Usually on November 1st, many are saying goodbye October, Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is coming up and fall weather is slowly turning towards colder days. However, About one percent of Americans have some form of epilepsy, and nearly four percent (1 in 26) will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives. Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Epilepsy has touched my life since I was young, my grandfather had Epilepsy and my wife has had it since she was six and I have many friends who deal with it on a regular basis. Every year, 1 in 150 people who have uncontrolled seizures dies from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, known as SUDEP. When people with epilepsy and their caregivers are empowered with information to understand SUDEP, they can take action to reduce risk of harm.
Since entering into education seven years ago, I have made it my effort to bring awareness to Epilepsy not only during the month of November, but throughout the year in many lessons and projects. This year, I wanted to try something different, and as many have seen, I have been creating STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art & mathematics) covers based off the many books from the Burgess Publishing Company. The origin of the project is something I’m doing with my STEAM classes during 3rd quarter. Where, they will create a presentation based off things that stick out in their readings. The first I’m using is Quinn Rollins’s Play like a Pirate, recently, Quinn talked about on his website about the Funko Pop as a History Lesson. One of the features is about creating a Funko Pop on Edgar Allan Poe. What many don’t know is that Edgar had Epilepsy.
Poe lived through and wrote descriptions of episodic unconsciousness, confusion, and paranoia. These symptoms have been attributed to alcohol or drug abuse but also could represent complex partial seizures, prolonged postictal states, or postictal psychosis. Complex partial seizures were not well described in Poe’s time, which could explain a misdiagnosis. Alternatively, he may have suffered from complex partial epilepsy that was complicated or caused by substance abuse. Even today, persons who have epilepsy are mistaken for substance abusers and occasionally are arrested during postictal confusional states. Poe was able to use creative genius and experiences from illness to create memorable tales and poignant poems. (Resource) Using the Play like a Pirate project, students can create their Pops from famous authors and figures who had Epilepsy such as: Agatha Christie, Van Gough and even Julius Caesar. While Epilepsy is what they had, it wasn’t who they were and they accomplished many achievements despite having Epilepsy. You can organize this idea into classic paper and pencil and art or create a: HyperDoc, PowerPoint, or even dress up as the person and give a history of the character and what Epilepsy is.
I will be making up to three posts a week on how you can raise awareness about Epilepsy in your classroom and school and how it can impact your students learning. If there are any questions, please contact me and I will talk to everyone soon.