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Landau-Kleffner Syndrome

What is Landau-Kleffner syndrome?

Landau-Kleffner syndrome is a rare language disorder. It often happens in normally developing children, usually between 5 and 7 years of age, and is characterized by the slow or sudden loss of the ability to use or understand spoken language.

What are the signs of Landau-Kleffner syndrome?

The following are the most common signs of Landau-Kleffner syndrome. However, each child 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, like 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, like deafness or learning disabilities. Always talk with your health care provider for a diagnosis.

How is Landau-Kleffner syndrome diagnosed?

Landau-Kleffner syndrome is commonly diagnosed using an electroencephalogram (EEG). This is a scan that shows the brain's electrical waves. Other diagnostic tests may be used.

Treatment for Landau-Kleffner syndrome

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

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your child's tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

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

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 4/30/2015
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