Comorbidities in Developmental Disorders – Chapter 6: Autism and Epilepsy (ebook)


Chapter 6 of the book – Autism and Epilepsy: Comorbidity, Coexistence or Coincidence?

Many individuals with autism have epilepsy and many of those with epilepsy have autism. In 1908, Theodor Heller described a condition that he referred to as ‘dementia infantilis’ which is now considered an autism spectrum disorder. The rate of epilepsy in this rare disorder is extremely high. In 1932, Critchley and Earl described the coexistence of epilepsy and the condition that we currently refer to as autism in the ‘neurocutaneous’ disorder categorised as tuberous sclerosis (or Bourneville disease), and which we now know to be caused by genetic lesions on either chromosome 9 or chromosome 16. In 1943, Kanner described 11 children with his then new ‘autistic disturbances of affective contact’. One of these 11 suffered from epilepsy. In 1971, Kanner reported on a follow-up of the 11 patients; by now, two patients (18% of his original series) were suffering from epilepsy. Thus, in this seminal report, which defined autism, the patients already formed a clinically heterogeneous group – those with and those without seizures.

About the complete book

In the last decade the term ‚’comorbidity‚’ has gained popularity in the field of paediatric neurodisability, with the increasing recognition that many conditions are rarely present in isolation. Within this field, the term is often used to refer to the co-occurrence of conditions more frequently than would be expected by chance, which can include instances where one condition causes the other, where they share a common cause (for example, genetic), or where they are in fact manifestations of a single condition. Whether it is valid to use the term ‚’comorbidity‚’ in all these situations, and how precisely it should be used, is something that the contributors to this book grapple with in their own fields of interest. The contributors, all world experts in their fields, also discuss what we can learn from the presence of comorbidities, however defined, about the aetiology and treatment of neurodevelopmental disabilities. In particular, they demonstrate how our increasing understanding of the mechanisms underlying the common association of many ‘comorbidities‚’ is helping us to understand the natural history of these conditions and improve our management of them.

Paediatricians, paediatric neurologists, child psychiatrists, neurodevelopmentalists, and physical, occupational and speech therapists working with children with developmental disabilities.

Clinics in Developmental Medicine No. 187