This post is Part I in our journey with our new seizure diagnosis.
The left mid-temporal lobe of the left hemisphere. That’s where the seizures are occurring. It’s really no surprise for me to learn that language function is centered in the left hemisphere.
I have often heard discussions of my son’s receptive and expressive language in ABA meetings. Finally, I’ve learned what that means, at least in a rudimentary way:
Visual and auditory input to the brain is known as “afferent” or “receptive”.
Motor output – (speech) is known as “efferent” or “expressive”.
The frontal, parietal and temporal lobes of the brain are involved in operating the language function of the brain. The receptive (visual and auditory input) function operates in Wernicke’s Area, partially in the temporal area. According to About.com:
“The temporal lobes play an important role in organizing sensory input, auditory perception, language and speech production, as well as memory association and formation…
The temporal lobes are involved in several functions of the body including:
- Auditory Perception
- Emotional Responses
- Visual Perception”
Well, that explains something, doesn’t it? I learned today that there is a clear physiological basis for my little boy having difficulty distinguishing sounds from background noise, in addition to his expressive and receptive language and speech issues.
My son’s abnormal seizure activity is focused in this temporal region. The seizures are not spreading to other regions. This means that my son must undergo an MRI, under anesthesia, to rule out any cysts or tumors.
At this point, as a mother, I have to put aside any fear and look completely objectively at what needs to be done. He must have the anesthesia and he must have the MRI. There is no justification for not ruling out the rare possibility that he has any structural abnormality in the brain. On an intellectual level, I can understand the necessity of the procedure. On a mother-level, it terrifies me that he is going to have anesthesia. I hate it. And I’m scared. But I will do it because I must do everything I can for my son.
When I first posted on Wednesday that I found out my son is having seizures, one of my bloggy friends asked what prompted me to have the EEG done. The simple answer is that I trusted our neurologist to know what he was doing. I did not believe the EEG would show anything at all but I trusted anyway. That trust was well placed.
My son’s EEG revealed that his seizures are occurring intermittently throughout the sleep stages, but predominantly in Stage 2 of his sleep. Having only a vague notion of the stages of sleep, I learned the following:
Stage 1 is the beginning of the sleep cycle and light stage of sleep, considered a transition period between wakefulness and sleep. It only lasts around 5-10 minutes. If you wake someone during this stage, they might report that they weren’t really asleep.
Stage 2 – The second stage of sleep. Lasts for approximately 20 minutes. The brain begins to produce bursts of rapid, rhythmic brain wave activity known as sleep spindles. Body temperature starts to decrease and heart rate begins to slow.
Stage 3 -Deep, slow brain waves known as delta waves begin to emerge during stage 3 which is a transitional period between light and a very deep sleep.
Stage 4 is a deep sleep that lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Bed-wetting and sleepwalking are most likely to occur at the end of stage 4 sleep.
Stage 5 -Most dreaming occurs during the fifth stage of sleep, known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In REM sleep there is also increased respiration rate and increased brain activity and the brain and other body systems become more active, but muscles become more relaxed. Dreaming occurs because of increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become paralyzed.
Apparently, sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, 3 and 4. After stage 4, stage 3 and then stage 2 sleep are repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night.
The REM stage usually starts about an hour and a half after falling asleep. The first cycle of REM sleep might last only a short amount of time, but each cycle becomes longer. REM sleep can last up to an hour.
You know, there are so many turns and twists on the journey through a life with autism that only begin with a diagnosis. I’ve stumbled along, so many times lost, without a map, and without directions. It’s so often true that we are given the diagnosis and sent out into the fog, alone, to navigate our way through the unknown, trying to do what is best for our children.
There are many people out there who prey upon our vulnerability. They sell stories and ideas and snake oil to us. They can put it in pretty boxes and use big words and stories of cures and miracles. We want to believe. We want to try. I wanted to believe and I wanted to try.
Walking toward the hyperbaric oxygen chambers, the B12 shots, the other “alternatives”, my instincts (and good advice from my many bloggy friends) took me back to our pediatrician to find out the risks of these things. And while I believe our pediatrician failed my son in not sending us to the neurologist right after the diagnosis, she did send us there at the beginning of this summer, when I came to her looking for answers.
Now, my son has a respected head of the Autism Treatment Center who is a specialist in the field of pediatric neurology looking for answers. This is the best of medicine, science, and reality. And I believe we’ll stick with it for a while…
Please remember that I never saw any signs that my son might be having any seizure activity whatsoever. I honestly and truly believed that his EEG would come back negative and the whole EEG experience would be a complete waste of time. I believed the whole procedure (and the hell that he went through in attaching and removing the electrodes) was unjustified.
DO YOU SEE HOW WRONG I WAS?
PLEASE, PLEASE, have your child tested. Whether you believe that there are signs or symptoms of seizure activity or not, you really don’t know. Over 60 percent of autistic children who undergo the overnight EEG have abnormal readings. There were no symptoms in our case!
WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE – CAN HURT YOUR CHILD…
It’s up to us as our children’s best, and sometimes only, advocates to do everything we can for them. This is one of those things. The sooner, the better.