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5 Warning Signs Your Child May Have a Neurological Disorder

July 26, 2018

At the age of 20 months, Kelley Dawson suffered from a seizure while on vacation with her family. The emergency room physicians believed it was caused by a high fever – but her family soon learned that wasn’t the case.

Kelley struggled with frequent seizures for the next five years. Kelley’s parents felt their despair escalate as the seizures took a toll on their bubbly 7-year-old daughter. Medication would help Kelley for a while, but then another devastating seizure would strike.

Kelley’s parents researched hospitals all over the country and turned to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to get to the bottom of her seizures.

What is a neurological disorder?

Neurological disorders in children occur when something is abnormal in the brain, the nervous system or the muscle cells. These disorders can vary from epilepsy to migraine headaches to tic or movement disorders and more.

Children are either born with the disorder, such as spina bifida or hydrocephalus (fluid in the brain), or they acquire the disorder later in life – the result of a traumatic injury or serious infection.

In Kelley’s case, the pediatric neurologists at Arkansas Children’s Hospital diagnosed her with a rare inherited condition. Once they determined the underlying cause for Kelley’s seizures, her medical team performed surgery. They were able to remove the damaged part of the brain causing her seizures.

Today, Kelley is happy, healthy and seizure-free. Her parents are grateful the cause of Kelley’s seizures was identified and treated – giving their daughter hope for a healthier tomorrow.

Warning signs of neurological disorders

It’s hard to know when to seek specialized medical care for your child. Dr. Gregory Sharp, chief of neurology at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, recommends a quick evaluation by your child’s pediatrician if your child is showing a decline in developmental milestones.

“It’s a red flag if your child has lost a skill that they have previously mastered,” says Dr. Sharp. “Walking, talking, counting or feeding themselves are just a few examples of skills that can regress in children affected by neuro disorders.”

Additional warning signs of a neurological disorder include:

  • Abnormal muscle tone at birth
  • Seizures
  • Floppy baby
  • Subtle staring/unresponsive episodes
  • Slow language and/or motor skills

Dr. Sharp stresses the importance of an early diagnosis and intervention. “Some of these conditions are more easily treated with an early diagnosis,” he says. “If your child’s normal baseline behavior is off – call for an appointment to have them evaluated.”

Once the underlying cause of a developmental delay is diagnosed, therapy can be helpful. Arkansas Children’s offers speech, occupational and physical therapy to help the child maximize his or her capabilities. Early diagnosis is also greatly beneficial for conditions that urgently need surgery, such as brain tumors or hydrocephalus.

Our pediatric neurologists can see your child in one of three locations: Little Rock, Jonesboro or Springdale. For more information or to schedule an appointment, click here or call 501-364-1100 (Little Rock and Jonesboro) or 479-725-6995 (Springdale). Learn more about neurosciences at Arkansas Children's

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