Child Behavior Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Sleep deprived EEG what does it diagnose?

Our 5 yo son is in a special education class (8 children in class) since he needs the extra attention. He seems to have some learning disabilities when it covers letters, numbers and reading, but subjects he's interested in he grasps and memorizes brilliantly. He has difficulty following directions, lack of respect for authority ie. parents and teachers, understanding the consequences of his actions and he is very stubborn. In his pre-k setting (24 children in class) he was being ignored by the teachers because if he did not follow the teacher's directions he would be left alone to play instead of following through with the action/activity. He has been tested by 3 different psychiatrists, one said: perhaps he falls under the spectrum of autism. The next said: perhaps he's pddnos or maybe not and the last one who specializes in Autism said: he is NOT Autistic!

He is a sweet caring boy, a very picky eater, generous and plays with his 3 yo sibling very well. He likes to daydream at times but seems completely concious when he does. He has a very hard time playing any team sports and is very cautious and scared of trying anything new or going to new places. He wants to take karate lessons, but when we get ready to go and sign up - he gets so scared he refuses to go. He will not participate in any structural playing ie. activities at birthday parties where all the other children are participating he will sit and hide someplace - to avoid being involved. He loves to role play, pretends he's a super hero or anything else, except being himself.
Because we would like him to be able to start mainstream Kindergarten this year we thought having him see a Neurologist would be a good idea. We had a brief meeting with the Neurologist, where he checked our son's reflexes and asked some questions. He wants our son to have a sleep deprived EEG done a.s.a.p before we go any further. I have read up about EEG testing and cannot understand the reason for doing this test, when I asked the doctor he said that our son could be having "unknown" seizures and needed to be checked. Is it likely that an EEG test will help our son at all? He has NEVER had a "visible" seizure or any other physical problem (except perhaps a bit clumsy - but so am I). He has also never been on any medications except antibiotics. He has "tubes" in both ears and lost precious time during speech development due to chronic ear infections. We worry about putting him through that very "odd" experience of an EEG test for a 5 yo, especially since his teachers in the special education class think his problems may stem from him being a perfectionist, being afraid of failing and that he might have low self esteem.
What testing do you suggest? How would you proceed now had it been your child?
Thank you for you help!
6 Responses
242606 tn?1243786248
The neurologist is trying to be complete in his examination of your son. You do not have to worry about any long-term consequences of undergoing the EEG. As you know, the EEG is designed to detect abnormalities by measuring the electrical impulses in the brain. Abnormalities are more likely to be evident when the brain is experiencing forms of stress, as by tiredness or drowsiness. That is the reason for having the sleep deprived EEG. You'll also note, if you agree to have the procedure, that your son will be asked to hyperventilate, and at another portion of the EEG flashing lights will occur. All these experiences are designed to illuminate any possible abnormalities in the elctrical activity of the brain. There are various forms of seizure, and they are not all characterized by excessive motor movement that we've come to associate with seizures. I think your neurologist is doing the right thing, and the procedure will not be harmful to your son.
Avatar universal
My daughter had this test done for the first time when she was 5 years old (she now has it done once a year).  It does not hurt them at all.  They use a paste to stick the wires to the childs head and then wrap the head in gauze to keep the wires in place (my daughter puts up a fuss while they are connecting the wires, not because it hurts, but because it is an unknown to her)(once everything is connected, she will settle down).  Ask them to put you in a room where your son can watch TV (this might help to distract him or you could bring books to read to him).  My daughter thinks the flashing lights are neat and when they do the part where they hyperventilate them, they give them a pinwheel to blow on (which they get to take home with them) which is also neat for them.

All the teachers were telling us that my daughter was ADD, etc.  It turned out that my daughter was having petit mal seizures (you cannot tell when she is having them).  The EEG was abnormal so they than did a video EEG at the hospital and that is when they caught the seizures.

My advice is to have your son do the test.  It is not harmful and might shed light on some or all of his issues.
Avatar universal
Sounds a little like my daughter.  She is like a roller coaster at school when it comes to grades.  She is a little older, almost 10.  It has been discussed that she might be ADD, without the hyperactivity involved (ADHD).  Has your doctor discussed this possiblility with you?
Avatar universal
Thank you for posting a comment. Our son has only been to see a Neurologist one time. The doctor did not seem to have any comments or concerns that he discussed with us - instead he went straight into saying we should have an EEG done. That's what was so confusing...since we never seen any signs of seizures. So no nothing has been mentioned about ADD.
Avatar universal
Well, I usually take advice that is given to me if it is reasonable, so if it were me, I would go ahead with the EEG.  If you haven't done so already, you might want to have him tested by a psychologist for learning disabilities, which come in many forms.  It is my understanding that a psychologist, not a psychiatrist would probably do the testing for that.  For me and my daughter, it's like a puzzle we are trying to figure out.  She can do well, for a while, then she will do a 180 and not do well at all.  Sometimes, I wonder if she is just not motivated to do the work.  She does not want to be bothered, and would rather have fun.  And I wonder this because of her grades.  Yet, she can be totally miserable at times, too, but that is happening less frequently.  Depression has also crossed my mind with her.  Anyway, keep at it for your son.  It's a daily adventure, and he needs you as his advocate to make sure he gets what he needs.
Avatar universal
My 6 year old son had his first round of eegs at the age of 17 months. He was having atonic seizures (very subtle - head drop seizures) He was medicated and the seizures stopped. We reduced the amount of medication and he was off all seizure meds by age 2 1/2. The seizures caused developmental delays and he started receiving ot, pt, and speech services almost immediately. He is currently in a "regular" kindergarten class with a full time paraprofessional. He has been doing great and three weeks ago he started blinking excessively. We are now scheduled to go back for another sleep deprived eeg. It is concerning and because he is so much more aware he tends to get more anxious about any procedure.

My son sounds a lot like yours - sweet, gentle, loving. He is a bit of a picky eater and wakes up very early (between 4 and 5 am). He is also very cautious and does not stray far from me. We had his vision checked this past fall and he could hardly see! He compensated very well, because it was all he ever knew, but when the eye doctor asked if he was clingy - especially in new situations and said could be because he isn't seeing properly. Now with glasses he is much more independent (a bit naughtier, too - now that he can see new things to get in to!)

Even though I am scared to hear bad news - I know the sooned we get answers - the sooner we work toward a solution! Good luck to you!
Popular Resources
Fearing autism, many parents aren't vaccinating their kids. Can doctors reverse this dangerous trend?
Is a gluten-free diet right for you?
We answer your top questions about the flu vaccine.
Learn which over-the-counter medicines are safe for you and your baby
Yummy eats that will keep your child healthy and happy
Healing home remedies for common ailments