There's another layer to what we noticed when.
Joy was born with a visible sign of things to come, a blotch on her scalp -- that's a newborn photo at right.
On the first day, it was written off as maybe a scrape. On the second day, the word was linear nevus sebaceous. It was, we learned, a fairly common blip, a blotch of inappropriate dermal tissue packed full of oily glands -- hence the "sebaceous" -- on which no hair would grow.
We consulted with a pediatric plastic surgeon, who ended up doing three outpatient surgeries over the course of a year, the first when Joy had just turned one. No complications from the surgeries, other than a scar that her hair grew to cover, with a promise of potential scar reduction surgery some years later.
The seizures started between the second and third surgeries, at age 15 months, summer of '05. They deserve a post on their own, so I won't go into a lot of detail except that we have an excellent pediatric neurologist, who even happens to be a fine Boggle player! He first floated the idea that the epilepsy and nevus might be related in summer of '06, but in such a low-key way that we didn't really glom onto it and press him for more details and a definitive diagnosis of linear nevus sebaceous syndrome (LNSS) until November of that year.
LNSS is a rare congenital disorder that was first identified in 1957 and then independently in 1962, and is also known as Feuerstein-Mims-Schimmelpenning Syndrome. My understanding is that it's rare to the point that the number of cases in the US numbers in the 100s. It's a genetic disorder but a mosaic one, so it's only happening in the affected areas rather than systemwide and there's no blood test for it. The classic triad of symptoms are the nevus (check), epilepsy (check), and cognitive issues (check). It can also, however, include a whole slew of other systems such as eyes, ears, skeletal, and genito-urinary, and sometimes a diagnosis will be made if one of the triad is missing but some of the others are present.
We are fortunate that Joy seems to have the classic triad, and nothing else. She's seen a geneticist, had her eyes checked (one of the most stressful doctor visits we've ever had, but that's another story), and had her hearing checked (inconclusive because she has the attention span of a gnat, but we don't have any evidence for being concerned).
For Joy, LNSS makes sense as an umbrella diagnosis that more or less explains all the rest, including the autism. However, it doesn't give us much guidance as to what to DO about any of it...
I'd link to a good summary site, except I haven't found one that I liked recently! There isn't even a Wikipedia entry, for cryin' out loud. I haven't found an online support group specific to LNSS either, though there is an Epidermal Nevus YahooGroup that gets sporadic traffic, where a variety of kinds of nevi are included and only a few of the participants are dealing with the syndrome beyond just the nevus. Maybe there's a mission for me in that lack of information, at some point.