Seizures are more common in both children and adults with autism. Both autism and epilepsy each occur in about one percent of the general population. Epilepsy rates among those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), range from 20 to 40 percent, with the highest rates among those with autism. Conversely, about 5 percent of children who have epilepsy go on to develop autism.
Children are typically diagnosed with epilepsy after having at least two seizures — uncontrolled surges of electrical activity in the brain. Children with autism who are older than 13 years and have low intelligence are at the greatest risk of having epilepsy,
A new study, published 4 July in PLoS One, breaks down this prevalence by age. 12.5% of children with autism between 2 and 17 develop epilepsy. Most children with autism in this group do not develop epilepsy until age 13 through 17.
Why Is There A Connection Between Epilepsy and Autism
A recent study by the Institute for Autism Research and Education looked at how social difficulties in autism may be linked to epilepsy. Social deficits present in autism include impairment in language, conversation, listening, eye contact, impulse control and repetitive behaviors.
The research showed that epileptic seizures short-circuit the frontal cortex , the part of the brain responsible for personality and social interaction. The thinking is that the link between autism and epilepsy may be explained by abnormal activity in the frontal cortex. This research also suggests that the more frequent the seizures, the more severe the social skills impairment