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  1. #1

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    I would appreciate your opinion on a behavior that my daughter has started exhibiting. I’m not sure if this is just a normal age related behavior or if its something more troublesome that I should keep an eye on.

    Let me start with a little personal history of my daughter. She is 3 ½ years old has always been healthy with the exception of recurrent ear infections for which she had tubes put in. Her hearing was never troubled by these and her verbal skills are great. She is a very well behaved girl, most people upon meeting her for the first time always assume she is older than she is because of her wonderful behavior. For her age she has a great attention span which becomes grossly obvious when she is around other kids her age. The activities we do together, blocks, computer, books, working with beads, clay, or learning the alphabet etc. always go very well. When there are other children around that are the same age she will still be engrossed in the current activity long after other kids have drifted into something else. She is constantly getting me or my wife to stop whatever we are doing so we can come play with her, she loves learning new things. She attends daycare full time during the week. Her teachers have always commented on what a good listener and helper she is for them and is usually considered one of the best behaved children wherever she goes. (which makes me and the wife feel both proud and lucky!)

    What has us concerned is that recently she has started “zoning out”, by this I mean she gets a blank look on her face, her eyes tilt up and she sometimes swallows as well. When this happens its for a short period of time I would say less than 30 seconds. It happens either when she is listening to someone or when she is talking. I asked her once when it happened while I was talking to her “what just happened” “what where you just doing/thinking” and she couldn’t explain anything to me. Her young age makes it hard to communicate on this topic. We have gotten a little apprehensive about this new behavior. Our apprehension grew when one of her teachers asked if she had a hearing problem, she said it seems like our daughter “tunes her out” and she wasn’t sure if she was ignoring her on purpose or had a hearing problem. I have never noticed any hearing problems with her, she hers whispers and soft noises just fine even if her back is to you. Her Pediatrician has never noticed anything that has caused him concern with her hearing which was followed closely due to her ear infection history.

    Is this just a 3 ½ year old being a 3 ½ old? Or could this be the start of a bigger problem? We would appreciate any advice on what to do next or what to watch out for.


  2. #2

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    Have you mentioned this to your daughter's pediatrician or to your family doctor?

    I'm not a physician and I am not even going to try to diagnose anything in someone I've never seen, nor do I want to be alarmist - but I would say this is not common or typical behavior in a child. Truthfully, the first thing that I thought of as I read your description was petit mal epilepsy - these are like mini-seizures where the individual experiences very brief episodes of usually localized seizure activity during which s/he will appear to "zone out" as you put it but there is no loss of consciousness or gross muscular symptoms.

    It may of course be something else entirely. Nonetheless, I would definitely recommend that you bring the issue to the attention of her physician(s) and have them investigate.

  3. #3

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    First thank you for your prompt reply! I greatly appreciate it!

    I’m sorry if it concerned that my post here was possibly the only measure I was taking. I should have stated that I had made an appointment to see our Pediatrician. My purpose here was to assist me in trying direct myself into a few more ideas of what might be going on. So that when we see our Pediatrician I could be better prepared. I had hoped that by doing a little self research that I might come across information that might make clear to me other possible symptoms that I might be missing. As I’m sure you know it’s a jungle of information out there and if one spends to much time at it they wind up diagnosing themselves with some exotic disease found only in female Aborigine’s in Australia even though they are a Male who was born and raised in Alaska!

    So your opinion was what I was interested in, not an actual diagnosis. After surfing the web regarding this issue I had stumbled upon your site here. I explored it for a bit and found it very informative and well done, so I thought I would see if you had any thoughts on my daughter. Of course, until we see the doctor and run some test we wont know much. However, I must say I hadn’t yet come across petit mal epilepsy/absence seizures. So after reading your reply I checked it out, now its much to early to know anything concrete. Yet, after reading several examples of children with this particular problem I must say I felt and odd sense of Déjà vu. Ill try and keep you updated as we learn more. I think your initial thought though has a real possibility at being right!

    Again thank you very much!

