Dr. Aditi Shankardass is pioneering the use of EEG technology to give children with developmental disorders their most accurate diagnosis.
Developmental disorders in children are typically diagnosed by observing behavior, but Aditi Shankardass suggests we should be looking directly at brains. She explains how one EEG technique has revealed mistaken diagnoses and transformed children’s lives.
Follow this link to watch Aditi Shankardass’ Ted Talk.
Summary of Dr Shankardass’ Work in Pediatric Neurology
It is estimated that one in six children suffer from developmental disorders, including mental retardation, autism spectrum disorders, learning disorders, attentional disorders, genetic disorders, sleep disorders. However, despite the fact that all these disorders originate in the brain, most of them are diagnosed solely by looking at behavioural symptoms and without ever looking at the brain! That is to say, they are diagnosed behaviourally rather than neurologically. This often results in an incomplete or inaccurate diagnosis.
Dr Shankardass specializes in a groundbreaking EEG diagnostic technology developed by Harvard University. This technology records and analyses the EEG (brain electrical activity) in real time, allowing them to watch the child’s brain as it performs various functions, detect even the slightest abnormalities in these functions, and provide a more accurate and comprehensive clinical, picture of the child’s abnormalities.
The results have been startling. Almost 50% of the children previously diagnosed with autism are found to be suffering from some degree of brain seizure activity that is undetectable to the eye. In some cases, these seizures are the cause of the child’s autism-like symptoms. In other cases, these seizures are not causal, but comorbid (coexistent) to autism and are exacerbating the child’s symptoms. And in a few cases, the seizures are mild and possibly unrelated to, or a consequence of, the child’s symptoms. In the cases where these seizures are the cause of the symptoms, once the seizures have been detected and treated, the level and speed of recovery in the children has been remarkable.
This new-generation of EEG technology is proving to be a valuable investigative tool that is revealing specific problems hidden within these children’s brains that would never have been detected by behavioural assessments. It is enabling us to better triangulate the cause of the child’s symptoms, by eliminating the possibility that some or all of the child’s symptoms might be caused by epileptiform (seizure-like) activity in the brain. Thus, these EEG scans are enabling a more accurate diagnoses and more targeted treatments. Finally, hundreds of children, who were undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by the system, are realizing their full potential while there their brains can still recover. Hundreds of lives are being transformed.