Autism spectrum disorder in children with and without epilepsy: impact on social functioning and communication


Jeremy Turk, Section of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Division of Clinical Development Sciences, St George's, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8725 5531 |
Fax: +44 (0)20 8725 3592 |


Aim: To compare developmental and psychological functioning in two groups of children with autism spectrum disorder (asd), one with epilepsy and one without.

Methods: Sixty 7–17-year-old children in each group were recruited through a range of services in order to screen as representative a sample as possible. Parents were interviewed using the diagnostic interview for social and communication disorders (DISCO-11), and children were clinically examined and their medical histories assessed.

Results: The asd and epilepsy (asd+e) group demonstrated a substantially more even gender ratio, with a greater proportion of girls. They were more likely to have received later asd diagnoses and additional medical diagnoses. They also showed more motor difficulties, developmental delays and challenging behaviours, but were no more likely to be aloof and passive. The asd-only group experienced more abnormal fascinations with objects and used brief glances as a means of eye contact more than the asd+e group.

Conclusion: Results support important between-group differences with diagnostic and therapeutic implications. asds often present atypically in children with seizures. However, both groups showed widely varying social and linguistic presentations.