Canning Vale College student’s epilepsy battle helps raise awareness


Rhona, Alyssa and Clay Bolger with their dog Zappa.
Rhona, Alyssa and Clay Bolger with their dog Zappa.

TO the untrained eye, it looked like Alyssa Bolger was simply daydreaming. But the truth was far more serious.

In 2008, the Canning Vale College student, who is also autistic and has attention deficit disorder, was diagnosed with generalised and nocturnal epilepsy.

She suffers from focal seizures during the day, which appear as if she is daydreaming, and nocturnal seizures while she sleeps.

Her mother Rhona Bolger said a chance seizure suffered during a routine check up with a paediatrician alerted her to Alyssa’s problem.

“We didn’t realise she was having seizures, she was probably having seizures for a few years before we actually picked it up,” she said.

“We were at our standard paediatric review and thankfully, she had one at the office and the paediatrician picked it up. For a long time we thought she just went off into her own little dream world.”

Alyssa, who was the first ever autistic Telethon girl in 2015, still battles seizures despite medication, which her mother said have an enormous impact on her life.

“It affects her at school, imagine you’re listening to a teacher and you drop out for 30 seconds, you come back in and they’ve moved on, so there’s three or four instructions she’s missed and she’s basically playing catch up all the time,” she said.

“She’s not comfortable riding a bike because she might have a seizure, she can’t be in water by herself, one of us always has to be with her.

“Just recently, she was talking about whether she’ll be able to learn how to drive.”

Mrs Bolger said campaigns like E-Tea, where members of the public can host morning teas in November to fundraise for Epilepsy Action Australia, were important not just to raise funds, but also awareness of the condition.

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