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everything a child needs to know about epilepsy

This book is written for primary school-age children to help them to understand more about epilepsy, treatment and lifestyle changes. It has been produced with input from children, including those with epilepsy and their parents. The author is a consultant Paediatrician. 

The book starts well with its bright front cover and bold title inviting young readers to find out more. It tells the story of Fred and Emma, two children who have both started to have seizures. Fred is eight and has tonic clonic seizures. Emma is six and has complex epilepsy, as well as learning difficulties and behavioural problems.

The book follows their journey from their first seizure, through a variety of tests, through to their diagnosis. Along the way you meet some aptly named characters including: Dr Wright the GP, Dr Best the Consultant, Dr Brain a paediatrician specialising in epilepsy, and Dr Fitz who explains what seizures are and the difference types. You then meet Dr Smart who explains about all the different tests used to diagnose epilepsy and Dr Pill who explains about anti-epileptic drugs. Mrs Bright, the epilepsy specialist nurse, helpfully explains first aid for seizures, activities you would need to be careful with, photosensitive epilepsy and how epilepsy can affect children at school.     

The book cleverly uses pictures, speech bubbles and coloured boxes to highlight and help explain some of the technical bits to a younger reader. Although the book is actually very detailed for a children’s book, I felt the clear layout and well written sections meant that the content was explained very well and would hopefully mean readers could understand the condition and how it can affect them.

At the back of the book you can find word searches and quizzes that encourage children to re-read the book if they don’t get top marks. This is perhaps something adults would benefit from - how many times have you read a book and realised you have only absorbed half of the content! There is also a very clear section on ‘contacts and websites’ including all the epilepsy organisations in the UK, as well as a reading list.

I felt it was great that the book had highlighted how individual the condition was by using two very different examples in Fred and Emma. It showed how differently children may get diagnosed, treated and respond to anti-epileptic drugs. It was also good at highlighting that although some children, like Fred, grow out of their epilepsy, others with harder to treat epilepsy, like Emma, may well have seizures for many years. The book also had helpful advice and tips on how to manage behaviour and looked at the wider context, for example Emma’s learning difficulties.

As a parent or carer, you may need to help younger readers and possibly read the book in stages. Older children may read it quite easily by themselves, but may ask you to clarify some of the scientific information.

Overall this is a very detailed book which covers a lot of areas from diagnostic tests to receiving a diagnosis of epilepsy, and what that diagnosis could mean for a child and their family. If you have children who you feel would benefit from knowing all about the condition, then I would highly recommend this book.

Review by: Jo Rowsell- Epilepsy Society Information Services