Study Reveals Link between Epilepsy and Autism

First Posted: May 20, 2013 08:27 AM EDT

A new study reveals that adults with epilepsy were more likely to have higher traits of autism and Asperger's syndrome, according to a news release. The research was led by Dr. SallyAnn Wakeford from the Department of Psychology, Bath University.

Not much is known about the occurrence of the neurological disorder autism, and it continues to remain a mystery of medicine. It impairs social interaction and communication skills. It also triggers behavioral challenges, as well as limited and repetitive interests. This disorder can go unnoticed for several years, and can pose a tremendous impact on the lives of victims.

On the other hand, researchers noticed that epileptic seizures disrupt neurological function, and this affects the social functioning in the brain, resulting in the same characteristics that are observed in autism.

"The social difficulties in epilepsy have been so far under-diagnosed and research has not uncovered any underlying theory to explain them. This new research links social difficulties to a deficit in somatic markers in the brain, explaining these characteristics in adults with epilepsy," Dr. Wakeford said in a press statement.

In the current study, researchers noticed that having an increased autistic trait was common in all types of epilepsy, but it was more evident in adults with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE).

A comprehensive range of studies conducted by Dr. Wakeford showed that all adults who suffered with epilepsy displayed autism traits.

"It is unknown whether these adults had a typical developmental period during childhood or whether they were predisposed to having autistic traits before the onset of their epilepsy. However what is known is that the social components of autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy may be explained by social cognitive differences, which have largely been unrecognised until now."

The new finding could offer improved treatment for those suffering with epilepsy and autism.

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