In some cases the ‘zoning out’ may be due to mild epileptic seizure in the brain. Though epilepsy does occur with some frequency in the autistic spectrum, I suspect it still probably only accounts for a fraction of the many altered states which many of us regularly experience.

“Seizures can cause brief changes in a person’s:

* Body movements

* Awareness

* Emotions

* Senses, such as taste, smell, vision, or hearing

“There are Grand Mal seizures (the ones we hear about most often which have the unconsciousness and shaking that we usually associate with Epilepsy) and partial seizures.

“In simple partial seizures, the seizure affects a small area of the brain. It lasts no more than a few seconds in most cases. Simple partial seizures do not affect consciousness. Sometimes the person just notices unusual feelings.

“In complex partial seizures, the seizures occur through a larger area of the brain. A loss of consciousness can occur. Sometimes the person will stop speaking, act strangely, or have repetitive movements.

“In secondarily generalized seizures, simple and complex partial seizures that start in one part of the brain can spread through the entire brain. Once the entire brain is affected, there can be a loss of consciousness and shaking of all of the limbs.

“For a person with epilepsy, certain things *can* (but do not always) trigger a seizure, including: “Stress; Lack of sleep; Infection; Starvation or dehydration; Alcohol; Flashing lights or strobe lights; Certain medications; Withdrawing from an addictive drug (including alcohol); and Fevers (in children).

“Asplings and Aspies have been known to zone out when overwhelmed and [that] has nothing whatsoever to do with epilepsy.”

Raven, Aspie from Canada

“They had me on Tegretol and Depakot in order to control the seizures but they kept getting worse. Then one of my doctors recommended doing an allergy test. It turned out I was extremely sensitive to wheat products and this would usually trigger a seizure. But this is just me. Not everyone who has seizures has a sensitivity to wheat. But I was reading that one out of three people with autism has seizures.

“With seizures it’s really hard to hide my ‘Aspie-ness’. My speech impediment becomes very noticeable and there have been times that I have been completely nonverbal because that was the area of the brain having the seizure. My neurologist said that I would have to monitor stress and lack of sleep very carefully to make sure that everything was kept on an even keel. He said that anyone with a seizure disorder needed to monitor stress and sleep whether they were on medication or not.”

Rachele, Aspie from USA


“Nonepileptic seizures are episodes that briefly change a person’s behavior and often look like epileptic seizures. The person having nonepileptic seizures may have internal sensations that resemble those felt during an epileptic seizure. The difference in these two kinds of episodes is often hard to recognize by just watching the event, even by trained medical personnel. But there is an important difference. Epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal electrical changes in the brain and, in particular, in its outer layer, called the cortex. Nonepileptic seizures are not caused by electrical disruptions in the brain. Nonepileptic seizures are classified into two major groups: physiologic and psychogenic.

“Physiologic nonepileptic seizures are caused by a variety of conditions that can be the result of sudden changes in the blood supply to the brain or in the sugar or oxygen levels in the brain. These include changes in heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmia), sudden drops in blood pressure (syncopal episodes), or very low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Other physical conditions, such as sleep disorders and movement disorders, may have symptoms or episodes associated with them that can look like seizures. It is important to get these sorted out by a physician.

“Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures seem to be caused by stressful psychological experiences or emotional trauma. Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures are one way that the body indicates excessive stress.”

Women and Epilepsy: Nonepileptic Seizures



  1. Tammie said,

    Hi my name is Tammie, I have a daughter who was just diagnosed with internal seizures, she has epilepsy, has multiple different types of szs.. I was wondering if their was any chance of u maybe sending via email some more info on this type of disorder, I would like to understand it more… She also has a vagel nerve stimulator because her seizure got so bad (grand mal) I would really appreciate anything u would be able to give me thank u very much…

  2. Ing said,

    Sorry to hear about your daughter’s seizures, that must be very difficult for you both.

    Unfortunately I cannot help you. This site is primarily about autism spectrum conditions and I only included some brief info on seizures because there is sometimes a comorbidity. I’m not at all an expert on such things and have no more info than the quotes I posted here, sorry.

    I hope you can find more information and from medical professionals or elsewhere on the web. Best wishes to you and your daughter.

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