Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mum's the Word: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mum's the Word: Resources

Article excerpt

Seven-year-old Layla's quick thinking averted a road accident - and her book about her mother's epilepsy could save more lives.

When Layla Reid wrote her Epilepsy Book for Kids, she intended it to be a guide to help other young children cope with having an epileptic parent.

But the simple pocket book - which Layla (pictured) wrote when she was 7, in her own handwriting and with her own illustrations - is increasingly being used in schools to help children understand the condition.

Now Layla, from Bristol in the South West of England, has become something of a celebrity. She appears in a film, Four Chambers (available on YouTube), which paints her as a truly inspirational person, and she was a runner-up in the UK Young Epilepsy Champions Awards this year.

Recently, she put her knowledge to good use. She saved her mother Sarah and baby sister Lauren from being hit by a car when her mother suffered an absence seizure - which leaves the person confused and apparently daydreaming - while crossing the road in traffic.

Layla was inspired to write the book after her mother tried, and failed, to find a child-friendly book that explained epilepsy in simple terms. And the self-confessed bookworm wrote it in only one evening.

The book introduces the Reid family, and goes on to cover what to do when a person has an epileptic seizure - either a fit or an absence seizure - and how to call an adult or emergency services. "I'm so proud of her," Sarah Reid says of her talented daughter. "I never thought in a million years it would be published. She's a clever girl."

Layla, who recently gave a children's workshop at her local library, wants to write more books to help children understand other health conditions. "My mummy also has allergies and sometimes depression, so I would like to write guides about this," she says. "My grandad has diabetes, and I have been asking him about his condition and how it affects his life so I can write about this, too.

"I love writing stories and I don't always just want to write about health. I like making up adventure stories for my baby sister.

"But when I grow up I want to be a teacher. It's a job where you get to do reading and writing and that's what I want to do."

For more information about Epilepsy Book for Kids, visit www.pomegranatebooks.co.uk/epilepsy.html

Class questions

What is epilepsy? What effect does it have on sufferers?

Are there things that people with epilepsy cannot do (for example, drive a car)?

Would you be able to help if one of your classmates had an epileptic fit? What would you do?

How can you help if your mother, father, brother or sister has epilepsy?

PERSONAL, SOCIAL AND HEALTH EDUCATION

Care and responsibility

Children who care for their siblings or parents often miss out on key aspects of childhood as they take on responsibility far beyond their years.

Almost 10,000 five- to seven-year-olds are now carers for their relatives, an increase of about 80 per cent in a decade, according to statistics released in May from the 2011 Census for England and Wales.

But how can you help other young children to understand the ways in which the lives of child carers differ from their own? And how can you best support students in your class who care for others?

The Children's Society has in the past called not only for support for these children but also for measures to be put in place so that they do not have to care for relatives. Being a carer is different from living in a family where a sibling or parent has mental or physical needs that have to be taken into account. …

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