How is LKS diagnosed?
If you or your doctor suspects LKS, contact a neurologist. A neurologist can make an initial diagnosis to determine appropriate therapies for your child, including medication, speech therapy and behavioral therapy.
Why is LKS difficult to diagnose?
LKS can be difficult to diagnose because it can resemble other conditions. Sometimes doctors suspect Asperger's Syndrome (high functioning) or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (severe impairment). What distinguishes LKS is the sudden, late loss of language and the appearance of autistic characteristics between the ages of 3 to 6.
Sometimes, a seizure can precipitate these symptoms; other times, simple illness (like chicken pox) or trauma (a fall from the changing table) might spark a change.
How do I know this isn't autism?
Children who have autism typically regress somewhere between 18 and 24 months of age--earlier than children with pure LKS, who tend to develop symptoms at 3 to 6 years of age. Typically, a child with LKS should have good eye contact. "You can tell by looking at them that they're trying to understand what you say or they're trying to be engaged or involved in their surroundings," says James Riviello, MD. On the other hand, children with autism who have regression do not seem involved in an examination, or when interacting with other people, exhibit poor eye contact and no language.
What are the primary symptoms?
About two-thirds of children with LKS will have seizures and two-thirds will have behavioral problems, but the primary cognitive dysfunction remains loss of language.
Also, patients with LKS may show spikes on their EEGs, especially when asleep.