Treating Epilepsy Doesn’t Make Learning Disorders Vanish

Back of child in sweater looking out at ocean

A new study found that just treating childhood epilepsy isn’t enough.

Epilepsy can be difficult to deal with for anyone, but especially for children. The disorder can cause lifelong trouble for people who have it, although it is possible to control seizures themselves with medication. 

However, epilepsy often comes “bundled” with other problems, such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, or depression, all of which can make learning difficult for children–and make their adult lives a challenge.

Those other issues are not caused by epilepsy, but they are common in people who struggle with the disorder.  to a new study, those issues can continue to cause problems even when seizures are under control. The idea that a person with ADHD might have problems in life unrelated to their epilepsy may seem obvious at first, but the value of the study lies more in the realization that those disorders are not lessened by getting seizures under control.

The study implies that pediatricians seem to worry about getting seizures under control and then assume that the other issues will work themselves out–or they fail to even screen for other problems. In this way, by focusing on the more obvious problem of epilepsy alone, doctors are doing their patients a disservice by not helping them address other problems.

The study found that people with these issues had a harder time succeeding as adults. Of course the situation could be worse if they didn’t have their seizures under control, but the study found that seizures didn’t play as big a role as expected in their struggles.

The take away from all this for educators, parents, and doctors, is that dealing with epilepsy is just one factor in healing children who have the disorder. It’s important to also pay attention to other potential issues, like learning or behavioral disorders, and treat those as well, just as you would for any other children.


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