Psychopathological symptoms in children and adolescents diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders with comorbid epilepsy - case report

Żaneta Brudkowska 1 , Katarzyna Jusiak 2 , Michał Próchnicki 1 , 2 , Beata Gołębiowska 3 , Justyna Morylowska-Topolska 1 , Ewelina Dziwota 4 , Paweł Pawełczak 5 , 6 ,  and Hanna Karakuła-Juchnowicz 1 , 2
  • 1 Department of Clinical Neuropsychiatry, Medical University of Lublin
  • 2 Clinic of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Early Intervention, Medical University of Lublin
  • 3 Department of Neurology III Chair of Pediatrics, Medical University of Lublin.
  • 4 II Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Medical University of Lublin
  • 5 Health Care Unit, District Hospital in Sochaczew.
  • 6 Health Center of Western Mazovia, Ltd.


The number of diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is on the rise, which encourages the search for their causes spurs researchers to study co-occurrence of ASD with other diseases and disorders. This study aims at highlighting the importance of the clinical problem of autism spectrum disorders and its comorbidity with epilepsy. This is one of the most common co-morbidities happening to children.

Regarding the psychopathological symptoms, it needs emphasizing that both in case of an isolated ASD and epilepsy itself, the accompanying psychiatric symptoms are confirmed. The research conducted so far also shows that in the course of epilepsy in the child / youth, mental health problems are often revealed, particularly depression and anxiety disorders. Episodes of depression and anxiety disorders are also mentioned as the most common comorbid psychopathological symptoms associated with ASD. An accurate and rapid diagnosis of epilepsy can improve the functioning of the child in the family environment and can improve communication skills. It is also important for the overall intellectual and psychological development. Making a correct diagnosis of the problem is equally crucial as choosing the right methods of medical and psychological care. Moreover,, it determines the early use of adequate, safe and effective forms of treatment.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Charman T., Jones C., Pickles A., Simonoff E., Baird G., Happé F. Defining the cognitive phenotype of autism. Brain Res, 2011; 1380:10–21.

  • 2. Georgiades S., Szatmari P., Boyle M., Hanna S., Duku E., Zwaigenbaum L., et al. Investigating phenotypic heterogeneity in children with autism spectrum disorder : a factor mixture modeling approach. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 2013; 54:206–215.

  • 3. Grzadzinski R., Huerta M., Lord C. DSM-5 and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs): an opportunity for identifying ASD subtypes. Mol. Autism, 2013; 4: 12.

  • 4. DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association; [dostęp:15.07.2014],

  • 5. Won H., Mah W., Kim E. Autism spectrum disorder causes, mechanisms, and treatments: focus on neuronal synapses. Front Mol Neurosci, 2013; 05(6): 19.

  • 6. Hallmayer J., Cleveland S., Torres A., Phillips J., Cohen B., Torigoe T et al. Genetic heritability and shared environmental factors among twin pairs with autism. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry, 2011; 68: 1095–102.

  • 7. Lotter V. Epidemiology of autistic conditions in young children: I. Prevalence. Soc. Psychiatry, 1966; 1: 124–137.

  • 8. Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2008 Principal Investigators Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders—Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 sites, United States 2008. Surveill. Summ., 2012; 61:1–19.

  • 9. Baxter A., Brugha T., Erskine H., Scheurer R.W., Vos T., Scott J.G. The epidemiology and global burden of autism spectrum disorders. Psychol Med, 2015;45(3):601–13

  • 10. Mazurkiewicz-Bełdzińska M. Epidemiologia padaczki. W: Szczudlik A., Jędrzejczak J., Mazurkiewicz-Bełdzińska M. red., Padaczka Tom I. wyd.1., Poznań 2012; Termedia: s. 24-25.

  • 11. Canitano R. Epilepsy in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 2007;16: 61–66.

  • 12. Tuchman R., Cuccaro M., Alessandri M. Autism and epilepsy: Historical perspective. Brain Dev, 2010;32: 709–718.

  • 13. Amiet C., Gourfinkel-An I., Bouzamondo A., Tordjman S, Baulac M, Lechat P, et al. Epilepsy in autism is associated with intellectual disability and gender: Evidence from a meta-analysis. Biol Psychiatry, 2008;64:577-82.

