Finding Jackson – Understanding Absence Seizures – Part 1


Those are the words we’ve been saying far too many times over the past few weeks. No, he hasn’t been hiding from us and he hasn’t been running away. He’s been having Absence Seizures. And it’s one of the scariest and unknown things our family has ever had to deal with.

This is the first of a series of blogs where I will try to keep you up to date on the health our 6 year-old-son Jackson, and how our family learns to cope with this mysterious condition.

The past few months we started seeing Jackson stare off into space while sitting around the dinner table. We laughed it off thinking he was bored of the same old spaghetti dinner and our typical family conversations. He’d zone out for 7 or 8 seconds and then just snap back to life all of a sudden. No big deal, right? Kids day dream all the time.

Our oldest daughter, Brianna, notices every little thing Jackson does, ALL THE TIME!! Whether he’s wiggling his toes, or chewing with his mouth open, or tapping his fingers, everything he does annoys her – a typical older-sister, younger-brother relationship. So of course she was really helpful in starting to notice his “daydreams” more often than we would. She’d tell us, “He’s doing that thing again” or “He keeps staring off and blinking his eyes”. We’d listen and make note but the episodes lasted just a few seconds and without seeing it first-hand it’s hard to really grasp the seriousness of it all.

One day a few weeks back, my wife, Ashley, was talking with him in the kitchen. He engaged in his typical routine of begging for another after school snack, when right in front of her, in mid-sentence, he was gone! He stopped talking, standing there his eyes rolled up in his head,  continuously blinking and chewing for an incredibly long 10-15 seconds. It was at that moment Ashley knew this was something more than just daydreaming.

She did what any millennial would do. She googled “Why is my son staring off, blinking and chewing” and that led her directly to a page on Epilepsy and Absence Seizures. She started reading and immediately sent me the link. She knew right away that this is what was happening to our son and we needed to do something about it.

We started watching him like he was a newborn baby again. Just staring at him waiting for something to happen. And sure enough, over the coming days we’d come to see upwards of 10 or more on any given day, and that’s only before school and after dinner time through the week. He was likely having 20 or more of these episodes every single day.

We called our doctor who immediately put in a referral to a pediatric neurologist. It’s been a couple weeks and we are still waiting to hear. At this point we will be calling again tomorrow morning to check in. After some good advice from a close friend with epilepsy experience, we called the Epilepsy Support Centre (Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario) and spoke with someone there. She was great and explained a lot over the phone about what we’ve been experiencing. We have an educational appointment set up with them for later this week.

We are now eagerly waiting to hear from the doctors to get started on Jackson’s testing. He will likely undergo numerous tests to determine what exactly is going on and how severe they may become. As a family we are trying to remain calm and focused on the best possible outcome. At times it’s difficult to see the light at the end of tunnel but we know that he’ll be getting the best possible care and he’ll have an amazing support system of friends and family surrounding him.

Stay tuned for the next blog with updates as we progress and learn more and more about what’s going on with Jackson.

Alex Davy, DCL VP-Creative