In a defined geographical area in the south of the UK, 115 children with active epilepsy (i.e., children who had seizures in the last year and/or children who were taking antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)) were identified via a computerized database and liaison with local pediatricians. Eighty-five (74%) of the children (5-15years of age) underwent a comprehensive psychological assessment. Twenty-one percent of the children met the DSM-IV-TR criteria for ASD, and 61% of those with ASD had another DSM-IV-TR behavioral or motor disorder. The Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) was completed by parents (n=69) and by teachers (n=67) of children with an IQ>34. Only 9% of children on parent ratings and 15% of children on teacher ratings had no features of ASD. Parents reported significantly (p<.05) more features of ASD on the ASSQ compared with teachers. Factors significantly associated with responses on the ASSQ included respondent (parents reported more features), school placement (more features in specialized settings), and respondent by school placement interaction. Effective screening for ASD in children with epilepsy will need a consideration of the impact of informant and school placement on ratings. In conclusion, features of ASD were common in children with epilepsy regardless of cognitive ability. The ASSQ was a useful screening instrument in this population, and combining parent and teacher forms was optimal in terms of screening properties.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Epilepsy; Parent; Screening; Teacher.
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