Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated seizures. These usually begin in childhood, however they can start at any age. Epilepsy is more common in people with a learning disability than in the general population. Around 22% of people with a learning disability will also have epilepsy. The more severe the learning disability, the more likely it is that they will have epilepsy.
Epileptic seizures can take many different forms, and they affect awareness, movement or behaviour. For example, complex focal (partial) seizures can include symptoms such as repetitive movements without purpose like fiddling with clothing and lip smacking. Confusion additionally is also seen in seizures, and many people have periods of confusion following seizures.
Because having a difficulty communicating or sometimes appearing confused, can be part of a learning disability, it can sometimes be hard to tell if a person with a learning disability is having a seizure.
How we support people with this diagnosis:
Many of our professionals have a specialist interest in epilepsy and are experts in how to treat this condition in someone with a learning disability. They also treat the symptoms that come before, during and after a seizure, to ensure service users are supported during what can be a very disorientating and confusing experience.