Q&A For Kids – When Mom or Dad have Epilepsy

What is Epilepsy?

Your brain is constantly sending “signals.” These signals tell your lungs to breath, your hands to clap your feet to walk; all of the conscious and unconscious actions your body makes. Epilepsy is a condition that causes someone’s brain to “misfire” or sends a set of different signals. When this happens, the person has a “seizure. Their body may begin to jerk. They could become unconscious. This usually lasts a few minutes and generally is not harmful.

What is a “Seizure”?

A seizure is something that happens when, for a few minutes, a person’s brain doesn’t work quite right. It’s like when an electrical short circuit, or like a TV signal that doesn’t get through for just a few minutes.

What happens when Mom or Dad have a Seizure?

When moms or dads have seizures, their bodies do things they can’t control. Not everybody who has a seizure acts the same way. Some people’s arms move up and down. Other people fall down and start shaking. Some people who are having a seizure may seem like they’re staring at something, or like they can’t hear what you’re saying. They may not be able to answer you when you talk to them. They may say things that don’t make sense.

Do they get hurt?

When someone has a seizure, they don’t feel any pain. As long as they don’t bump into anything while having the seizure, they won’t hurt themselves. And people do not die just from having a seizure. Most people feel and act normal again as soon as the seizure is over. And most seizures only last a short time.

Will anything help make my mom or dad’s seizures go away?

A doctor will give your mom or dad medicine to help the seizures stop. They may have to try several different kinds of medicine before finding the right combination to make the seizures stop. Sometimes, medicine can stop the seizures from happening most of the time, but not all the time.

Will my mom or dad’s seizures ever go away?

Some people who have epilepsy stop having seizures after a while. Other people have seizures all of their lives. Some people with epilepsy don’t have seizures as long as they take their medicine but start having them again if they stop taking their medicine. Doctors are still trying to learn exactly how to make epilepsy go away.

Why do some moms and dads have seizures?

Sometimes there is simply no explanation for why someone has seizures. But we do know that it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s not your mom’s or dad’s fault, and it’s certainly not your fault!

Are seizures contagious?

Absolutely not. You can get as close as you like to someone who has seizures and never catches them. It is just the way that person was “made.” For example, you wouldn’t “catch” brown hair from being near someone with brown hair!

If my mom or dad has seizures, does that mean I will have them, too?

Very few children whose moms or dads have seizures have them, too, and overall, moms and dads with seizures have them pretty infrequently. If you are worried about having seizures, you might want to talk about this with your mom or dad, and your doctor. Sometimes, talking about things that you are worried about can help you stop worrying!

Will the seizures make it hard sometimes for my mom or dad to take care of me?

Most moms and dads that have had seizures can still do all the really important things that you need them to do. But sometimes, something may have to wait. While moms or dads are having a seizure, they can’t walk you to a friend’s house or read you a book. For a few hours after the seizure ends, your mom or dad may even need to rest or go to the doctor or the hospital for a little while. It might be a good idea for you and your parents to talk about choosing an adult you know who can take care of you if your mom or dad isn’t feeling well.

Is there anything I can do to help my mom or dad feel better during a seizure, or after it?

Talk to your mom or dad about how you can do to help. Together, you can come up with a list of helpful things you can post on your refrigerator that’s easy to see. It’s also important to know how to call 911 if mom or dad gets hurt during the seizure, or doesn’t wake up after a seizure.

Remember, just being understanding helps, too. This means realizing that sometimes there’s nothing your mom or dad can do to stop the seizures. You just have to be patient.