Bill aims to support students with epilepsy

Chase Anderson, a grad student at the University of South Alabama, was diagnosed with epilepsy in the third grade after having a seizure in her math class. Three months later she had another seizure, and a few sporadically after that.

“Epilepsy is hereditary for every other female on my mom’s side. I had to take a dosage of pills that has only increased since I first started them. Other than keeping up with sleep and my medicine, I don’t experience anything different than someone of my age without epilepsy,” Anderson said.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of awareness, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Anyone can develop epilepsy. Epilepsy affects both males and females of all races, ethnic backgrounds and ages, the Mayo Clinic says on its website.

Going to school can be stressful for children with epilepsy. They might stress over having a seizure in class or how other students will respond.

Parents are also anxious. They often stress that their child’s teacher may not know how to handle an epileptic seizure or that their child may be treated unjustifiably because of epilepsy.

Educating the school nurse, educators, staff and other students about epilepsy and its treatment, seizure medical aid, and possible stigmas related to epilepsy is very important. A Florida lawmaker wants to make sure it is being done throughout the state.

Florida Senate Bill 340, filed by Ileana Garcia, R-Miami, will help students with epilepsy or seizure disorders, “providing for the creation of an individualized seizure action plan for a student with epilepsy or seizure disorders to receive health care at school; providing requirements for the student’s parent, school nurses, and appropriate school employees; and providing requirements for such plans, according to SB 340.

It would require employees to coordinate the care of such students and ensure that specified training is provided to specified school employees and individuals. It would also provide requirements for training.

Anderson says it’s great that Florida lawmakers would consider helping anyone with a disability. “I think it’s even better that a school would target specific diagnoses to help an individual with their particular needs,” Anderson said.

More than 300,000 school-age children in the United States have epilepsy, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

“I went to a school that was very supportive of those with any sort of ailment,” Anderson said.

SB 340 would require every school to be equipped to deal with epilepsy and seizure disorders. Educating teachers, faculty and staff is the main priority.

After a successful hearing in the Senate’s Education Committee on Jan. 25, SB 340 has moved to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.