheduled for the Seizure Smart School Act tomorrow morning. 

Iowa legislators are also looking at a similar bill. 

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