Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Epilepsy and Intellectual Disabilities

Yesterday morning on Twitter, I saw a question about epilepsy and intellectual disabilities.  Are they one condition or separate?  I worked closely with a student with epilepsy and saw the effects it had on him.  I commented that the epilepsy can be the cause of intellectual disabilities.  Another person asked if anything can be done to help them.  I replied with what I thought was a very basic and common sense suggestion.

"Helping them understand what is happening reduces anger & blaming self. Love & accept them."

Given the very low character limits of a tweet, I thought it was a decent suggestion. I angered the original tweeter.

"It isn't that simple, most parents love & accept children, cold parents theories are not valid." was his reply.

I honestly don't understand how he took my simple suggestion of helping the kids through a difficult situation as condemnation of parents and parenting styles. Helping people understand scary situations is a very basic idea. Fear of the unknown can be debilitating. When the unknown involves epilepsy and the person experiencing it is a young child, the fear can turn to anger and self-blame easily.

Loving and accepting them is also very basic- I thought. I was picturing the child in the midst of a seizure. The mild ones can look like he is just not paying attention. The more severe ones are terrifying. Their unpredictability adds another level of fear.

With mild "absence seizures" people do mistake them for the child just daydreaming. A young child won't know what is happening anymore than an observer. He can start to blame himself and think he is just lazy. Frustration and anger follow.

I have no idea how my comment was interpreted as any sort of cure-all or a suggestion that parents are cold. Once upon a time autism was blamed on the mothers being cold and unfeeling. These despicable women were dubbed "Refrigerator Mothers". I thank God that we have moved beyond that theory and no one blamed me for Gabe's autism. Besides, he was my little cuddle bug. He just didn't like anyone else holding him.

Back to the Tweeting....

I said that I was commenting as a teach, not a parent.  

To this he replied " I am sorry in that case. You are not the right person to comment. No offence meant."

Why am I not allowed to comment on this? I worked closely with the family and the child for several years. Even as a substitute teacher, I think of the students as my children. Now that I no longer sub, I still think of them that way. Their health and well-being concern me. If there is anything I can do to help them I will. I watch for signs of a problems. Same as my own kids.

When the original tweeter thought I was a parent, he thought I was condemning other parents for bad parenting. When he found out I was not the parent, he dismissed me as not qualified to comment.  

Damned if I am. Damned if I'm not.

I stand by my original statement but would change "anger" to "fear"

Helping them understand what is happening reduces fear & 

blaming self. Love & accept them.

Amazon.com: Striving for Independence: Ways to Help Children with Disabilities Learn to Function More Indepedently eBook: Kristan Payne: Kindle Store