Psychiatric and Behavioural Disorders in Children with Epilepsy (ILAE Task Force Report): Epilepsy and Autism

Frank Besag*, Albert Aldenkamp, Rochelle Caplan, David W. Dunn, Giuseppe Gobbi, Matti Sillanpaa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A high proportion of children with epilepsy have autism spectrum disorder. Although estimates vary, depending both on the population studied and the definitions used, a figure of around 20% has typically been reported. Autism can have a major impact on the life of the child and family. Despite the importance of this comorbidity and although many studies have been performed, a full understanding of the possible links between epilepsy and autism remains elusive. In a minority of cases, for example in the Landau-Kleffner syndrome, the autistic features can be the result of the epilepsy itself. However, there has been a failure to demonstrate that the epilepsy itself plays a major role in most cases. The current evidence seems to point to a common underlying predisposing factor. The discovery of a growing number of genetic defects leading to both conditions would support this explanation of the link.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S16-S23
JournalEpileptic Disorders
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • autism
  • ESES
  • CSWS
  • epileptiform
  • Landau-Kleffner

Cite this