Thursday, March 8, 2012

Deciphering the One-Two Punch: Autism and Epilepsy

EpilepsyUSA explores deeper connect-
ions between Epilepsy and Autism.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are ten times as likely to have epilepsy as other children are. And the arrow of causality flies both ways: several epilepsy syndromes, such as infantile spasms, if not treated promptly, result in ASD-like symptoms. Tuberous sclerosis also often starts with seizures, with ASD-like symptoms emerging only later. Only recently have researchers and clinicians from the epilepsy and autism worlds begun working together to explore the deeper connections. Their work is already shedding light on new paths forward for both fields and, most importantly, for the hundreds of thousands of children worldwide who bear both of these heavy burdens. My article about autism and epilepsy, Deciphering the One-Two Punch: Epilepsy and Autismis the cover story of the current EpilepsyUSA.


Jill McCollum said...

Gordy, great article, and great topic. It's a hard, hard problem, and although I know better, I still keep hoping that the neuroscience of it all will somehow come together to deliver an elegant and cohesive aha! that will lead to a solution. So many of the kids that I work with have both a seizure disorder and an ASD. AND children who have both often have a set of other individualities in learning and processing (for example, Landau-Kleffner syndrome) that don't necessarily line up with what we think we know about autism, and roughly cluster around the type of seizure disorder/EEG atypicality. Except when they don't. Add metabolic issues to the discussion (which appear to be relevant in both autism and seizure disorders, except when they're not) and sometimes it seems as if we're trying to complete what we think is a 150 piece jigsaw puzzle, yet the more pieces we use, the larger the pike of unused pieces grows. It's frustrating and exciting at the same time, because I have to think that we are getting there in some ways. From an "on the ground" standpoint (meaning not the benchwork neuroscience, just the things we can do to improve assessment, learning, access, language, behavior, etc.) I feel as if we are making progress. There are things we can do to help that we didn't know about ten, or even five years ago. But it's not enough. My very handsome and accomplished nephew got the 1-2-3 punch, I guess. He was born with Down syndrome, then developed hypsarrhythmia which then lead to autism, which turned out to be a far greater challenge than DS. Unfortunately, all of these things tend to affect sleep as well (in both parents and children:-) which I guess adds wrinkle #197 to the mix. In any case, you somehow managed to present the essentials of this messy problem in a way that was accessible and clear, as only someone who knows what Gordy Slack knows could do. Thank you. If you don't mind, I'd like to share this article with some of the generalists who are part of my kids' care teams, as well as with some of my schools and families. I didn't see any copyright restrictions. Is it okay?

Anne MacLellan said...

Excellent article, thank you so much for writing it. In my own adult son's case, I've found it very difficult to get a neurologist to even consider working with my very tall (6'8"), nonverbal adult son with severe autism (he developed epilepsy shortly before his 13th birthday). Like the above poster, my son has additional disorders which also complicate matters (atypical bipolar, seasonal affective disorder and is an XYY male).

In his case, there is a definitely a link between his seizures and behaviour. His group home staff can accurately predict an impending seizures 1 to 2 days in advance by worsening behaviour. Prior to a seizure, he becomes more obsessive, gets more 'stuck', is more irritable and 'not himself'. Recently they've begun to experiment to use his seizure medication prophylactically. They've had some success in preventing an impending seizure and altering this preseizure behaviour.

I'm glad to see this group of people are finally starting to get attention within the epilepsy community and that researchers of autism and epilepsy are finally starting to work together.

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How i got cured from PE said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mattias lang said...

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