WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The child stares blankly off into space. He or she doesn't respond to other people, and it looks like they are daydreaming. After less than ten seconds, they come back to reality but don't remember what happened.
This seemingly-innocent scenario is typical of an absence seizure, a serious episode where the brain's electrical activity is sent into overdrive.
Michelle VanCuren, who lives in Wilmington with her family, remembers the warning signs for her son, Ottie.
"Teachers calling me every day, 'Your son's not paying attention in school again, he's staring out the window, he's wrestling with his pencils,'" VanCuren explained.
Ottie was diagnosed with ADHD, but now as a 21-year-old lives with epilepsy. Every day he worries about when his next major seizure could happen.
"I've felt that through my whole life, but I never thought anything of it," said Ottie. "I put in on the back burner, and now, I've got to deal with it. And if I'd said something sooner, I could have stopped it."
Absence seizures can afflict school-aged kids up to 200 to 300 times a day, but they only last a few seconds so are often missed by kids and adults.
Learn about the warning signs of absence seizures from a local doctor, who says teachers and people who work with kids should know how to spot the seizure.
"Absence Seizures: The Silent Truth" airs on WECT News on Feb. 21 following the Olympics.