Before I jump into the 5 reasons why homeschooling is better than public school for my epileptic son, I think you need a little back story.
We always knew we would homeschool, but nothing prepared us for the journey that having a child with epilepsy would take us. My son had his first seizure at birth; no one could tell us why. They decided that it was due to low sodium levels.
So, after 3 days in the NICU, we headed home with our loving rainbow baby.
Let’s fast forward to 11.5 months, just one week away from our son’s first birthday. I was awakened to a feeling that something wasn’t right. I look over at my baby boy and see that he is having a seizure right before my eyes.
We panicked and called 911.
We rushed to the hospital. Again, we weren’t given any answers but a referral to go see a pediatric neurologist a few days later.
Once home, making breakfast, I turned around, and I saw him seizing again in his highchair. We called 911, and they immediately rushed him to the hospital, where he was admitted.
We finally got answers after a battery of tests. We found out that our loving little guy at some point had a stroke in utero. Now we had a diagnosis, and I was on seizure watch for the next 5 years. My sweet little boy is now taking the anticonvulsant Keppra.
Keppra is a medication to help limit seizures. He was on a low dose, but he had 2 more seizures after being on the medication, and they upped his dose.
After a brief run-in with a prestigious Moms Day out program when he was three, I was starting to feel like my child was going to have some issues. The little boy I dropped off for two hours was not the same child I picked up. He was quiet and distant; he wouldn’t tell us about his day, and he just wanted to go home.
When I inquired about his day, I was informed that my child was disobedient, non-compliant, and disruptive. Then I got the, “Well, you know, kids who are on anticonvulsants have behavioral and learning issues.”
All I wanted was a place for him to socialize with other kids. That’s when I 100% knew he would never go to public school or go back to this place for a second day.
Why Public School Doesn’t Fit for Us
Shortage of Medical Personnel
The shortage of medical personnel on staff in public schools to administer his Diastat if he seizes for longer than 2 minutes is a problem. My son has had to use his rescue once since his diagnosis, and I was the one to give it to him. I couldn’t trust that someone would take the time and read his seizure rescue plan.
Keppra is a strong medication, and some of the side effects can be depression, mood changes, and memory issues. My son had some memory issues in 1st grade; it was like he totally forgot the math skills I knew he had mastered. We had spent a good amount of time reteaching concepts and going at a slower pace.
I know schools may not be able to handle these sudden memory lapses.
My son was very moody and depressed, and he would have Keppra rage days where all I could do was hold him to keep him from hurting himself. Then he would have days where he would just cry and tell us he was so sad and didn’t know why.
The school system wouldn’t be able to handle this, and he would get labeled.
My son needs 1:1 teaching. A group setting will not work for him because he needs uninterrupted learning, or he will lose it. I know public schools wouldn’t be able to handle this.
We noticed early on that regardless of the memory issues, mood swings, and depression, that he was gifted in grammar, science, and history. Finding out this gift meant we had to keep him challenged. As he began to wean off his medication by second grade, we started to see a new person that had been hiding behind the Keppra.
Every so often, we see some memory issues, but they don’t last long because I have learned how to help him and keep reinforcing skills and concepts. He has no learning disabilities or behavioral issues. Homeschooling allowed him to learn how and when he wanted without labels and judgments.
Homeschooling for us is a better choice than public school, even though I know there are many kids with epilepsy who attend public schools. I know that for my son, it just wouldn’t work for him and his needs. I like being able to carefully monitor his progress, and I can zero in when I see issues.
Now that he is 10 and in seventh grade, he is moving along in his academics at his own pace and doing great! He occasionally gives talks to local homeschool groups about his journey with epilepsy as well.