Social interaction is one of the most important needs in life. Social interaction is what we all need to achieve all our other rights, such as the right to have a family, the right to express your opinion and the right to education. Epilepsy is not a reason for people to be excluded in social gatherings. People with epilepsy can go for education, sports, religious meetings and all other sorts of social gatherings just like anyone else. The condition doesn’t take away one’s right to take part in these meetings. The right to community integration is even specifically protected in the International Bill of Rights.
Whose responsibility is it then to have people with epilepsy participating in all social gatherings? Is it the Government’s, the people who don’t have epilepsy, or is it the responsibility of the people with epilepsy? According to the constitution, all people have the right to be treated equally. Therefore, people with epilepsy need to take initiative to be socially active as much as anyone else and other people have a responsibility not to deny their attempts to take part in social events.
We mentioned earlier that, in some cases, people with epilepsy are encouraged to stay indoors, as the family may feel embarrassed about the condition. This is not accepted since every person has the right to freedom (Article 29 CoK). In cases where the family is not open about the condition and wants to hide the family member with epilepsy, we encourage them to seek advice from the doctor and maybe even counselors to get to know that epilepsy is nothing to feel embarrassed about and that they can easily participate in social activities just like everyone else.
Another reason they stay indoors is that, people with epilepsy sometimes have low self-esteem because of the seizures they experience and may lack the courage to take the initiative to socialize. According to the CRPD (article 26), the Government is responsible to take effective and appropriate measures. This includes peer support to enable persons with disabilities, to attain and maintain maximum independence and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of their life. Fortunately, there are various local initiatives where people with epilepsy can take part in, and be encouraged to overcome the challenges in order to take part in social interactions.