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Identifying Seizures in Children

Seizures in Children Often Go Non-Diagnosed

Things to look for . . .

Seizures are sometimes hard to recognize especially in children and babies.  A convulsive seizure is easy to notice, and seeing a child with one is a scary thing at the least.  However, convulsive seizures are only one type of seizure.  Many other types of epilepsy or seizure disorders are harder to recognize and seizures may only last a short time, even a second or two, and may look not that different from what someone may think is normal behavior.

To help, here are some typical signs in a young child that seizures may be occurring:

  • Repeated movements that don’t look normal, out of place, or unnatural.
  • Dazed “spaced out” look/behavior.
  • Lack of responsiveness for a short period of time.
  • Short periods of blackouts that some people may call “daydreaming”.
  • Sudden falls for no reason.
  • Head nodding or rapid blinking.
  • Sleepiness that isn’t normal or the child may be irritable when waking up that isn’t normal behavior.
  • If your child says things look or even smell, sound or feel funny to them.
  • Sudden onset of stomach pain followed by confusion and being sleepy.

In babies you may look for:

  • Burst of grabbing movement with arms while lying on their backs.
  • What is sometimes called “jackknife” type movements when sitting or laying down.

In teens you may want to look for:

  • Sudden panic, fear, or anger that isn’t normal for a teen and for no reason.
  • Muscle jerks of body extremities.
  • Again they may say that things look, smell, sound, or even feel strange to them.
  • Memory losses.
  • Dazed or “spaced out” behavior and non-responsive for short periods of time.
  • Blank staring with chewing or “fish mouth” movements.  A person may even pick at their clothes.  They can mumble incoherently and have strange randomized movements.

Remember a child can have these behaviors and it doesn’t mean seizures.  What you want to look for is a pattern or a change in behavior.  If your child seems unaware of his/her surroundings while staring with a blank look or chewing movements you may want a medical evaluation.  Teachers are wonderful in noticing these things so if they make you aware of them look for them yourself and you may want to seek a medical evaluation.

A good idea if you are noticing these things is to video them on your cell phone or camera so you can show it to your physician.  Keep a log (available under parent’s resources on this site) of when these things occur and how often they do to take to the doctor as well.