SEIZURES, EPILEPSY AND
One in four children with an Autism Spectrum Disorders will develop seizures. These may not necessarily
begin in early childhood, but can start as late as adolescence.
Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain
and are a common comborbid disorder with autism
syndrome. There is usually a temporary period of unconsciousness,
a body convulsion, unusual movements, or staring spells. Sometimes
a contributing factor is a lack of sleep or a high fever.
what is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic condition produced by temporary
changes in the electrical function of the brain, causing seizures
which affect awareness, movement, or sensation. Before a seizure
some may get a feeling of unease called an aura. With medication,
most patients with epilepsy who are otherwise healthy are able to
live full and productive lives. However, some patients’ lives are
devastated by frequent, uncontrollable seizures or associated disabilities.
Not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy. Epilepsy is a long-term,
ongoing chronic disorder that causes repeated seizures if it is
not treated. It may contribute to, or even cause, brain injury but
may also develop after a brain injury.
There are two major types of seizures. The first type, a general
seizure, begins on both sides of the brain. Full convulsions or
brief staring episodes are often the result. The second type, known
as a partial seizure, originates in one region of the brain. In
a simple partial seizure, the seizure related brain messages remain
localized so that one experiences a feeling, sensation, movement,
or other symptom without any change in the level of awareness. Some
may suddenly become confused, fumble, wander or repeat inappropriate
words or phrases.
treatment of seizures and epilepsy
An electroencephalogram, or EEG, records the electric
currents in the brain through electrodes applied to the scalp and
can help to confirm the diagnosis of seizures or epilepsy. There
is no cure but anticonvulsant medications are the most common treatment.
The dosage of the medication is adjusted so that the least possible
amount of medication will be used to be effective. A medication
must be taken when specified to maintain a constant level in the
blood. A regular blood test is usually done to measure the amount
of drug in the blood stream. Too much may have side effects such
as dizziness or an upset stomach. Too low and there may be a risk
of seizures. Parents should keep track of the frequency of their
child's seizures and notify the doctor or nurse of medication side
effects in case the medication needs adjusting.
Interactions may occur between an anticonvulsant
and other medications. It is important to tell any doctor prescribing
medication that your child is also taking anticonvulsants. Surgery,
which is another treatment option, is generally not performed unless
drug treatment has failed. For some, other treatments may include
a ketogenic diet (high in fats and oils, low in carbohydrates) and
what to do during a seizure
For a tonic-clonic seizure (grand mal, convulsion)
you should get the child into a lying position and then onto one
side. Place something soft under the head. Loosen tight clothing.
Do not restrain the arms or legs. Do not put anything into the mouth.
The seizure itself should only last a few minutes. Afterwards the
child may be very sleepy and confused and should be talked to in
a calm and quiet manner. A trip to the hospital is usually not necessary
unless there has been an injury, the seizure itself lasts for more
than ten minutes, or if one seizure goes into another without recovery.
If a person has a partial seizure, stay with them, talk calmly,
and protect them from self-injury. Do not restrain them. They may
be able to respond to simple commands such as “sit down”. After
the seizure explain where you are and what has happened.
puberty and seizures
Seizures may begin in the teenage years and some
theorize this is due to hormonal changes in the body with the onset
of puberty. Parents should be on the look out for this as the seizures
may not be the highly noticeable convulsions but a partial seizure.
Some possible symptoms include:
• Behavioral issues such as aggression, self-injury,
and emotional outbursts
• Regression or lack of advance in school performance
• Regression or lack of advance in cognition.
If seizures are suspected, an EEG can be used
to confirm or rule out seizures.
living with epilepsy AND AUTISM
Having to cope with epilepsy as well as other
problems arising from an Autism Spectrum Disorder is not easy.
But there are steps parents can take to minimize the effects of
• Ensure medication is taken on time
• Make sure your child avoids alcohol, coffee and other stimulants
as they get older
• Take steps to ensure your child sleeps well
• Minimize conditions that trigger seizures such as stress
• Make sure your child wears a Medic-Alert bracelet
• Get medical advice before a teenage child starts driving.
Inform your family, school teachers and friends openly about epilepsy.
They will feel more comfortable around your child and be able to
assist if your child has a seizure.
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Free Documentation. It is derivative of an autism and Asperger's
syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org