• Landau–Kleffner syndrome;
  • electrical status epilepticus in slow wave sleep;
  • language regression;
  • autism;
  • epilepsy


The Landau–Kleffner syndrome (LKS) and electrical status epilepticus in slow wave sleep (ESES) are rare childhood-onset epileptic encephalopathies in which loss of language skills occurs in the context of an epileptiform EEG activated in sleep. Although in LKS the loss of function is limited to language, in ESES there is a wider spectrum of cognitive impairment. The two syndromes are distinct but have some overlap. The relationship between the epileptiform EEG abnormalities and the loss of cognitive function remains controversial, even in LKS which is the most widely accepted as an acquired epileptic aphasia. Language regression also occurs in younger children, frequently in the context of a more global autistic regression. Many of these children have epileptiform EEGs. The term autistic regression with epileptiform EEG has been proposed for these children. Whether these children are part of an extended LKS spectrum is very controversial, because there are differences in age of onset, clinical phenotype, and EEG findings. An understanding of the available data on clinical characteristics, EEG findings, pathology, prognosis, and treatment of these syndromes is essential for further progress in this area. MRDD Research Reviews 2004;10:144–149. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.