Seizures are a common co-existing condition with autism, about one in four people with autism start to have seizures during puberty. This occurrence is thought to be at least partially due to changing hormone levels.
Seizures that are accompanied by convulsions are quite easy to spot in a child. However many seizures go unnoticed because of the mild symptoms or the complete lack of symptoms, these are known as subclinical seizures. There are some behaviors which can indicate the presence of seizures:
- Changes in behaviors, such as increased aggression, self-injury or melt-downs
- Slowing down or lack of forward progress in academic work as compared to previous years
- Losing cognitive gains
A child having a subclinical seizure may seem to be staring or in a daydream for a few minutes. The seizure can be over within seconds and although they were unaware of what was going on around them during the seizure, they quickly regain full awareness of their surroundings. This type of seizure can often go unnoticed because parents see this behavior as a symptom of the autism rather than a seizure. An EEG may not detect seizure activity, unless your child is having a seizure at the time of the EEG. If your child is suspected of having seizures, their doctor may order an extended EEG, where they are monitored for 24 to 48 hours.
Vitamin B6 with magnesium as well as dimethylglycine (DMG) are known to reduce or eliminate seizure activity in some individuals, even in cases where seizure drugs are ineffective.
Parents of autistic children should be aware of the possible positive and negative changes that can occur with puberty. Of particular importance is the need for parents to be aware of the fact that about 25% of autistic individuals may experience clinical or subclinical seizures which, if left untreated, can lead to harmful effects.