Work and College
Part-time work can be rewarding for teens who have epilepsy. In addition to the financial rewards, work can provide discipline, skills, education, and a sense of accomplishment and success. A part-time job is often an important step toward independence. A part-time job also can be a way of getting some exposure to a career that the young person may be interested in pursuing, and it may even provide an opportunity for future full-time work.
Teens can work before or after school, or during the summer. When working during the school year, the student must balance the demands of school and job. A job also should not interfere with a healthy personal life. Students who work too many hours often sacrifice sleep while trying to keep up with both schoolwork and a social life. Loss of sleep or the stress of overwork can increase the frequency of seizures, so it is important to limit the number of hours worked at a part-time job.
Thinking About a Career
Most people do not decide on their future career while in high school. Nevertheless, it is often helpful for teens with epilepsy to give some thought to the type of career they would like to pursue. Certain classes in high school or college can be aimed toward gaining knowledge and skills related to an area of interest. Guidance counselors and vocational counselors often are available in high school to discuss career plans.
People with well-controlled or infrequent seizures should have few or no limitations on possible careers, but those with uncontrolled seizures may face some career limitations. Teens should ask the doctor about their outlook for seizure control. With new medications and advances in epilepsy surgery, it is likely that many people with uncontrolled seizures will become seizure-free in the future.
Teens with both epilepsy and developmental disabilities such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, or blindness have never had greater opportunities for employment. Their success in obtaining gratifying employment depends on support from family, school, and medical services. Planning is critical. Teens and their families should work with educational, social, and medical resources to develop realistic plans for employment and independence. Vocational planning should focus on the teen's ability to learn and master specific technical skills as well as appropriate social behavior. In many cases, attention to specific training may be less important than issues of self-esteem and personal skills for interacting in a work environment. Realistic but progressive and positive expectations underlie a successful plan.
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