International Epilepsy Day is observed annually on the second Monday of February to raise awareness and to promote understanding and acceptance. The theme for International Epilepsy Day 2023 is “Epilepsy in the Workplace,” which highlights the challenges people with epilepsy face at work, and the importance of creating inclusive and supportive environments.
The earliest mentions of epilepsy can be traced back to Babylonian tablets from around 2000 BCE, where it was referred to as the “sacred disease.”* In ancient Greece, the physician Hippocrates wrote extensively about the condition, and attempted to distinguish it from other conditions, such as possession by demons. The word “epilepsy” itself comes from the Greek word “epilambanein,” which means “to seize.”
Epilepsy and autism are two distinct medical conditions, but they can co-occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of people autistic people also have epilepsy. This overlap is more commonly seen in people with severe autism and intellectual disability.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurring seizures, which are sudden and brief disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. There are many different types of epilepsy, and the exact cause of the seizures can vary. Autism, on the other hand, affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that the symptoms and severity can vary greatly from person to person. It is important to note that while epilepsy and autism can co-occur, one does not cause the other. If someone has both conditions, they will typically receive separate diagnoses and treatment plans for each.
If you have questions about epilepsy, visit our friends at the Epilepsy Association of Western and Central PA.
** “The Diagnostic Handbook: A Babylonian Terrestrial Atlas” by Emma Wasserman, Brill, Leiden, 2000.