The electroencephalographic abnormalities seen in Landau-Kleffner syndrome (LKS) (language deterioration) are non-specific, and consist of a variety of epileptiform discharge patterns including continuous slow spike-wave discharges during sleep, focal sharp waves with spikes, and centrotemporal (rolandic) spikes. Similarly, the EEG abnormalities seen in autistic epileptiform regression (language and social/behavioral deterioration) are non-specific and overlap with those seen in LKS. By contrast, distinct epilepsy syndromes in otherwise normal children occur in the EEG-defined benign focal epilepsies of childhood. Occipital spikes or spike-wave present either in the older child with visual symptoms and headache or in the younger child with autonomic symptoms followed by brief or prolonged partial motor seizures. Seven young children (five from a consecutive series of 42) presenting clinically with autism or autistic regression and possible or definite seizures, whose EEGs revealed occipital spikes or spike-wave characteristic of the benign epilepsies, are reported. Although occipital spikes are commonly seen in young children as an age-dependent EEG-defined benign focal epilepsy, their high frequency in this population with cognitive difficulties suggests a possible causal relation. The effects of the epileptiform discharge on cognitive functioning presumably reflect extension into temporal and parietal lobes, rather than occipital disturbances per se.
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