  • 14. Simonoff E., Pickles A., Charman T., Chandler S., Loucas T., & Baird G. Psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders: prevalence, comorbidity, and associated factors in a population derived sample. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 2008;47:921–929.

  • 15. Witwer A.N., Lecavalier L. Validity of Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Youngsters with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Dev Phys Disabil, 2010;22: 367–380.

  • 16. Salazar F., Baird G., Chandler S., Tseng E., O’sullivan T., Howlin P. et al. Co-occurring psychiatric disorders in preschool and elementary school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord, 2015; 45: 2283–2294

  • 17. Robinson S.J. Childhood epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders: psychiatric problems, phenotypic expression, and anticonvulsants. Neuropsychol Rev, 2012;22:271-9.

  • 18. Grabowska-Grzyb A. Zaburzenia psychiczne w padaczce. W: Szczudlik A., Jędrzejczak J., Mazurkiewicz-Bełdzińska M. red., Padaczka Tom I. wyd.1., Poznań 2012; Termedia: s. 53-59.

  • 19. Torta R., Keller R. Behavioral, psychotic and anxiety disorders in epilepsy: etiology, clinical features and therapeutic implications. Epilepsia, 1999; 40 (10): 2–20.

  • 20. Su C.C., Chi M.H., Lin S.H., Yang Y.K. Bidirectional association between autism spectrum disorder and epilepsy in child and adolescent patients: a population-based cohort study. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 2016; 25(9):979–87

  • 21. Besag F.M. Current controversies in the relationships between autism and epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav, 2015;47:143–146.

  • 22. Turk J., Bax M., Williams C., Amin P., Eriksson M., Gillberg C. Autism spectrum disorder in children with and without epilepsy: impact on social functioning and communication. Acta Paediatr, 2009; 98:675–681.

  • 23. Smith K.R.M., Matson J.L. Psychopathology: differences among adults with intellectually disabled, comorbid autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy. Res Dev Disabil, 2010; 31:743–749.

  • 24. Stranga J., Kenworthy L., Daniolos P., Case L., Wills M., Martin A., et al. Depression and anxiety symptoms in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders without intellectual disability. Res Autism Spectr Disord, 2012; 6: 406–412.

  • 25. Bitsika V., Sharpley C.F., Andronicos N. M., Agnew L.L. Prevalence, structure and correlates of anxiety-depression in boys with an autism spectrum disorder. Res Dev Disabil, 2016; 49: 302–311

  • 26. Mouridsen S.E., Rich B., Isager T. A longitudinal study of epilepsy and other central nervous system diseases in individuals with and without a history of infantile autism. Brain Dev, 2011; 33: 361–366.

  • 27. Saemundsen E., Ludvigsson P., Hilmarsdottir I., Rafnsson V. Autism spectrum disorders in children with seizures in the first year of life – a population-based study. Epilepsia, 2007; 48: 1724–30.

  • 28. Bolton P.F., Carcani-Rathwell I., Hutton J., Goode S., Howlin P., et al. Epilepsy in autism: features and correlates. Br J Psychiatry, 2011;198: 289-294

  • 29. Kreiser N.L., White S.W. ASD Traits and Co-occurring Psychopathology: The Moderating Role of Gender. J Autism Dev Disord, 2015; 45 (12): 3932–8

  • 30. Rieske R.D., Matson J.L., Beighley J.S., Cervantes P.E., Goldin R.L., Jang J. Comorbid psychopathology rates in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders according to the DSM-IV-TR and the proposed DSM-5. Dev Neurorehabil, 2015; 18(4): 218–223.

  • 31. Mula M. Epilepsy: bidirectional link between epilepsy and psychiatric disorders. Nat Rev Neurol, 2012;8:252–3.

  • 32. Bilgic A., Yilmaz S., Tiras S., Deda G., Kilic E.Z. Depression and anxiety symptom severity in a group of children with epilepsy and related factors. Turk Psikiyatri Derg, 2006;17:165–72.

  • 33. Guinchat V., Cravero C., Diaz L., Perisse D., Xavier J., Amiet C., Consoli A. Acute behavioral crises in psychiatric in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD): Recognition of concomitant medical or non-ASD psychiatric conditions predicts enhanced improvement. Res Dev Disabil, 2015;38: 242–255.


Journal + Issues