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Calm Waters


First Published Saturday, 3rd May, 2008.

Updated Feb 7th, 2023.


One in four children on the autism spectrum reportedly experience seizures of one form or another. They may range from full-scale convulsions to blackouts or brief staring spells. The spectrum of symptoms can make it hard to spot seizures, which can also be diagnosed through the use of electroencephalograms which measure changes in brainwaves. Anticonvulsants can usually control seizures effectively. Some of the most common antiseizure medications include carbamazepine (Tegretol®), lamotrigine (Lamictal®), topiramate (Topamax®), and valproic acid (Depakote®). It’s important to be sure that the right anticonvulsant is selected, since some can have serious side effects.


Approximately 33% of autistic people develop seizures upon entering puberty. The exact reason for the onset of seizures is not known, but it is likely that the seizure activity may be due to hormonal changes in the body. 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 cognizant of the fact that their child/teen may experience clinical or subclinical seizures which, if left untreated, can lead to deleterious effects.


Some parents have an EEG performed to determine whether their child shows any seizure activity. However, even if the EEG does not detect abnormal activity during the testing period, it should not be concluded that their child/teen does not have seizures. To increase the likelihood of detection, some are assessed with an EEG over a 24 to 48 hour period.


Often there’s a subtle change in mood/behaviour shortly prior to a seizure occurring, but it can be difficult to detect whether it’s a behavioural change or an impending seizure. Some of the medications prescribed(eg Epilum and Tegretol) have a behavioural effect as well as treating the epilepsy.


Some possible signs of subclinical seizure activity include:
· exhibiting behavior problems, such as aggression, self-injury, and severe tantrumming;
· making little or no academic gains after doing well during childhood and pre-teen years;
· and/or losing some behavioral and/or cognitive gains.


There is certainly a long standing link between seizures and autism. There are also studies that show a link between children who experienced infantile convulsions and a subsequent diagnosis of autism. My eldest son started convulsing at the age of 12 months(in his sleep). As a young mother, it was very frightening to witness. A Doctor promptly arrived at 2am and subsequent convulsions followed. In my son’s case, the convulsions were febrile and I was advised to administer 3 times the usual dosage of calpol to prevent further spasms from occurring. A spinal tap was duly performed at a Brisbane Children’s Hospital(mothers were not permitted to view the procedure understandably) and follow-up appointments were made. As is common with febrile convulsions, my son grew out of them by the age of 4yrs.


Children with Tuberous Sclerosis sometimes have both symptoms of autism and a history of infantile convulsions. Those with Landau-Kleffner Syndrome may also have symptoms of autism, on-going seizures and abnormal EEGs.

Further Reading:


Book “Children with Seizures”
Author:  Martin L. Kutscher MD
Children with Seizures: A Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Other Professionals (JKP Essentials): Amazon.co.uk: Martin L. Kutscher MD: 9781843108238: Books


“Epilepsy Action”-British Epilepsy Association


Epilepsy Foundation – USA:


Epilepsy Australia:


The EEG:  ElectroencephalogramTest:

Electroencephalogram (EEG) | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Common Questions About Epilepsy:

Epilepsy Causes:

Epilepsy Causes | Johns Hopkins Medicine


Medical Management:
Medical Management of Epilepsy | Johns Hopkins Medicine


Staring Spells: When It’s More Than Daydreaming:
Staring Spells: When It’s More Than Daydreaming | Johns Hopkins Medicine


Anti-Seizure Medications and Their Side Effects:
List of anti-seizure medication | Epilepsy Society




Latest Epilepsy News:

NewsNow: Epilepsy news | Breaking News & Search 24/7

Autism and Epilepsy: What to Know If You’re on the Spectrum and Have Seizures:

Autism and Epilepsy: What You Need to Know If They Occur Together

Epilepsy Nearly Doubles Depression Risk



CBT Can Alleviate Nonepileptic Seizures



Blue-Skies Research Finds Proteins Underlying Epilepsy, Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, I.D., Alzheimer’s & Huntingtons:



Epilepsy & Behavior: The Sexual Transformation Delusionâ:



Coloured Lasers May Offer A Way To Treat Epilepsy:



Dostoevsky Mice Cured of Epilepsy:



Comparative Effectiveness Trial Leads To Evidence-Based Care For Childhood Epilepsy:




Autism & Seizures: A Brief Overview:

“Autism, Puberty and Subclinical Seizures”:https://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/08/18/autism-puberty-and-subclinical-seizures/

“Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy Common in Idiopathic Autism”:

Treatment-resistant epilepsy common in idiopathic autism


“The Voices of Epilepsy


Seizures “Apprentice Star Katie Hopkins: Why I Kept Sandhurst In The Dark About My Epilepsy”



Tuberous Sclerosis & Seizures “Reigate Boy, 4, On Life-Changing Ketogenic Diet”



“Epilepsy: Text Reminder To Take Epilepsy Tablets”:



“BBC: Dangerous Myths About Epilepsy”:



“From Times Past- Gladiator’s Blood As A Cure For Epilepsy”:



“National Epilepsy Awareness Month: Autism & Epilepsy“ A Missed Connection, Causes & Descriptions & More:



“Girl Has Life-Changing Epilepsy Op”:


comments (3)
1. Publish A Book left…
Monday, 4 October 2010 10:48 am :: http://www.publish-book.com/

Very interesting, great list of resources, Karen

2. KetoSiska left…

Wednesday, 3 November 2010 8:57 am :: http://www.dietketogenic.com/ketogenic-d

My son had problems with seizures, and after trying different approches, we have been suggested to try out the ketogenic type of nutrition, and I can say that the results are very satisfying.