Seizure Disorders

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Students with Seizure Disorders

What is a Seizure Disorder?

A seizure disorder is a central nervous system disorder (neurological disorder) in which the nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed. Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Seizure disorders are generally controlled by medication. Symptoms of a seizure can vary and may include:

  • temporary confusion
  • unresponsiveness and staring
  • strange smell, sound, feeling, taste or visual images
  • sudden tiredness or dizziness
  • stiffening of the body
  • breathing problems
  • uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • loss of consciousness

How will I know if a student in my class has a seizure disorder?

The CSD engages in an interactive process and meets with students on an individualized, case-by-case basis to determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations. In collaboration with the student, the CSD will generate an accommodation letter which the student will hand carry to the faculty member indicating the student has a documented seizure disorder as well as any approved accommodations.

What effects could a seizure disorder have on a student’s learning?

Seizure disorders impact everyone differently. Depending on the nature and severity of the disorder, side effects of a seizure may include fatigue, difficulty talking, memory and information processing problems. Anti-seizure medication may also cause side effects including drowsiness, inattention or restlessness.

What academic accommodations are appropriate for a student with a seizure disorder?

In general, accommodations for a student with a seizure disorder may include but are not limited to:

  • Extended time to complete exams (due to side effects of medications)
  • A reduced distraction environment to complete exams
  • Extended time to complete an assignment and/or exam in the event a student experiences a seizure during the semester
  • Notetaking assistance
  • Reduced courseload with full time status

What do I do if a student has a seizure during class?

Faculty are always encouraged to call 911 in the event a student has a seizure in class. The Center for Students with Disabilities communicates with the UConn Department of Public Safety regarding students with seizure disorders. Emergency medical personnel are trained to respond and can determine whether or not the student requires transport to a medical facility.

After calling 911:

  • Keep calm, let the seizure take its course and do not try to stop it.
  • If possible, put something soft under the student’s head.
  • Instruct the other students to move to the hallway.
  • Protect the student from further injury if possible – move away any desks, chairs or other objects
  • Do not force anything in the student’s mouth – this may cause injuries including chipped teeth or a fractured jaw.
  • Roll the student on his/her side as soon as possible – this allows for saliva or other fluids to drain away helping to keep the airway clear.
  • Try and monitor what the student is doing so that you can describe the seizure to the emergency medical personnel. This may include:
    • What kind of body movement occurred?
    • How long did the seizure last?
    • Are there any injuries from the seizure?

Please feel free to contact Jennifer Lucia, Associate Director, at (860) 486-2020 or via e-mail at Jennifer.lucia@uconn.edu with any additional questions.

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