As I sit here watching an episode of “Different Strokes”, I am gaining more insight of other things that can cause issues in someone’s life with Epilepsy. In this episode the kids make friends with a street performer and she has a seizure in front of them one day. Of course, it scared them, and they no longer wanted to be her friend. The youngest child, Sam, thought her condition was contagious and ” creepy”, while Arnold was afraid but still made fun of what he observed. The old saying holds true that what people don’t understand they make fun of it or ostracize those that are dealing with it.
The character with Epilepsy was once a school teacher and had a seizure in front of her class one day. The employers suggested she shouldn’t return to her position because she scared the kids, and so she quit. She said she applied for other places to work in her field, but once they learned of her condition she never received a call back. This left me wondering two things; 1) why not let her speak to the kids about it, and explain 2) does this still happen often today? I have seen people have seizures before I became a nurse, and of course I am around people that experience this now. But I have never thought it was contagious or creepy, I can say I was afraid for the person having the seizure. As a child seeing someone go into convulsions I can understand the fear, but I do not understand why the adults in their lives would not help to comfort them by educating them the best way the could.
I understand that everyone raises their child differently, but I cannot imagine not trying to comfort my babies after seeing something that could be terrifying to them. The stigma placed on those with Epilepsy are unfounded and ignorant. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Medications help decrease the episodes for some, but is not always better for others.
In today’s world the woman in this show would’ve had a lawsuit against that school to defend her right to teach the children at that school. We have to be more diligent in educating our communities about conditions like Epilepsy and many others. If that should include reaching out to our schools then so be it. But it’s time for those that know better to do better and help stop the ridiculing. If we truly look at it this is a form of bullying. You cannot use the excuse of being unaware of someone’s condition, or the problems that come with it, as a way to belittle or single them out. We as human being simply have to start speaking out and speaking up more.