Posted by The Vigilant Mom on January 19, 2012
For years, Jenny McCarthy was the celebrity face of autism. She compassionately and boldly urged parents to look into every possible treatment and offered hope for children with a disorder that leaves so many people feeling hopeless. Whether you agree with her stance on vaccinations or her belief in alternative therapies, McCarthy did inspire parents to never give up the fight against autism.
And then some doctors started to wonder if her son had autism at all. His symptoms, they claim, are indicative of another neurological disorder — a very rare one known as Landau-Kleffner Syndrome. Most parents have never heard of it (I certainly hadn’t). But if you have a child who has been diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorder, it might be worth looking into LKS just a bit more, if only to rule it out.
Landau-Kleffner Syndrome is characterized by seizures and somewhat sudden aphasia (a sudden inability to process language or to speak) and by abnormal electric waves in the brain. For some parents, it’s as if their child suddenly went deaf. It comes on most frequently when children are between three and seven years old, and most children seem fine and healthy until their first seizure. As with autism, the outlook for children with LKS varies wildly. Some children are left with permanent language problems, others seem to almost completely recover. Most children at least outgrow the seizures and have regained normal electrical brain wave activity by adolescence.
LKS is normally treated with anti-convulsant medications as well as intensive speech therapy. Most experts agree that it is important to start treatment as early as possible. If your child has been diagnosed with autism and also suffers from seizures, it might be worth asking for an EEG to be done just to see if it might be LKS. Sometimes even the best doctors can misdiagnose. And to find out more about this rare disorder, contact the National Institute on Deafness and Other Disorders.