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You are in: Home > Articles > Epilepsy and Speech and Language

Epilepsy and Speech and Language

Epilepsy and Speech and Language

The following information was provided by Afasic

The World Health Organisation define an epileptic seizure as a transient loss of function of all or part of the brain due to excessive electrical activity. Physical, sensory or other functions can be temporarily lost.

Certain types of epilepsy can be linked with learning, behavioural and speech and language difficulties. This is increasingly recognised and the risks are greater if epilepsy occurs before 2 years of age. Parkinson found that from a small study of children referred for assessment of their epilepsy, 40% had undiagnosed language impairment of varying degrees of severity.

Epilepsy can cause temporary loss of function in one or more parts of the brain. If these parts are involved with understanding, organisation and communication processing difficulties in using language can result. These difficulties can be severe, causing general delay in language development or a disordered pattern of language abilities.

The following epilepsy syndromes have associated language difficulties. They include:

• Landau Kleffner Syndrome
• ESES or Tassinari's Syndrome - now called CSWS (Continuous Spike Waves of Slow Sleep)
• Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
• Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Sometimes the disability can be extremely subtle - such as high level language impairment disorder. They may have pragmatic difficulties and, therefore, will not have a clear understanding of language use. They can appear socially inept and can misread others' intentions. In these cases the child may exhibit bizarre or socially unacceptable behaviours or the child's language may appear to be 'odd' in an inconsistent way. They may have poor turn taking skills, excessive or restricted topic maintenance, and poor skills in greeting, questioning, seeking the attention of others, describing or commenting.

Some children may have episodes of slurred or disfluent speech. These episodes can occur suddenly and be unconnected with stress or other obvious 'trigger' factors. They can be caused by changes in medication and/or as a result of epileptogenic activity i.e. electrical activity in the brain which does not necessarily manifest itself as an obvious epileptic attack.

For information on all aspects of speech and language difficulties contact Afasic


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