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Landau-Kleffner Syndrome

What is language?

Language is the expression of human communication. It allows a person to express, experience, explain, and share knowledge, thoughts, observations, questions, needs, values, beliefs, and behaviors.

It is a specific method, style, or form of communicating for individuals or groups of individuals. Most language is vocal; however, it may also be expressed by symbols, as in letters and numbers, gestures, and sounds.

When language is impaired, problems can occur in all areas of a person's life, including social development, academic performance, personal relationships, employment opportunities, and self-sufficiency.

Source: National
Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

What is Landau-Kleffner syndrome?

Landau-Kleffner syndrome is a rare language disorder. It frequently occurs in normally developing children, usually between five and seven years of age, and is characterized by the gradual or sudden loss of the ability to use or comprehend spoken language.

What are the signs of Landau-Kleffner syndrome?

The following are the most common indicators of Landau-Kleffner syndrome. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.

  • Early signs may be referred to as auditory agnosia, which includes the child:
    • Suddenly having problems understanding what is said
    • Appearing to have problems with hearing and deafness may be suspected
    • Appearing to be autistic or developmentally delayed
  • Spoken language is eventually affected, which may lead to complete loss of the ability to speak.
  • Seizure disorder
  • Some children develop their own method of communicating, such as using gestures or signs.

Hearing and intelligence usually are confirmed to be normal in children with Landau-Kleffner syndrome.

The symptoms of Landau-Kleffner syndrome may resemble other conditions or medical problems, such as deafness or learning disabilities. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is Landau-Kleffner syndrome diagnosed?

Landau-Kleffner syndrome is commonly diagnosed using an electroencephalogram (EEG), a scan that shows the brain's electrical waves, as well as other diagnostic tests.

Treatment for Landau-Kleffner syndrome

Specific treatment for Landau-Kleffner syndrome will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include medication for seizures and language ability. Speech therapy should be started as early as possible and sign-language instruction may also be suggested.

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