Seizure Action Plans And Special Education
Preparedness and Peace of Mind for Your Child’s Education
Federal and state law guarantee a child with a disability the right to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that includes an individualized education plan(IEP) tailored to the child’s unique needs and reasonably calculated to enable the child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, 580 U.S. at ∗14-15 (Mar. 22, 2017, No. 15-827). Children who suffer from seizures require an individualized approach to address these unique needs, allowing safe and effective access to their education. This article explores the creation and implementation of seizure action plans, an important tool to navigating the threat of seizures in an educational setting.
What is a seizure action plan?
A seizure action plan is a document that provides important information about your child’s seizure-related needs to educators and school staff. It should be developed collaboratively between parents, pediatricians, and neurologists, providing a variety of detailed information regarding your child’s needs, including:
- Contact Information
- Treating physician
- Significant medical history
- Seizure information (length, type, frequency, description)
- Seizure triggers or “warning signs”
- Your child’s reaction to the seizures
- A description of basic first-aid procedures
- A description of emergency response, including what constitutes a “seizure emergency” for your child
- Treatment protocol, including details for daily and emergency medications, as well as side-effects
- Special considerations and other safety precautions
This plan should be signed by both the child’s parents and physician. It is a document that relies on accuracy, detail, and clarity that should be revisited regularly and revised accordingly, as your child’s seizure-related needs change.
Who should have a copy of my child’s seizure action plan?
Proper distribution is just as important as accuracy, detail, and clarity for your child’s seizure action plan. Without proper distribution, even a well-tailored and otherwise-effective plan will not be helpful in addressing your child’s needs.
So, who at school should have a copy of your child’s seizure action plan? Every educator or staff member who interacts with your child, especially those who have the most frequent interaction. This includes classroom teachers, school nurses, and administrators. It also includes people who might otherwise be overlooked, such as teacher’s aides, coaches, and bus drivers. In short, there is no guarantee who will be present when the plan requires implementation, and all parties will benefit from this information. Parents and physicians should also keep a copy, as well as including it in the child’s school records and medical files.
How do I implement the plan?
A seizure action plan can be implemented into your child’s educational program in a variety of ways. If the seizure action plan is implemented into your child’s IEP, verify that the school district is aware of your child’s seizure-related needs prior to the IEP meeting. In addition, verify that a school nurse will be present at the IEP meeting to discuss your child’s health needs and proper implementation of the plan. The law requires that appropriate school medical personnel be included at IEP meetings under these circumstances, as they provide knowledge and special expertise to the rest of the IEP team. Remember: your school district has an affirmative duty to make sure such personnel are present and they can only be excused from such meetings with your prior written consent. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for school districts to fail to ensure that necessary members of the IEP team are present, thus requiring effective advocacy to secure a proper forum to discuss your child’s unique needs. A seizure action plan may also be implemented as part of a 504 plan, or independently.
Just as it “takes a village to raise a child,” similar collaboration is required for the creation and implementation of an effective seizure action plan. An effective plan requires communication with medical professionals such as a pediatrician and neurologist to ascertain your child’s unique needs and how they should specifically be addressed in the plan. In addition, communication and coordination with your district and school is crucial to ensure that all relevant parties have a copy of the plan, enabling them to understand the needs of your child and what action is required of them.
When created and implemented effectively, a seizure action plan provides preparedness and peace of mind to you and your child. A seizure action plan allows your child to attend school with the knowledge that those entrusted with his or her safety are informed and are capable of responding appropriately in the event of a seizure emergency. The same assurance also benefits parents, teachers, nurses, and administrators, making seizure action plans a cost-effective, highly valuable tool in ensuring your child’s safety.