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Law Aims to Give Students With Epilepsy Better Care In Illinois’ Schools

Epilepsy Awareness Facebook Page
Epilepsy Awareness

The Seizure Smart School Act, is a new law in Illinois that requires schools to train employees and care aides on how to handle students with epilepsy, and how to administer their medications.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the country.

State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) said all schools should be equipped to help students in epilepsy-related situations.

“There are a handful of those kids that do have epilepsy,” Morrison said. “I think it's absolutely imperative that schools be prepared and capable of helping a child should they have a seizure on the school property, and need assistance.”

Credit Epilepsy Awareness Facebook Page / Epilepsy Awareness
Epilepsy Awareness

There will be a designated care aide at schools in which at least one student with epilepsy is enrolled, and training must be provided by a licensed health care provider with an expertise in epilepsy.

Morrison said schools are not required to hire a designated care aide, but could select a person already in the building.

“It could be a counselor, it could be a teacher, it would just be someone who is willing to take those additional steps to receive medical training that would give them the ability to help that child during a seizure,” Morrison said.

The plan also requires a student’s parent or guardian to share the health care provider’s instructions on managing the student’s epilepsy, and include a copy of any prescriptions and how and when to administer those medicines. Schools are not required to provide medication and equipment for students.

Data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention show that in 2019 18,600 people in Illinois 17 years old and younger suffer from epilepsy.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Olivia Mitchell is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.