The prevalence and clinical manifestations of epilepsy in 302 autistic and 237 dysphasic, non-autistic children were studied at the Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York. Epilepsy occurred in 14% of autistic children and 8% of dysphasic children. Girls were affected more frequently than boys (24% cf 11 %). The seizure types included generalized tonic-clonic, atypical absence, atonic, myoclonic, infantile spasms and partial. Infantile spasms occurred in 12% of autistic patients with epilepsy. The major risk factors for epilepsy were severe mental deficiency and the combination of mental deficiency with a motor deficit. When cognitive and motor disabilities were excluded, the risk of epilepsy in autistic children was only 6% and similar to that found in dysphasic non-autistic children. [1]

COMMENT. The rates of epilepsy reported in autistic children have ranged from 11% to 42%. Associated cognitive and motor deficits, a higher ratio of girls, and the complication of verbal auditory agnosia in some series might explain the higher rates of epilepsy. As a group, autistic children are more likely than dysphasic children to have language subtypes affecting central processing and a history of regression of language and behavior. Girls with autism are more likely than boys to have severe mental deficiency and a motor deficit.

Epilepsy occurred in 8 (17%) of 46 children with autism and deafness. [2]