An exploration of epilepsy and the possible challenges and supports which young adults encounter during their academic journey
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One out of three young people living with epilepsy expect their lives to be negatively impacted in the future and are specifically anxious about education, travelling, exploring and employment opportunities (Jacoby and Baker 2008). The aim of this study is create an awareness about epilepsy and to investigate the possible challenges faced by young adults with epilepsy, during their academic journey. AIMS: The objective of the study is to gain an insight into young people’s personal experience of initial diagnosis and the educational supports available. It will also explore the potential barriers faced by these young adults within their educational environment, whilst also examining their relevant coping strategies. METHOD: Thematic analysis was used to analyse semi-structured one-to-one interviews with ten participants. Each participant had daily experiences of epilepsy, as a ‘hidden’ disability and the interview questions focussed on the personal experiences and attitudes of participants in relation to their individual academic journeys. RESULTS: The main findings suggest that while there are some supports available in the educational system, there remains significant concerns about educating young adults with epilepsy in a mainstream setting. In particular, results suggested the fact that Ireland is the only country in the EU not to recognise the need for special educational or assessment facilities for people with epilepsy is a major barrier to greater educational attainment within an epilepsy population. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate that all Government bodies, educators, teacher unions and parents need to make significant changes to ensure more supports are available in educational environments for individuals with epilepsy.