It is estimated that 30,000 Australians living with intellectual disability also have epilepsy and as many as 1 in 4 are misdiagnosed, largely due to seizures not being recognised. Epilepsy is not only more common in people with intellectual disability than the rest of the population but seizures can be more difficult to control; often meaning more medications, more side effects and health and safety concerns.
It is easy for anyone to misinterpret seizure activity, particularly if seizures are subtle or mistaken for movements or mannerisms sometimes seen in people with intellectual and physical disabilities. When seizures are missed and remain undiagnosed, they cannot be treated which can significantly affect the quality of life for the person and their family and, in some instances, can lead to avoidable deaths.
Epilepsy Action Australia has taken a proactive approach to training disability support workers to better recognise and manage seizures for the people they support. This will have a direct impact on better diagnosis and treatment for people living with epilepsy and disability, and will have an immense impact on their quality of life.
It is important that disability support workers are familiar with common seizure types and how to recognise and manage them appropriately to lessen the disruption, risk and improve the well-being of the people they care for.
EAA has developed a nationally accredited course, Course in Epilepsy Management – Living with Epilepsy and Disability which is offered in conjunction with the Australian Red Cross College. Additionally, there are three concise courses on Observing & Recording Seizures, Minimising Risk and Living with Epilepsy & Disability. The courses on recording seizures and minimising risk are relevant to anybody with epilepsy, regardless of whether they have a disability. The courses cover some of the challenges faced, recognising types of seizures, improving quality of life and practical ways to reduce risks. All the courses are user friendly and have interactive and engaging activities, video demonstrations and animations.
These courses were made possible with the generous support of The Ian Potter Foundation, Gandel Philanthropy and John T Reid Trust.
Learn more about these and other courses on offer here.