Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Children with epilepsy may overcome learning difficulties

Although this disease causes alterations to sensorial processes, with appropriate activities and continued treatment, children can follow instructions and acquire new knowledge.

Bogotá D. C., 27 de julio de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

Children with epilepsy should receive a different learning method.

Through activities that motivate them, children can progress in achieving knowledge.

Daniela Ramírez Bayona, M.Sc. in Neurosciences.

Children between 7 and 10 years of age were assessed.

Alterations caused by epilepsy affect school performance.

As demonstrated by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) M.Sc. in Neurosciences Daniela Ramírez, who analyzed sensorial processing in children with epilepsy between 7 and 10 years of age. 

Ramírez assessed 88 children, 18 with uncontrolled epilepsy, 16 with controlled epilepsy and 54 controls (children without this disease). She discovered that most have difficulties in areas such as reading, writing mathematics and activities which imply movement and coordination. 

According to Ramírez, children with epilepsy can have modulation and discrimination alterations, in other words in basic processes on how they receive and process environmental stimuli at the tactile, olfactory, gustatory, visual, proprioceptive (movement perception in articulations and the body) and vestibular (equilibrium and spatial control) level. 

“Children have issues in motor planning, language, coordination and sensation modulation. For some there are stimuli that are very aggressive, others that they do not even feel, so they can be divided into very jittery or excessively passive,” she added. 

In the cognitive test applied, children received 5 instructions to perform certain activities, such as raise their hand or move some part of the body. 

According to this they could see the potential of the acquired learning. If they took longer or needed slower instructions to carry out the task, their difficulty was deemed are high; if on the contrary they required few instructions and responded in less time they were deemed as low. 

With respect to controlled epilepsy cases, they only needed to repeat the instruction once as opposed to children with uncontrolled epilepsy which needed three keys to initiate the activity. 

Although they demonstrated that the sensorial alterations caused by the disease have an impact on learning, they also showed that that they can implement strategies for children to learn and improve their academic level in school. 

The cognitive test was carried out twice and children performed better in the second attempt, inclusively increasing their score by up to 6 points. Furthermore when they assessed short term memory they all repeated the instruction perfectly. 

“Children can learn if they work on overcoming difficulties. This besides improving their quality of life would diminish school stigmatization and teachers should have strategies to teach them differently,” said Ramirez. 

For this, teachers should take into account each child with epilepsy profile, propose particular teaching methods and ensure success of the learning process. 

Among the alternative they recommend a combination of dynamic and passive activities that expedite understanding of the processes and also activities that motivate and are interesting for them. 

For very passive children, the idea is use classrooms with colorful and flashy signs and with different textures. Furthermore perform tasks in mazes showing the paths with different colors; vary the place where the child sits in the classroom and ask him/she several times where they are. 

“This task rescues the importance of understanding that children with epilepsy can learn because they are generally discriminated against and have issues. I have had epilepsy since my childhood and as a young girl I had issues learning math. Some physicians sad I could not run or jump but with adequate care it is possible,” she said. 

(Por: Fin/VC/DMH/APBL
)
N.° 170

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