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13/01/2016

Teenager gains better seizure control in new school

A teenager from Illinois, USA, found that he hasn't had a single seizure since moving to a smaller school which he finds less stressful.

Wesley Jones, 15, is a happy-go-lucky teenager, cracking jokes with his friends at school.  You wouldn't know looking at him, but he's been living with epilepsy and seizures since he was five years old.

Wesley used to get seizures at his former, larger and busier school sometimes multiple times a week.  He says the atmosphere triggered his seizures.

"It had to be probably just stress.  The hallways were packed.  Being around a lot of people set me off with a seizure," Wesley explained.

Wesley worked with teachers and professionals but still his epilepsy affected his school work, and having seizures in school was embarrassing for him.  He and his mother, Anita, knew he needed a change of scenery.

"I had heard about LYDIA Academy, a small, alternative, Christian school," Anita said.

Wesley transferred to LYDIA Urban Academy in August.  It's a non-traditional private school in downtown Rockford, where he's one of just 19 students.  Remarkably, ever since he changed school, Wesley has not had a single seizure in school.

LYDIA Urban Academy Director Chad Carty said he felt the change was down to the school's environment:  "He feels comfortable here.  It comes back to those relationships, sometimes he'll come into my office and we'll just chat about things."

Mr Carty said not only is Wesley performing better in the classroom, but he has seen huge changes in Wesley's personality.  His mother has noticed the difference, too, attributing her son's improvement to the school's small class sizes and religious mission.

"He's doing good.  He enjoys going to school.  He's a typical teenager, but there's that spark," she said.

Now, Wesley can look forward to a bright future.  He wants to graduate, maybe own a restaurant and start a family.  

No matter what happens, he knows this for sure: "I want to be a good person and start a life."

Wesley is due to begin a work-study programme at LYDIA, where he will work at Epilepsy Foundation, which school leaders say will be a perfect fit for him.