Coping with people at school who don’t understand narcolepsy is just one example of the stigma facing students living with the condition. Teachers who know how to respond to EDS and cataplexy can improve school morale and safety standards, and influence how fellow students and school staff respond to students with narcolepsy.
Unfortunately, many people think narcolepsy is a mental illness or a kind of epilepsy. Though neither is accurate, the reaction that children with narcolepsy often receive can profoundly shape their self-esteem, sometimes for life.
As an educator, it’s incumbent on you to challenge these misunderstandings and prejudices when you encounter them. Explain that students with narcolepsy are no less capable than other kids.
You may encounter people who call these students “narcoleptics.” Explain that the term isn’t used anymore: A child/teen with narcolepsy isn’t defined by the condition. The preferred term is “a student living with narcolepsy.”
Share your understanding of the condition with everyone in your school with the goal of helping students living with narcolepsy feel less anxious.
Teachers who respond to narcolepsy with calm and support will influence others to do the same. Teachers who understand and encourage students with narcolepsy inspire learning, maturity, and self-confidence.