Childhood-Onset Complex Partial Seizures and the Autism Spectrum

I recently read of a study about childhood-onset complex partial seizures and the autism spectrum. Although the topic of autism and seizures interests me greatly, this one really caught my eye as my son has been diagnosed with complex partial seizures.

In the article, Characterization of childhood-onset complex partial seizures associated with autism spectrum disorder, researchers from Saga University in Saga, Japan examine the relationship between complex partial seizure disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

The following is the abstract of the article:

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has a close relationship with epilepsy. A previous study showed complex partial seizures (CPS) to be the most frequent type of epileptic seizures in cases of ASD. Patients with childhood-onset CPS were retrospectively studied to investigate the prevalence of ASD and to characterize the association between CPS and ASD. The study cohort comprised 86 patients with CPS manifesting at 1 to 9 years of age. Symptomatic CPS and Panayiotopoulos syndrome were excluded. Patients with ASD (ASD group) were compared with those without ASD (non-ASD group). Of the 86 patients with childhood-onset CPS, 36 (42%) also had ASD. This ASD group was predominantly male (68.6%), with higher rates of intellectual disability (69%), and reported frequent seizures (60% had monthly or more frequent seizures). CPS without secondary generalization were more common in the ASD group (69%) than in the non-ASD group (36%), as were frontal paroxysms on EEG (54.5% vs 30%, respectively). In the non-ASD group, 82% of cases had been seizure free for 2 or more years, in comparison to 50% in the ASD group. ASD is frequently associated with childhood-onset CPS. Male gender, cognitive deficits, frequent seizures, and frontal paroxysms are risk factors for the association of ASD with CPS.”

My son’s seizures manifested in the 1st grade and he was diagnosed in the summer of 2008 at the age of 7, about a month shy of his eighth birthday. When it comes to the risk factor he’s in the predominant group (males) and had frequent seizures prior to medication but did not exhibit frontal paroxysms on his EEG nor does he have an intellectual disability.

Unfortunately I can’t delve further into the research as the full text of the study isn’t available as a free download. It is times like this when I miss being a student that had access to a plethora of scientific studies. Perhaps I’ll head to the local public library this week and see if I can get a hold of a copy to read.

Photo: pablosanz/Flickr

About Melissa

Melissa is the mother of two children on the autism spectrum and strives to provide information about all aspects of autism through her blog, The Autism Education Site. Follow Melissa on Twitter. Like me on Facebook.

© Melissa Hincha-Ownby and The Autism Education Site, 2008-2014.


  1. This is really interesting. I knew that seizures could be synonymous with Autism, but I wasn’t aware of these risk factors. “Male gender, cognitive deficits, frequent seizures, and frontal paroxysms are risk factors for the association of ASD with CPS.”