  4. #4

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    Please do come back and let us know what the pediatrician had to say. I hope I made it clear that this isn't the only possibility - e.g., it could be a behavioral issue - but it was the one that came to mind most.

    Is there any family history of epilepsy? Or does your daughter have any history of high or prolonged fever? serious allergies? other significant medical history? is she taking any medications currently?

  5. #5

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    yes we are keeping an open mind, but after reading up on the petit mal epilepsy/absence seizures it really hit home. we have no family hx of epilepsy that i know of. she has never had a prolonged fever, has no allergies that we know of and only significant medical history was baby jaundice when she was a newborn. shes on no medications and has had no head trauma that we know of.


  6. #6

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    just an update, little one doing well has seen her Pediatrician, have an appoinment for an EEG. will go from there!

    on a whole different topic I have been browsing you forums, they are full of great information. Could you direct me to any topics or give any information on helping children (toddlers) to deal/express anger. I always hate when my little one gets mad and cant express herself.
    Also helping toddlers with unfounded fears such as being afraid of alligators or lions from stuffed animals to videos.

    again thanks for your help/ideas

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  8. #8

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    Blank expression caught my eye. I'm curious about the results of the EEG.

    My oldest daughter who will be 33 zoned out on us all the time. When she was little we wrote it off to being absorbed in what she was doing or thinking; as a teenager we wrote it off to "attitude". She was also what one would term a rather clutsy child. If someone was going to fall down and tear their jeans -- that would be her. If someone was going to drop something or spill something, that would be her. We put her in dance when she was 3 hoping to solve that problem, she was in dance for 13 years -- didn't help. The night before her SATs she was coming home from her boyfriends and had an accident. She hit curb, was airborne, according to a witness, for two blocks, and she totaled the car. She said she fell asleep.

    She went off to college for 4 years, and she'd still zone out, and she still stumbled.

    Two weeks before her wedding she was driving home from work (night shift at hospital) and she had an accident. Said she fell asleep. She had just passed a very busy, day lit intersection with restaurants, hotels and motels, yet right after it she goes off into the field, wakes up with just enough time to veer her car away from the pole she was headed for. Took out the passenger's side of the car.

    She saw a neurologist. She had had a seizure, all the little stumbles, the zoning out, and the accidents were a result of mini seizures. She's been on medication for 11 years now, and has been doing wonderfully. No reoccurrence of the stumbles, no zoning out, no accidents either.

    In some of the literature I read back at the time there were some statistics as to the high percentage of people who said they had fallen asleep while driving and it was determined later that they were actually having seizures.

    Scary stuff, but can be fixed. I shudder when I think of the 300 mile round trip to school and back she made for 4 years. I thank God that she didn't hurt herself or anyone else.


  9. #9

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    "Scary stuff" indeed, DiMar. I suspect that many people with relatively "minor" seizure disorders (what used to be called "petit mal" seizures) don't themselves realize that they are even "zoning out", let alone realize that there is anything unusual about this. Often, it is a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend or close family member who first notices something unusual.

    Fortunately, as you said, once the condition is diagnosed it can be successfully treated.

  10. #10

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    Well sorry to get back to you so late, we live in Florida and the 4 hurricanes that’s have hit us this last month and a half has kept us hoping! LOL

    I would like to bring you up to date; our little one is doing great. We started with a MRI and EEG. The MRI was negative the EEG was ambiguous. We meet with a pediatric neurologist, while there we where fortunate enough that she had one of her “moments” for him to see. He has since diagnosed her with absence seizures, he feels she would do well on medication, Zarontin is what he prescribed. Otherwise he was very impressed with her, made me laugh when he had asked her to stand on one leg as long as she could to test her balance,,, then finally said ok switch feet I’m tired of waiting to see when you’ll fall. LMAO after talking with her He asked if she was really 5 and we where just trying to pass her off as 3 ½ LMAO.
    We are currently watching to see if the medication/dose is sufficient, so we are keeping our fingers crossed!!

    I would like to thank you; with your help I was able to be prepared with better understanding and questions. This made dealing with the situation much easier and a lot less stressful.

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