Somatosensory evoked potentials in children with autism

  • HG Azouz
  • M Khalil
  • HM El Ghani
  • HM Hamed


Introduction: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder in the category of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), which is characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions, communication, and  severely restricted interests and highly repetitive behavior. Children with autism show sensory and perceptual abnormalities. They have either  hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity to sensory, auditory, and visual stimuli.
Objectives: The aimof thisworkwas to study somatosensory evoked potential (SSEPs) changesamong children with autism, and their relation to somatosensory manifestations and severity of autism.
Subjects: Thirty children with autism aged 2–12 years were included in the study, all of them fulfilling criteria of the Diagnostic and StatisticalManual ofMental Disorders (DSM–IV–TR).
Methods: All cases were subjected to thorough history taking including autistic symptoms and sensory abnormalities, comprehensivemedical examination, psychiatric assessment according to DSM–IV–TR criteria for diagnosing autism, assessment of severity of autism using Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) and measurement of somatosensory evoked potentials elicited by median nerve stimulation at wrist.
Results: Themajorityof the casesweremales (86.7%), according toCARS 53.3%were classified as mild to moderate autism, while 46.7% were severe. Sensory abnormalities were present in 56.7% of cases.
Somatosensory abnormalities were present in 36.76% of the cases. There was a statistically significant relationship between sensory symptoms with SSEP abnormalities (P=0.040). The presence of abnormal SSEPs was not statistically associated with higher score in CARS.
Conclusions: Children with autism have abnormal SSEP changes and were significantly related to the presence of sensory abnormalities, indicating central cortical dysfunction of somatosensory area. On the other hand, these abnormal SSEP changes were not related to the severity of autism.

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eISSN: 2090-2948
print ISSN: 1110-0834