Autism and Epilepsy
One of the medical conditions that can develop in individuals with ASD is epilepsy, a neurological disease characterized by recurrent seizures. There is a strong association between epilepsy and autism; while epilepsy affects an estimated one percent of the general population, up to 25 percent of people with ASD have epilepsy. Seizures in youth with ASD commonly begin after age ten.
Although little is known about the connection between ASD and epilepsy, epilepsy can be also caused by genetic factors, head trauma, tumors, stroke, infectious diseases, withdrawal from certain drugs, and abnormal brain structure. Experts advise parents to seek evaluation from a neurologist if they suspect that their child has epilepsy. Diagnosis may involve imaging tests, bloodwork, and an EEG to determine seizure-related brain function.
There are different types of seizures, although ASD does not seem to be correlated with any particular type. Some researchers believe there is an underlying common cause for ASD and epilepsy, although this has not been proven.
Signs and symptoms of a seizure in children may include the following, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Involuntary, jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Rapid eye blinking and staring
- Stiffening of the body
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Breathing problems
- Appearing confused or non-responsive
Treatment for epilepsy may involve antiepileptic (AED) medications. These drugs have side effects such as abdominal pain, tremors, agitation and aggression, and allergic reactions, and careful monitoring by the child’s physician is essential. Alternative treatments include special diets, such as low carb, ketogenic diets, vagus nerve stimulation, and steroids.
Harsha Autism Centers provide ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 2-22) with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how Harsha Autism Centers can help please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (812) 233-8833.