When children are described as being “inattentive” or “distractible” or to be presenting with “lapses in concentration” most teachers and education specialist immediately suspect ADD / ADHD, but a condition known as Petit Mal (or absence episodes) may also be accountable for these periods of inattention.
Petit Mal (or absence episodes) refer to brief epileptic seizures of sudden onset. Children are more susceptible to Petit Mal seizures than adults and since these seizures happen in the brain there are often little to no noticeable outward signs that the child is having a seizure – this means that the condition is often completely missed or misdiagnosed. These attacks are often aborted when the child’s name is called – which makes it look even more like a classic case of inattention.
The attacks may last from a few seconds to half a minute and stop as suddenly as they started. If you suspect that your child is suffering from Petit Mal it is vital to take him to a peadiatric neurologist who will do an EEG to ascertain whether these seizures are indeed present.