Epilepsy and School Readiness in Childhood

Dr. Asuri N. Prasad and his team are studying how well children with epilepsy perform on standardized academic tests when starting school. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, Dr. Prasad and his team have examined the standardized test scores of children with seizures, some of whom also have other neurological conditions (such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and emotional conditions).

Dr. Prasad and his colleagues found that children with epilepsy scored lower on academic tests than their peers without health issues, while children with epilepsy who have other co-existing conditions were likely to score even lower. These results suggest that children with epilepsy and other health impairments are at a greater risk of under-achieving in school.

In addition, Dr. Prasad and colleagues have shown an association between low birth weights as a risk factor for epilepsy. Modeling of results of the performance of children with epilepsy on standardized math tests shows that the epilepsy group tends to lag in the rate of growth in math abilities over time. Assessment of self-esteem scores in children with epilepsy show a great deal of variation in comparison to peers without epilepsy. Those with added health impairments show a significant negative impact on self-esteem in the teenage years.

Therefore, children with epilepsy – particularly with other neurological conditions – may need additional supports within the school system to enhance their academic success. This research shows the need for the school system to invest more time and resources into supporting children with epilepsy and other neurological conditions to improve long term outcomes.

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