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Kids with epilepsy head back to school


To parents of children with epilepsy, heading back to school can feel like heading into a hurricane. But it can help to know there are resources available to you and your family. Included are websites on how to talk to school about epilepsy and information on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

It is important for all parents of children with epilepsy to know that IDEA exists for your protection. Below is a summary which is available at the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.


The process of finding a child eligible for early intervention or special education and related services under IDEA begins with a comprehensive and individual evaluation of the child in order to:

  • establish that the child does, indeed, have a disability;
  • get a detailed picture of how the disability affects the child functionally, developmentally, and academically; and
  • document the child’s special needs related to the disability.

This evaluation is provided free of charge through either the early intervention system (for infants and toddlers under the age of 3) or through the local school system (for children ages 3-21). Under IDEA, children with epilepsy are usually found eligible for services under the category of “Other Health Impairment” (OHI). 

We’ve included IDEA’s definition of OHI below: 

IDEA’s Definition of “Other Health Impairment”
The nation’s special education law specifically mentions epilepsy in its definition of “Other Health Impairment,” a category under which children may be found eligible for special education and related services. Here’s IDEA’s definition.
(9) Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that—
(i) Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and
(ii) Adversely affects a child’s educational performance.  [34 CFR §300.8(c)(9)]

State Resources
NICHY also offers a state by state resource tool. Visit the Search by State tool to find resources specific to your area.

For more information
Visit the Back to School 2011 and Back to School 2010 stories for other great websites that will help you get started with a new school year. Also be sure to check out the Epilepsy Foundation’s page on legal rights of person’s with epilepsy.

And don’t forget to let us know your thoughts!

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