Challenge of the Year: 2018

Challenge of the Year is an initiative through which the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan selects a significant epilepsy-related problem to work on each year. Through a variety of efforts (including education, public policy advocacy, and public awareness campaigns), we will strive to make a noticeable impact on this problem in Michigan over the course of the year. Check this webpage often to learn more about the issue, what we've been doing to address it, and how you can get involved!

2018 Challenge of the Year: Life Transitions and Independence


Life involves many transitions, each of which can involve different challenges. The presence of epilepsy and other disabilities can add to or magnify these challenges. The following are some illustrative examples of transitions experienced by people with epilepsy:

  • a three-year-old boy with frequent seizures and intellectual disability is about to start attending preschool, and the parents don't know how to get him the academic and medical services he needs 
  • a five-year-old girl whose seizures are mostly controlled is about to start kindergarten, but the school is unfamiliar with what to do in the event of a seizure
  • a teen with epilepsy is about to start applying for colleges, but the parents are worried about how she'll be able to handle the academic challenges, avoid seizure triggers, and get appropriate care if she has a seizure
  • a young adult with epilepsy is still receiving services through the school system and working with a vocational rehab counselor to find a career path that matches his strengths and can accommodate occasional seizures and mild memory problems
  • a 38-year old man with poorly controlled seizures lives at home with his parents, receives Social Security Disability benefits, and does some seasonal work with his uncle when he can; he wants to get his own place, but his parents are concerned that it wouldn't be safe and that he'd have a hard time paying his bills and managing his affairs
  • a 76-year old woman with epilepsy and dementia lives with her adult daughter, who's finding it hard to provide her with the support she needs but doesn't want to put her in a nursing home

Each of these scenarios can have a positive outcome that increases or maintains independence. With appropriate planning, the likelihood of success increases. Throughout the planning process, people with epilepsy, family members, and the professionals who support them (e.g. educators, health professionals, case managers, etc.) need to consider several important things, including the following:

  • Safety - What can be done to reduce seizure-related risks?
  • Epilepsy self-management - What knowledge and skills does the person with epilepsy have and what do they need to develop to effectively manage epilepsy?
  • Healthcare - How can the person with epilepsy find and pay for age-appropriate epilepsy care?
  • Financial planning - How will costs of living be paid for in the short-term and the long-term?
  • Education - What supports, if any, are needed to maximize learning opportunities and academic growth? 
  • Employment - What types of education, training, and accommodations are needed to find and maintain gainful employment? If employment is not feasible, how can the person with epilepsy be productive and contribute to the community?
  • Social support - What is the person with epilepsy's current social support network? What skills and opportunities are needed to strengthen and expand this support network?
  • Life skills - What knowledge and skills does the person with epilepsy have and what do they need to develop to effectively manage daily living (e.g. cooking, paying bills, planning and organization, etc.)? What services and supports may be needed to help manage day-to-day life?
  • Self-determination - What are the strengths, interests, goals, and dreams of the person with epilepsy? What can be done to maximize this individual’s role in decision-making?

While some resources exist to help people plan for transitions and maximize their independence, they are often inconsistent and scattered across multiple, complex health and human service systems. Additionally, these resources are rarely designed to meet the unique needs of people with epilepsy. Identifying and securing necessary supports continues to be a challenge for many. Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan will address these issues in 2018 through our Challenge of the Year efforts. 

If you have questions about life transitions and independence, please call us at 800-377-6226.

We also encourage you to take a look at the findings from our Life Transitions and Independence Survey:

Learn More Through These 2018 Programs and Events 

Additional Resources