What’s the Connection Between Autism and Epilepsy?

Both autism and epileptic seizures in children are disorders of the brain. Though not every child who has epilepsy will become diagnosed with autism, scientists studying the connection between the two disorders have found some links.

Relationship Between Autism and Epilepsy

A number of studies in recent years have found links between epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Epilepsy has also been found to be more common in autistic children and ASD more prevalent in kids who have epilepsy.

Medical researchers have proposed that some of the brain abnormalities associated with ASD may also contribute to seizures. According to some research, electrical activity in the brains of children with autism show epileptic discharges more often than in people without ASD. Further, children with epilepsy are more likely to develop autistic traits.

Certain gene mutations or changes in DNA may increase the occurrence of both epilepsy and autism.

Treating Seizures in Children

Children with ASD are typically treated for a range of issues related to the development of social and occupational skills. If you suspect your child is having seizures, it’s important to seek evaluation by a pediatric neurologist.

Epilepsy is typically treated with anti-epileptic medications (AEDs), which lessen the severity and frequency of seizures in children. In cases where medication isn’t effective, other options to lessen or eliminate seizures exist. For instance, vagal nerve stimulation uses a small, implanted device to reduce seizures in children.

Living With Epilepsy and Autism

Some children with epilepsy experience greater socialization and behavior challenges than others. The link between epilepsy and autism can help to explain this, giving children with both conditions better-informed treatment plans.

Epileptic children are able to benefit from a wide range of autism treatment services designed to address the socialization challenges that some may experience.