Special education participation in children with epilepsy: what does it reflect?

Berg, A. T.; Hesdorffer, D. C.; Zelko, F. A.

Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Aug 19; 22(2):336-41


Epilepsy is associated with academic and neurocognitive disorders, with the latter often assumed to explain the former. We examined utilization of special education services (SpES) in relation to neurocognitive test scores in a case-matched sibling control study. In a follow-up assessment 8-9 years after entry into a prospective study of childhood-onset epilepsy, cases and siblings participated in an interview and standardized neurocognitive testing. Analyses included 142 pairs in which both had Full Scale IQ >/= 80 and the case had normal examination and imaging. Sixty-four (45%) cases and 25 (17.6%) controls reported SpES utilization, (matched odds ratio [mOR]=5.3, P<0.0001). Adjustment for neurocognitive test scores resulted in a mOR of 4.6 (P<0.0001). Types and duration of services were similar in cases and controls. Twenty-four percent of school-aged cases were already receiving services at the time of initial epilepsy diagnosis. Young people with epilepsy have academic difficulties that are not explained simply by cognitive test scores.

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