Children with epilepsy (CWE) often have co-existing conditions such as attentional, behavioural or learning difficulties that can impact school performance. This can be even more challenging when teachers lack knowledge of epilepsy and are not trained in how to handle seizures. This can sometimes lead to negative attitudes and increased stigma towards CWE.
Studies have shown that providing teachers with information about epilepsy improves their knowledge and can help them to support CWE in the classroom. However, these educational programs tend to be time-consuming and require a trained instructor. In this study, EpLink investigators were part of a team that asked whether viewing a brief video along with reading an informational booklet could improve teachers’ knowledge of epilepsy. The researchers invited pre-service teachers enrolled at Western University in London, Ontario to participate in the training program, which included viewing a 10.5-minute video about epilepsy and seizures, different types of seizures, first aid and rescue medications, and the mental, social and behavioural consequences of epilepsy. A booklet summarizing the information from the video was also given to the teachers.
57 teachers attended the training session and completed questionnaires about their epilepsy knowledge before and after the session. 75% of the teachers rated the training video as adequate or excellent. The researchers found that teachers’ knowledge about epilepsy, seizure safety and co-existing conditions improved following training. As a group, teachers also reported that they felt more prepared to handle a seizure in the classroom.
This study shows that a brief, cost-effective training video can improve teachers’ knowledge of epilepsy and the challenges that CWE may face in the classroom. This toolkit can help teachers to better support CWE to help them meet their social and academic needs.