Monday, March 16, 2009

Gus's EEG

Asperger's, autism, doctors, neurologist, EEG, brain development, tests
Gus went for an EEG (electroencephalogram) this morning. This test takes a basic measure of brainwaves and activity over a short period of time. It is often used to check for seizures, but can also give a broad picture of which parts of the brain are active under different conditions, can show which side of the brain is more dominant, or can provide other clues as to what's going on in the patient's noggin. When we went to the neurologist a couple of weeks ago, one of the first questions he asked was if Gus had ever had one. It was never done because our past specialists didn't think he's be able to stay still long enough to get a good reading. He did quite well this morning, despite a good deal of anxiety about wires being attached to his head.

The Preparation
I've learned the hard way that springing anything on a kid (particularly one on the autism spectrum) is a bad idea. But I don't always get my timing right - I told Gus last night instead of early this morning. He woke up a little nervous about the test. I told him that he would have some little wires placed on his head to check out his brain waves, and I attempted to make it sound as fun and cool as possible. He slept fine, but this morning the first thing out of his mouth was that he had a bad dream about wires in his head. He had questions and I answered them: no, it wouldn't hurt at all; all he had to do was stay still for a little while; no, there would be no zapping of his brain. The procedure was done in the doctor's office, which helped because he was familiar with the place. By the time we got there I had him pretty well distracted by talking to him about U.S. presidents; we spent some time trying to figure out who the 36th president was by counting backwards. When the usual distraction attempts fail, going to the subject of an Asperger's child's fixations can be a life saver.

The Test
The office was quiet and virtually empty at the time we arrived. When we were called, a technician, a lovely and calm older woman brought us in and explained to Gus what she was going to do. I thought he'd be able to sit in my lap, but he needed to lay down on a table, which he didn't much like, but complied. She took a bunch of little electrodes - mini half-castanets attached to a rainbow of wires - and stuck them to his head with a thick conductive cream. Then she placed 2 on his collarbone to monitor his pulse. I sat next to him to keep him calm and also to keep him from plucking the electrodes off (he kept wanting to touch his head and several times said he felt like Frankenstein). There was a portion of the test involving a strobe light that he was supposed to keep his eyes closed for. Aside from opening his eyes, he handled it fine, but I found it interesting that even with closed eyes, as the strobe sped up, he became more agitated. The next part of the test required him to do deep breathing for 3 minutes - he aced that section. The remainder of the time, we looked at a book about reptiles and amphibians and talked some more about the 36th president. (The technician went on Wikipedia and found the answer for us). All in all, it was harmless and mellow. When it was time to take the electrodes off, he got anxious again, this time just eager to be rid of them.

And now, Gus is perfectly fine and happy, as if he'd never had a Frankenstein moment today. While I doubt we'll find out anything spectacular from the test, I'm curious to see the results.

Has your child had to do an EEG test? If so, how did you prepare, and how did the test go?


  1. Mine has to go next month.

    Be careful with the interpretation of the EEG.
    During the EEG someone shouldn't do "brainwork" at all, and there might be interference from the reading and talking.

    But maybe he has been quiet enough to have a good baseline.

    Just keep it in mind, in case.....

  2. my son goes in for an eeg on june 16th and i am nervous hope i can go through

  3. Anonymous: I think if you stay calm, he'll probably stay calm. Best of luck!

  4. lol. hi. Im 18 and had my 2nd EEG. I had epilepsy as a kid, and was tested today again. I hadn't done one in 10 years, so I was pretty interested, probably because I am old enough not to freak out. But all I hate is the gooey stuff they put on your head. You feel NOTHING from the wires. the flashing lights made me twitch a bit, mainly my eyes. But ya. Its harmless. ^^

  5. Spiritualflow: thanks so much for sharing your experience and I hope everythign worked out well for you! Please stop by again!

  6. Kaylin went for an EEG yesterday and I wasn't aware that they cannot tell if a child has Aspergers through brain activity. i thought this is why she had an EEG

  7. My son nick will have an eeg Tomorrow. He is 11 years old. He has autism. He never had this test.
    I just hope he falls as sleep. I have to keep him awake from 12am to when We get to the hospital.:-)


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