Whether on the television or radio, in the last week news segments have highlighted a recent report that has found individuals with autism are sadly dying earlier than the general population. Whilst a number of factors could be at play, the latest findings suggest this is in large due to Epilepsy and suicide.
What Is Autism?
In brief autism is a development disability that will affect how a person communicates with and relates to other people, as well as the world around them. In fact, this condition affects approximately 700,000 people in the United Kingdom.
As a spectrum condition, all autistic people will share certain difficulties, but will be impacted in different ways with symptoms that range from mild to severe. In general there are three main areas of difficulty which all people with autism share: difficulty with social communication; with social interaction; and with social imagination. Some individuals may also have accompanying learning disabilities, and may experience over ? or under ? sensitivity to sounds, touch, taste, smells, light or colours.
Autism and Epilepsy
Unfortunately the link between autism and epilepsy is still poorly understood. In fact, it isn?t known whether autism or epilepsy is the primary or secondary condition, but in both the temporal lobe part of the brain may not be functioning in the expected way.
Despite not widely explored some studies suggest that epilepsy affects nearly 30% of those individuals who are autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients. These findings suggest that seizures can impair the neural pathways that are required for socialisation; however, as mentioned the full details of the links are still unknown.
Unfortunately seizures are often missed in such circumstances due to communication difficulties related to a young person?s autism.
Latest Report Findings
The charity Autistica have bought to light a study, named the Personal Tragedies, Public Crisis report, carried out in Sweden and described the problems cited as an ?enormous hidden crisis?. The study looked at the health records of 27,000 autistic adults and used 2.7 million people as a control sample for the general population.
The British Journal of Psychiatry suggested autistic people, with no other underlying conditions, pass away on average 16 years early.
Referring again to the Swedish study, carried out by the Karolinska Institute, it was found that those with autism and an associated learning disability pass away more than 30 years prematurely, at an average age of 39. In this group of people it was found that the leading cause of death was Epilepsy.
Following the report Autistica?s chief executive Jon Spiers said ?the inequality in outcomes for autistic people shown in this data is shameful? and as a result they are now calling to raise ?10 million for a five year research project.
Additionally, Autistica want the government to carry out a national autism mortality review and a petition demanding this action will be delivered to Downing Street later in the year.
Whilst these findings are deeply distressing for the 700,000 people in the UK with autism, as well as their families, it is important to mention that we have made monumental strides in the way we treat both Autism and Epilepsy in this country. The department of health are currently working alongside people with Autism, and their carers, to make sure they have access to healthcare with adjustments made for their conditions.
However, we need to speed up progress further, and with such findings making headlines we are certainly making waves in terms of bringing both conditions to the forefront.
More Information and Advice
These latest developments are a worrying factor for many individuals across the country. If you are concerned about Epilepsy, would like to understand the condition in more detail, or are thinking of purchasing monitors or alarms for additional peace of mind concerning seizures please do not hesitate to give our knowledgeable team a call on 0845 217 9952 or 01530 231215.
Alternatively you can take a look at our full range of Ep-IT alarms and monitors.