Social functioning is at risk in children with medically difficult to treat epilepsy. Seizures, taking medication, restrictions in everyday activities, fatigue, hospital visits, and the stigma of having epilepsy are just a few consequences that can deprive these children from age-appropriate social activities. This affects the quality of life of these children and their families directly, but also limits the development of social skills through less than normal experience. Epilepsy surgery could form an extra threat to social functioning, since the majority of resections include brain structures and networks that are involved in social cognition (interpreting social situations). On the other hand, when it leads to the expected seizure freedom or seizure reduction, epilepsy surgery can decrease the negative consequences of having epilepsy and improve general social functioning.
We assessed social cognition in children before and after epilepsy surgery and other social ‘matters’, such as personality, general social functioning of these children, and parenting stress, parents’ psychological wellbeing, and the family’s functioning as perceived by the parents. We found that there are problems in social development of children with refractory epilepsy and in social functioning of their parents, both before and after epilepsy surgery. Epilepsy-related characteristics were found to scarcely correlate with social matters. Epilepsy surgery does not cause additional deficits in social cognition, but it does not improve social cognition either. Adverse personality traits and problems in general social functioning of both children and parents decrease to some degree after epilepsy surgery, but remain problematic