The NHS defines Epilepsy as a common condition that affects the brain and causes frequent seizures. Seizures are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it works. They can cause a wide range of symptoms. Epilepsy can start at any age, but usually starts either in childhood or in people over 60. It’s often lifelong, but can sometimes get slowly better over time.

The UK facts and stats

The total number of children aged 4 years and under with epilepsy is approximately 1 in 509.

The number of children and young people aged 18 years and under with epilepsy is nearly 1 in 220.

The number of young people who are 25 years and under with epilepsy is around 112,000.

More than one in five people with epilepsy have learning or intellectual disabilities.

Epilepsy can be linked with learning, behavioural and speech and language difficulties. There are many different types of epilepsy that are associated with language difficulties. Some of the epilepsy syndromes which have associated language difficulties are:

– Landau Kleffner Syndrome,

– CSWS (Continuous Spike Waves of Slow Sleep),

– Lennox-Gastaut syndrome,

– Temporal Lobe epilepsy,

– Dravet syndrome.

There are a range of communication difficulties associated with epilepsy. For some people, communication difficulties can become more pronounced at times immediately before, during or after seizure activity. Communication difficulties may include:

– Comprehension difficulties: Children may find it hard to understand what others are saying to them or what is expected of them, and may struggle to understand environmental cues, daily routines or activity sequences.

– Attention and listening difficulties: Children may have difficulties in attending to spoken language, or to an activity.

– Expressive difficulties: It may be hard for children to communicate with others using speech, body language, facial expression and gesture. This may be because of episodes of slurred or dysfluent speech, language delay or disorder, or difficulties with social interaction.

Epilepsy may also be associated with pragmatic difficulties, where an individual may struggle with using language appropriately in social situations. Some children may have limited turn-taking skills, excessive or restricted topic maintenance, and/or difficulties in greeting, questioning, seeking the attention of others, describing or commenting.

This year during National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM), the Epilepsy Foundation is rolling out the ‘Let’s Use Our Brains to End Epilepsy’ campaign. The campaign focuses on the brain to change the conversation around seizures and rally everyone to End Epilepsy. The goal of the ‘Let’s Use Our Brains to End Epilepsy’ is to help the general public understand the connection between epilepsy and the brain. The hope is that the campaign will rewire the fight-or-flight reaction most people have when seeing someone have a seizure and replace it with empathy and action.

Get Involved here.

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