Winthrop University: Teaching Students with Seizure Disorders

Office of Accessibility

Teaching Students with Seizure Disorders

Seizure disorders are actually a common neurological problem, although the various types of seizure disorders make establishing a universal definition difficult. Generally, a seizure may be defined as an episode of abnormal motor, sensory, autonomic, or psychic activity caused by excessive electrical discharges from nerve cells in the brain. Seizures can vary in duration and aftereffects, and can have a significant effect on many aspects of daily living. One result of a seizure, severe headaches, sometimes accompanied by memory deficits and clouded thinking, may cause a student to miss class or have difficulty completing an assignment.

A student who informs you of a seizure disorder and who requests classroom accommodations should provide you with formal notification from the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

What Might Happen When a Seizure Occurs?

A student who experiences seizures may be able to tell when a seizure is about to occur. When this happens, the student should lie down in a safe place away from furniture. The student should tell someone that he or she is about to have a seizure and someone should stay with the student. The student may experience some or all of the following:

  • A brief black-out period of confused behavior or staring
  • A change in skin appearance (flushed, pale, or blue)
  • A loss of bowel or bladder control
  • A loss of consciousness
  • A sudden limpness causing a fall
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooling or bleeding (from biting the tongue) from the mouth
  • Eyes rolling back
  • Twitching or jerking of part or all of the body (can be minor twitching or major movement)
  • Vomiting

What To Do If a Student Has a Seizure in Your Class?

Call 911. If you are not sure whether an ambulance is needed, still call 911. Tell the 911 Dispatcher that a student with a seizure disorder is having a seizure in your classroom at Winthrop University. Tell the 911 Dispatcher your building and classroom location (e.g. Kinard, first floor, room 115). Then contact Campus Police at 803/323-3333. Explain the situation and tell the Campus Dispatcher that you have called for an ambulance.

In the classroom, do the following to assist the student:

  • Roll the student on his or her side to prevent choking
  • Place something soft under the student's head
  • Do NOT try to hold the student down or stop the student's movement
  • Clear the area of anything that might get in the way, like furniture, to help prevent injuries
  • Loosen any tight fitting clothing
  • Observe how long the seizure lasts
  • Observe how the student acts after the seizure (weak, confused, etc.)
  • Stay with the student until help arrives or the seizure stops and the student returns to normal. Following a seizure, the student may be drowsy or confused.

For questions about seizure disorders or accommodations, please contact the Office of Accessibility at 803/323-3290.

Last Updated: 3/10/20