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How Do Petit Mal Seizures Affect A Child Psychologically?

Other than the biological implications of absence seizures, depending on their frequency and severity, absence seizures can have a profound effect on children’s psyche. It is important for all those people involved in the child’s upbringing, especially parents and teachers, to understand that such seizures usually have far-reaching consequences, for which medicines may not suffice.

How is My Child’s Personality and Behavior Affected?

How we perceive ourselves is very important as it affects our personality and ability to excel in any discipline and also that of social interaction. And our physical being is of integral importance to the construction of our self- percepts. Some of the repercussions of petit mal seizures in children include:

  • A child who experiences seizures has a low self-esteem because he or she understands that his or her brain does not function like other people’s brains, and finds himself or herself less competent. His or her petit mal seizures may hamper good academic performance which can further weaken his self-percepts.
  • Petit mal seizures also make a child feel powerless over his own body.
  • The child may exhibit hyperactivity, aggression and attention-seeking behaviors as a part of grief associated with the medical condition.
  • He or she would feel anxious because of the unpredictability of seizures, added on with feelings of helplessness.

A Victim of Petit Mal Seziures

How is my Child’s Social Interaction Affected?

Children who experience petit mal seizures, or any kind of seizure, are deathly scared of having a seizure in public. They view the world as unpredictable and frightening, because such seizures usually have no apparent cause and endorse fear of the unknown. As petit mal seizures have no symptoms other than the display of the seizure itself, they are more likely to engage in denial of the ailment, leading to poor compliance with medication and they may resist changing lifestyles. They may also find it hard to seek other people sharing their problems as it is ‘hidden’. Sometimes, parents and teachers can overprotect the child, who becomes dependent and this creates a feeling of lack of self-worth. On the other hand, teachers or students not well-educated about the effects of petit mal seizures on one’s abilities can perceive the child as unmotivated and inattentive, which makes it even harder for the child. Some long-term effects include:

  • Poor grades
  • Restricted support network
  • Fewer friends
  • Lesser tendency to marry
  • Greater tendency to exhibit antisocial behavior
  • Teachers working with such children must have a clear understanding of the child’s suffering and should make arrangements for the child to compensate for his needs for repetition and reiteration if he forgets something told to him in a seizure episode, as well as exercises to aid learning. They can also educate his or her classmates about petit mal seizures, and make them understand that the child deserves to be treated no differently.
  • A buddy may be assigned to the child to help in building friendships.
  • Doctors can also arrange for a specialist community worker to help with the psychological and social needs of the child.
  • As parents, not only support but some independence and motivation should be afforded to the child, so that he or she can have a strong self-concept to succeed in life.

How Can I Help?

Final words on psychological effects of petit mal seizures

I hope this “How Do Petit Mal Seizures Affect A Child Psychologically?” article was helpful to you and you are motivated to help children suffering from absence seizures of any intensity to flourish in their personal and social lives, whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a social worker or a doctor.

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