Autism and Epilepsy

Epilepsy has a higher prevalence in children with autism spectrum disorder. While children without autism have a 2-3% chance of developing epilepsy, there is 30% chance that a child with autism will develop the disorder (Golnik & Maccabee-Ryaboy, 2010). If your child has been diagnosed with autism and epilepsy, there are steps you can take to help prevent seizures.

It is important to give your child’s medication as prescribed by your physician every day. Missing even one dose of anti-epileptic medication may lead to a breakthrough seizure. Associate your child’s medication dose with a daily routine activity that occurs at the same time every day to avoid missed doses. For example, a twice-a-day medication can be given with breakfast and dinner provided that the meals are eaten at the same time every day.

Sleep deprivation is a trigger for seizure activity. Ensure your child is getting enough sleep. Set a regular bedtime routine for your child by limiting the use of electronic devices prior to bedtime, reading a story and providing a calm environment. If your child has difficulty sleeping through the night, speak to your healthcare provider to rule out a medical reason for restless sleep.

Illness can lower one’s seizure threshold. If your child comes down with an illness, contact your primary care provider to manage your child’s symptoms. Keep a close watch for seizure activity and report any seizure activity to your child’s neurologist.

If your child has a breakthrough seizure, be prepared to provide as much detail as possible. Your child’s physician will ask for a detailed description, duration and activity after the event. If a seizure lasts five minutes or longer, follow your emergency protocol provided by your physician or call 911.