Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review

Diagnosis of autism

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 28 August 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:488

How does an elementary school teacher deal with student with autism and epilepsy?

Statistics have proved that many with autism also suffer from epilepsy, which is abnormal formation of synapses. However, there is no effective treatment for this problem. We can only relieve the symptom by medication.

In Taiwan, many parents don't want their children to go to special needs school for fear that their children would be labeled as abnormal children. They will send their children to normal elementary schools to receive education. It may cause lots of problems if the teachers or classmates are not willing to help them, or don't know how to do. Therefore, the following is a method created by an elementary school teacher who succeeded in dealing with this problem.

1. Former preparation
Many other students may not have the experience to get along with people with autism and epilepsy, so it is really significant to have the whole class to learn about the situation of this "unique" person. Doctors or special education teachers should be in the class to clarify the situation of autism and epilepsy to other students, making sure that everyone is prepared to face the problem that may happen.

2. The steps to take when epilepsy occurs
First, tell the other students that epilepsy has occurred and let everyone stay quietly, and look at the clock for five minutes instead of staring at the patient.
Meanwhile, the teacher walks to the patient and lets him lie on the side, then put the coat on him for fear that he would get cold if incontinence happened?
Then, one of the assigned students should call the health center, another one should call the patient’s mother.
While waiting, the teacher should stay quietly besides the patient and use tissues to clear the patient’s mouth. Hold him lightly if twitch happens. After the twitch, call his name lightly to make sure he is still awake.
When the health center’s teacher comes, tell the condition and onset time to her and decide whether to go to hospital or not.

3. After the emergency, it is really important to praise other students that they did a good job. This may spur children into being willing to help others later.
Epileptic fits are not lethal if appropriate steps are undertaken. However, many people don’t know how simple it is to help a person with epilepsy and autism. If we have the opportunity to teach elementary school students to face this problem, it might encourage them to willingly help others.

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 April 2015
Ting-Wei Chang
Taipei Medical University
No.250, Wuxing St., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110, Taiwan (R.O.C.)