Conditions & Treatments

Landau-Kleffner Syndrome

Landau-Kleffner syndrome (also called infantile acquired aphasia, acquired epileptic aphasia or aphasia with convulsive disorder) is a language disorder characterized by the gradual or sudden loss of the ability to use or comprehend spoken language.

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.

Treatment Programs

Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

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  • Neuroendovascular Program
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  • Psychology Assessment Center
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  • Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program
    The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Epilepsy Surgery Program provides surgical evaluation and treatment for pediatric patients whose epilepsy cannot be managed with medical therapy or those for whom surgery is the best option overall.

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