The reported prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in people with epilepsy ranges from 15% to 47%. Despite the high comorbidity, there has been a lack of systematic studies of autistic characteristics in epilepsy. Little is known about the relationship of epilepsy to the core characteristics of autism. The aim of this research was to measure autistic traits and characteristics in adults with epilepsy who do not have a diagnosis of any autism disorder.
We investigated autistic characteristics in adults with epilepsy and those without epilepsy employing the Autism Spectrum Quotient (group with epilepsy, n = 40; control group, n = 38) and systemizing and empathizing abilities employing the Intuitive Physics test and the Adult Eyes Task-Revised (group with epilepsy, n = 19; control group, n = 23).
Significantly more autistic behavioral traits, as measured by the AQ, were related to having epilepsy, but intact systemizing and empathizing abilities in these adults suggest that, in adults with epilepsy, autism-like symptoms may be present in the absence of wider cognitive profiles characteristic of autism.
Increased autistic characteristics found in adults with epilepsy without an ASD diagnosis suggest that epilepsy syndromes may incorporate behavioral aspects of autism in the absence of some of its core cognitive features.