The Rangers Family Story (an excerpt from SPARK)

“Half My Childhood is Gone”: Growing up with Autism and Epilepsy

Abigail Ranger does not remember everything about her childhood. But she knows the outsized role that epilepsy played in it.

Ranger, who has autism and epilepsy, struggled with serious and hard to control seizures that began when she was in preschool. After a seizure, she would lose skills and even her memory of past events, says her mother, Denise Ranger.

“Half my childhood is gone because of the seizures. I got sick so many times,” says Abigail, who is 33.

About a decade ago, Abigail discovered the reason for her autism and epilepsy. She has a small duplication of genetic material on one chromosome. In 2012, she joined Simons Searchlight, a research program for people who have variations in genes and chromosomes that contribute to autism and neurodevelopmental conditions.

The Rangers also participate in the SPARK autism study, a sister program to Simons Searchlight. They hope to connect with other families like theirs. Denise would like to learn more about what the future holds for adults with autism and genetic conditions.

“I would like to know more about what is expected as you age. What should you be prepared for?” Denise Ranger asks.

Read the full Ranger family story on SPARK’s website.

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