Saturday, October 26, 2013

Autism and Epilepsy Awareness Month

I was delighted when Lorrie asked me to submit a guest post to Nathan's Voice. As a person with epilepsy, and a fellow blogger, I am always happy to build bridges between the autism and epilepsy communities. This topic is especially timely as November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. I hope you take a moment this month to spread the word and raise epilepsy awareness. 

Epilepsy Awareness Month 

You may be aware that epilepsy affects people with autism spectrum disorders, but you may be surprised to learn that epilepsy affects more than 65 million people worldwide and more than 2.2 Million Americans of all ages. Since November is Epilepsy Awareness Month this is a great chance to get involved and spread the word. Here are a few ways you can make a difference: 
  1. Add your event to the Epilepsy Event Calendar 
  2. Share your story of living with Autism and Epilepsy 
  3. Share a Fact Sheet 
  4. Get your own Epilepsy Awareness Gear 
  5. Support an Artist with Epilepsy 
  6. Spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Google+, and other Social Media outlets 
  7. Tell a friend 
  8. Wear purple 
If you need more ideas check out our facebook page. Readers are submitting comments on what they are doing to raise awareness during epilepsy awareness month. The suggestions range from paint your nails purple to go to Disney for Epilepsy Awareness Day. Check it out and add your own.

Link between Epilepsy and Autism 

I think I might be a bit of a data geek. My first instinct with this post was to share some hard facts on epilepsy and autism. Here's what I found: 
Data from 2002 
A study using data from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, collected retrospectively from the year 2002, representing children with autism spectrum disorder showed approximately 15.5% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are also diagnosed with Epilepsy. This study titled, "Autism Spectrum Disorder and Co-occurring Developmental, Psychiatric, and Medical Conditions Among Children in Multiple Populations of the United States." was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in 2010. 
Data from 2003-2005 
As mentioned above, the CDC recognizes epilepsy as a "co-occurring condition" with autism spectrum disorders. Epilepsy, of course, is not the only co-occurring condition recognized. Utilizing data from 2003-2005, the CDC published a web article in 2012 that stated, "Among children with an ASD, about half had at least one of the three commonly co-occurring conditions: ADHD, intellectual disability, or epilepsy." 
Undetermined Data 
The Autism Speaks website notes as many as 1/3 people with Autism Spectrum Disorders are also diagnosed with Epilepsy. However, there is no reference notation to back this data up. I hope you found this quick look at epilepsy and autism helpful. Sometimes it is good to know where to go for correct information. Visit this link for more information on the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network

Take this opportunity 

I hope you take the opportunity that Epilepsy Awareness Month provides, to connect with other families affected by autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy. Clearly there is a need to build bridges between the two communities. We can support one another and share ideas on how to get the word out. 

About Jessica K. Smith 
Living Well With Epilepsy is a leading epilepsy blog that covers the full spectrum of issues faced by people living with all types of seizure disorders. We aim to inspire people living with epilepsy through a unique mix of news, personal stories, commentary, interviews, guest posts, and forums. The site was created by Philadelphia area-based writer, Jessica Keenan Smith.
Jessica brings a unique perspective, as she has lived with epilepsy for more than 25 years. She was diagnosed as a teen after having several grand mal seizures. In 2009, after more than two decades of living with epilepsy, she was ready to speak out for a cure. Jessica speaks on a variety of topics including: Navigating Social Media, Maximizing Your Child’s Strengths, Epilepsy 101: Raising Epilepsy Awareness. 

Jessica K. Smith Founder | Living Well With Epilepsy

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