By Nur Ashabiena Mohd Ashraff
As an educational therapist, I make it a habit to find out more about this student of mine before the lesson takes place. The most crucial questions that I would ask his parents would be:
- How did he behave in school and at home today?
- When did he recently take his medication?
- Is there any seizure that has just happened recently?
- Is there anything that I need to be aware of?
These questions are crucial as they actually help me to plan and execute my lesson in a way that is not too taxing for my student with epilepsy.
Question 1 allows me to figure out the amount of work that I can do with him, as well as, the mode of lesson delivery. Generally, if he behaves well in school and at home, he is most likely to cooperate in my class. However, if he shows frustrations and unwillingness to complete his work in school and at home, he is most likely willing to do the least amount of work that I planned for.
Questions 2 and 3 allow me to predict his ability to pay attention in my class. AEDs medications that have been just consumed recently will result in a decrease in intellectual functioning, attention and memory (as mentioned previously).
As an educational therapist, I remind myself that I should not be quick to judge my student whenever he is reluctant to do work. Instead, I always tell myself that I should remain patient and persevere on in teaching him just like how I would teach my other students. If he has had a seizure this will result in him being tired, therefore he cannot concentrate much during lessons.
Using the knowledge that I gained from my Bachelor studies in Psychology, we are always reminded that we should not see the person as the problem but we should work with them to overcome the problem. Therefore, it is important for me as an educational therapist to help him in figuring out the coping strategies that he could adopt to overcome the effects of AEDs medications so that they do not affect his studies.
For instance, instead of writing the examples of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs on a piece of paper, I have decided to plan my writing around the superheroes theme as my student loves superheroes. I showed a video of a specific superhero, for instance, Spiderman, and verbally discuss with him the examples of nouns and verbs that he could think of based on the video. Since he has difficulties gripping the pencil properly, I have decided to write out his ideas down for him. Based on these verbs and nouns, he would then think of the appropriate adjectives and adverbs that he could use to describe the nouns and verbs respectively. He would then be guided in writing a sentence either by sequencing of words or graphic organisers.
Spelling and reading involved reward system that is for every word read or spelt correctly, he would be given a chop or sticker. Single words are encouraged instead of phrases as he needs a lot of time to even grasp a new concept and recall previously learned concepts. These single words are usually not multisyllabic to encourage him to do blending or fingerspell on his own. This is also to help him boost his confidence level.
Finally, question 4 allows me to prepare myself in the event that any seizure happens in my class. It is crucial that I work hand in hand with parents to monitor their child’s progress not only academically but also to see whether there is any improvement in his health condition which they could update his school teacher and doctor on.
Despite all these being discussed, what is more, important is educators should always keep themselves calm and composed while dealing with students with epilepsy so that they are able to help these students learn and grow in a non-judgmental environment.
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This article was published in FACETS Vol 1 2018