People are more likely to have epilepsy if they have certain other conditions (i.e. autism, cerebral palsy, learning difficulties or intellectual disabilities). This does not necessarily mean epilepsy causes these conditions or vice versa. Rather, it is usually an underlying brain dysfunction or brain damage that causes both conditions, although it is difficult to determine if this is the case. A person who has another condition in addition to epilepsy is more likely to have seizures that are more severe and difficult to control.
It is sometimes difficult for physicians to make a definitive diagnosis in young children. This is because problems may not be apparent or may be too subtle to accurately detect and diagnose at a very young age. As the child grows older, however, a more accurate diagnosis and prognosis can be made. Early diagnosis is crucial for early intervention.
People with epilepsy are also more likely to have mental health problems at some point in their life, with anxiety and depression being the most common.
Epilepsy has very different effects on different people. While some people have well-controlled seizures, others may have several obvious seizures a day in addition to being diagnosed with another medical condition such as autism or cerebral palsy. Therefore, every person’s situation is unique and each person has his/her own special needs.
Expand Conditions that Are More Common With, or May Increase the Chances of, Epilepsy SectionConditions that Are More Common With, or May Increase the Chances of, Epilepsy
For more information, visit the Autism Society Ontario website.
For more information, visit the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy website.
For more information, visit the Down Syndrome Association of Ontario website.
Fragile X Syndrome
Of all the people affected with Fragile X syndrome, 15 to 20 percent experience seizures. The individual may experience intellectual disability, autistic-like behaviours, strabismus (cross-eyed), enlarged head, slanted eyes, poor muscle tone, and coordination, as well as many other characteristics.
For more information, visit the Fragile X Research Foundation of Canada website.
For more information, visit the Ontario Association for Community Living website.
In some cases, the same brain damage responsible for the seizures, may also be responsible for causing specific learning difficulties. Generalized seizures (absence or tonic-clonic seizures) are more often associated with cognitive problems than are partial seizures (simple partial or complex partial seizures). Partial seizures tend to have more specific effects, particularly on memory and language functioning. Many learning difficulties can be overcome, using special education services, and close observation and monitoring of the child’s educational progress.
For more information, visit the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario and Ontario Ministry of Education’s Special Education websites.
The most characteristic manifestation of the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome patients die from inherent problems and complications within 10 years of its onset. The disorder often persists into adulthood causing a multi-faceted array of emotional problems in up to 25 percent of patients. Almost all patients continue to have disabilities, including learning arrest, loss of previously-developed skills, language difficulties, and impaired organization of movement.
Mental Health Problems
Anxiety and depression are the most common forms of mental health problems in people with epilepsy and they often coexist. To avoid these psychosocial effects, people must deal with the psychological and sociological factors which accompany a diagnosis of epilepsy.
For more information about Mental Health and Epilepsy visit the page on our site. For Mental Health Resources, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) website.
The disease progresses at different rates, depending on the individual. It progresses steadily without remission in all children. A wheelchair usually is necessary by late childhood or early adolescence. Breathing becomes difficult as the disease reaches later stages. The disease shortens one’s life span.
For more information, visit the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada website.
For more information, visit the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association website.