Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. One lesser-known but equally challenging form of epilepsy is PCDH19 (Protocadherin 19), a rare genetic condition that primarily affects girls.
What is PCDH19 Epilepsy?
PCDH19 epilepsy, also known as a type of Clustering Epilepsy, is a rare genetic disorder caused by mutations in the PCDH19 gene located on the X chromosome. This condition predominantly affects females, but in rare cases, males can be affected too.
PCDH19 Epilepsy is a broad range of severity in seizures, cognitive delays, and other symptoms, all resulting from a mutation in the PCDH19 gene located on the X chromosome. Males carrying the mutation typically remain unaffected, and they transmit the mutation to all of their daughters but none of their sons. Females with the mutation have a 50% likelihood of passing it on to their daughters and a 50% chance of transmitting it to their sons. Recently, researchers have identified some unaffected females and are investigating the factors that protect them from the disorder. Mosaic males can also be affected, but to date, only a small number of males have been diagnosed.
Symptoms and Challenges
The primary symptom of PCDH19 epilepsy is seizures, which can manifest in various ways, such as focal seizures, generalized seizures, and convulsive status epilepticus. Seizures often occur in clusters, meaning that multiple seizures happen in a short period, sometimes even within a day. In between clusters, individuals may go for weeks or months without any seizure activity.
Not just seizures: children with PCDH19 epilepsy may experience developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and behavioral challenges such as autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and aggression. These additional challenges can make daily life and social interactions more difficult for affected children and their families.
Impact on Families
Caring for a child with PCDH19 epilepsy can be physically, emotionally, and financially demanding for families. The unpredictable nature of seizures often leads to constant worry and anxiety for parents. And, the need for specialized medical care, therapies, and educational support can place a significant financial burden on families.
Parents of children with PCDH19 epilepsy may also struggle with feelings of isolation, as the rarity of the condition can make it difficult to find others who understand their experiences. This sense of isolation can be exacerbated by the fact that many healthcare professionals are unfamiliar with PCDH19 epilepsy, leaving families to navigate the complexities of the disorder on their own.
The Importance of Early Diagnosis and Support
Early diagnosis of PCDH19 epilepsy is important, as it allows for prompt initiation of appropriate treatments and interventions. Identifying the condition early can help families connect with support networks and resources, including specialists, therapists, and other families facing similar challenges.
Connecting with others who understand the unique experiences of living with PCDH19 epilepsy can provide invaluable emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of belonging. Online forums, social media groups, and local support groups can all serve as vital lifelines for families affected by PCDH19 epilepsy.
PCDH19 epilepsy remains a mysterious and challenging condition, understanding its symptoms and impact can help demystify the disorder for affected individuals and their families. By creating awareness, promoting early diagnosis, and connecting families with resources and support networks such as * PCDH19 Alliance, we can help ensure that those living with PCDH19 epilepsy are not left to face their challenges alone. Together, we can work towards a brighter future for individuals with PCDH19 epilepsy and their loved ones.
*The PCDH19 Alliance is a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness about PCDH19 epilepsy and supporting affected individuals and their families. Their website offers information on the latest research, resources, and updates on PCDH19 epilepsy.
image from Choutette Publishing
I am not proud that I’m a bit of a Caillou expert. My daughter, living with autism has been a fan of the children's TV show for 14 years now. Most parents can't even spell his name and would love to avoid the show. They go to great lengths just to get through their child’s Caillou phase and introduce other palatable shows.
Caillou is a four-year-old fascinated with the world around him. He lives with his mom, dad and little sister Rosie. The grandparents have a strong connection too, as they whisk Caillou off on big adventures like to the zoo and parks. However, this little character comes off to parents as whiny and annoying. Four-year-olds just like Caillou is trying to live a full life figuring out that the world and preschool is hard work!
Some urban legend says the main character has cancer because he is bald. This is false. The TV show as it turns out is based on the illustrated children’s book from when Caillou was only a nine-month-old baby without hair. The creators thought the character as he grew older with hair growth would be unrecognizable so they kept him bald. Also, a side note from the publishers of Caillou, Choutette Publishing explained on their site, “Caillou’s baldness may make him different, but we hope it helps children understand that being different isn’t just okay, it’s normal.” source, http://www.chouette-publishing.com/ENT
Enough history lesson on Caillou.
So, why does my 14-year-old with autism worship the bald character so much? From my sleuthing and trying to understand why she still watches such shows like this one, Curious George, Dora the Explorer, Barney and Care Bears is understandable.
The predictability and a sense of control are reassuring to her. Over the years and banking over thousands of Caillou hours, she knows every episode and predicts what the start middle and ending will be.
Her world and living with autism, for the most part, is full of sensory overload. Socializing and communication issues such as eye contact and body language are challenging. Anxiety consumes her daily life as she works so hard keeping it all together during a 7 hour school day.
She cannot wait to come home change into her soft pajamas,
lounge in her favorite comfy recliner and consume her treasured toddler shows.
This is her "drug" of choice.
Is that too harsh to say?
Naw, because it makes sense to me.
My daughter in her favorite part of the library checking out cartoon books.
She chooses to watch educational programs, I am really okay with that. We have come along way from when I grew up watching the Tom & Jerry Cartoon, where Tom the mean cat is trying to hurt a little gray mouse named Jerry.
I am happy to report because of my research about this topic, I have new found peace with that sweet, whiny Caillou character!
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