Prior studies have demonstrated that a sizeable percentage of children presenting to the epilepsy monitoring unit for evaluation of paroxysmal events (seizures) are found to have non-epileptic seizures (NES) (Asano et al., 2005). The importance of identifying NES cannot be overstated since misdiagnosis often leads to treatment with antiepileptic drugs, which may have side effects that may negatively impact cognition (Chen, Chow, & Lee, 2001) and perhaps even cognitive development. While studies in adults with epilepsy or NES have demonstrated impaired executive functioning and social outcome compared to healthy peers, less work is present among pediatric populations (Cragar, Berry, Fakhoury, Cibula, & Schmitt, 2002; Rantanen, Eriksson, & Nieminen, 2012). Furthermore, research is void of information regarding social skills between these pediatric groups. The aims of this study were to examine group differences between social skills and executive functioning between pediatric epileptic and NES patients, determine if social skills predict diagnostic classification, and examine correlations between executive functioning and social skill measures. This study was conducted on the epilepsy monitoring units (EMU) at Phoenix Children's Hospital and Primary Children's Medical Center. The parent/caregiver of patients admitted to the EMU for video-EEG diagnosis of seizures was approached regarding study participation. A total of 43 children and parent/caregiver participated in this study. The NES group consisted of15 participants (67% female; M age at testing = 12.62, SD = 3.33), and the epilepsy (ES) group consisted of 28 participants (50% female, M age at testing = 11.79, SD = 3.12). Both the parents and children completed brief questionnaires measuring executive functioning and social skills. These measures included The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning, The Behavioral Assessment System for Children, Second Edition, and the Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales. Binomial logistic regression analysis showed social skills did not significantly predict diagnostic group. No group differences were found between children with epilepsy and NES on measures of executive functioning or social skills. Parents of both groups rated their children as having below average social skills, while children rated their social skills in the average range compared to healthy peers. Both children and parents of both groups rated their executive functioning within the average range. Executive functioning scores and social skill scores significantly correlated and regression analyses indicated that the Behavioral Regulation Index on the BRIEF significantly predicted Social Skills on the SSIS. Interpretationof results, limitations, and future directions are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





children, pediatric, epilepsy, non-epileptic seizure, executive functioning, social skills

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Psychology Commons