International Specialisterne Community

Specialisterne Foundation

Specialisterne Foundation is a non-for-profit organization that works to enable one million jobs for people with autism and similar challenges. The foundation owns Specialisterne Denmark and the Specialisterne concept and trademark.

In epilepsy, atypical brain activity triggers seizures, various bodily sensations, altered behavior, and sometimes loss of awareness. Anyone can develop epilepsy and people of all genders, ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds can be equally impacted by epilepsy. The onset of epilepsy is typically in childhood and older adulthood.

To receive an epilepsy diagnosis, someone generally needs to have at least two seizures twenty-four hours apart, without a known cause.

Since seizures relate to brain activity, they can alter the ways in which someone’s brain communicates with their body. As such, they can result in a variety of physical or cognitive signs, including uncontrollable jerking of limbs, stiff muscles, staring, blinking, oral movements, temporary confusion, fear, Deja vu, anxiety, or a loss of awareness or consciousness. 

These signs vary, according to the type of seizures someone experiences. Most people who have seizures will tend to experience the same type of seizure repeatedly, so their symptoms will be relatively similar each time.

Seizures are typically considered to be either generalized or focal, according to where and how the seizure activity begins in the brain.

Generalized seizures are those that seem to involve all areas of the brain. Currently, there are six recognized types of generalized seizures. These include absence seizures, tonic seizures, atonic seizures, clonic seizures, myoclonic seizures, and tonic-clonic seizures.

Absence seizures, formerly known as petit mal seizures, are distinguished by staring into space and can occur with or without subtle movements, such as blinking or lip smacking. They may also cause a temporary loss of awareness. Generally, they last between five and ten seconds and they may occur in clusters, with up to one hundred absence seizures occurring in a day.

Tonic seizures tend to result in stiff muscles, usually in the back, legs, and arms, and they may cause altered consciousness. Since tonic seizures usually cause muscle stiffening, they may cause a person to unexpectedly fall to the ground.

Similarly, atonic seizures (also referred to as drop seizures) cause a loss of muscle control, typically impacting the legs. This loss of muscle control can cause someone to instantaneously fall down.

Clonic seizures typically affect the face, neck, and arms and are often related to the repetitive, jerking movements of muscles.

Myoclonic seizures generally present as brief, sudden twitching or jerking and typically impact the arms, upper body, and legs.

Tonic-clonic seizures, formerly known as grand mal seizures, are the most visually apparent type of epileptic seizure. They can result in a sudden loss of consciousness, as well as twitching, shaking, and stiffening of the body. Due to the sudden loss of consciousness and large body movements, tonic-clonic seizures may also cause someone to bite their tongue and lose bladder control.

Focal seizures are those related to atypical activity in one area of the brain, and they can be categorized as being either without loss of consciousness or with impaired awareness. Focal seizures are sometimes confused with migraines, narcolepsy, and mental health concerns.

Focal seizures without a loss of consciousness were formerly known as simple partial seizures. They may alter the sensations surrounding the way things smell, feel, look, taste, or sound and involve tingling, seeing flashing lights, dizziness, or Deja vu. They may also result in jerking one part of the body, such as a leg or arm.

Focal seizures with impaired awareness, formerly known as complex partial seizures, involve altered awareness or consciousness and may result in a dream-like state. Someone experiencing this type of seizure may stare and engage in repetitive movements, such as chewing, swallowing, walking in circles, or rubbing their hands.

Epilepsy can be related to a variety of factors, including other neurodivergencies (such as autism), genetics, certain infections (such as meningitis), head injuries, brain irregularities (such as brain tumors, vascular and cavernous malformations, stroke, and dementia), and prenatal/birth-related deficiencies or injuries. 

Seizures can be serious and sometimes life threatening, and immediate medical care is needed if someone experiences their first seizure, a seizure lasts longer than five minutes, a second seizure immediately follows the first, someone has a high fever in conjunction with a seizure, consciousness or breathing don’t resume after the seizure ends, or if injury occurs during a seizure. Medical care is also needed if someone has a seizure and is pregnant or diabetic and if someone continues to experience seizures, despite being on anti-seizure medication.