Adhd Vs Autisim In Girls
Medical Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Im just a mom of daughters with ADHD and autism.
Always, always speak with your daughters medical team to determine any applicable diagnosis.
I have done a lot of research on ADHD in girls, because I have ADHD and so far 2 out of 3 daughters of mine have ADHD. Still, everything I share is based in my own experience and that of my children.
I hope if youre a parent of a daughter with ADHD or suspected ADHD, youll find this helpful, too!
A Quick Overview Of Autism
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means thereâs a wide range and variation of symptoms.1 Itâs mostly characterized by a difficulty with social communication, a habit of repetitive behaviors, and a narrow focus of interests.
Additionally, Autistic people might have delay in the following developments:
- Language and communication
- Learning skills
Strong emotional reactions – like stress, worry, anxiety or fear – arenât uncommon either.
Important note: The societal and pop cultural presentation of people with ASD is that of Sheldon Cooper or Raymond Babbitt from Rain Man: socially awkward, un-empathetic, and highly intelligent white men. While these depictions of ASD arenât altogether wrong, they lead to a misconception of ASD, as these specific presentations are uncommon. Many people with ASD – especially women – can be highly empathetic, and while they might feel stressed and overwhelmed by social interactions, many have mastered the art of adaptation, or masking.
ASD masking is a very common phenomenon and thus leads to a gender gap in diagnosis. Furthermore, adults who have lived with the condition all their lives might not even know about it themselves.
How To Spot The Difference
Given the high level of overlap and tendency for a person to have both ADHD and Autistic traits, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Here are some considerations the clinician should have in mind when working with a suspected ADHD/Autism client.
In order to tease out criteria A of Autism , youll need to spend time here teasing out the nature of the social difficulties, as Criteria A items for Autism can look like ADHD social difficulties and vice-versa. While both groups experience social difficulties, they differ in nature. Here are some things to be considering:
What are the underlying mechanisms behind social difficulties? Sokolova et al., 2017 found that difficulty socializing was more connected to impulsivity and inattention in the context of ADHD. While for Autistics, the social challenges are connected to difficulty interpreting social cues. ADHDers will be able to read social cues when they can focus. Autists have more inherent difficulty with doing this intuitively.
Other social differences may include: ADHDers are more likely to talk excessively, interrupt others and not listen to what is being said, while Autistics are more likely to struggle with back-and-forth conversation and use language repetitively or robotically .
Social Motivation: On average ADHDers tend to have more social motivation than Autistics.
Assess How the Person Navigates Disruptions to Routine
Repetitive Behaviors vs. Hyperactive
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Adhd And Autism Both Fall In The Same Category: Neurodevelopmental Disorders
The term neurodevelopmental disorder refers to various conditions in which differences in brain development can lead to challenges in areas such as learning, socialization, motor development, and executive functioning, explains Dr. Alex Klein, Psy.D., a Bay Area therapist and a Healthline advisor who specializes in neurodevelopmental disorders.
ADHD and autism alongside other neurodevelopmental disorders, from dyslexia to Down syndrome stem from variations in how the brain processes information. ADHD is diagnosed when a person exhibits difficulty controlling attention, and often, hyperactivity autism is diagnosed when a person demonstrates marked differences in communication and other idiosyncratic behavior. While the vast majority of people with ADHD arent on the autism spectrum, approximately one-third of autistic people have ADHD.
People dont develop autism or ADHD theyre born with it. In 2019, researchers in Denmark discovered a genetic mutation linked to both autism and ADHD. This isnt surprising, as both conditions can run in families. It’s not uncommon for a parent to come in to have their child assessed only to realize they also share the same or a similar condition, says Dr. Klein.
Both people with ADHD and autism tend to be outside the box thinkers, adds Amanda Morin, a former special education teacher and Associate Director of Thought Leadership & Expertise for Understood.
What Is Adhd Stimming
When a kid or adult engages in a self-stimulatory activity, also known as stimming or fidgeting to focus, they do this to comfort themselves or to remain engaged in a scenario. Many people think that only those with autism engage in self-stimulatory actions. This stimming entails behaviors like biting ones nails, licking ones lips, and chewing on items.
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Are Adhd And Autism The Same
ADHD and autism spectrum conditions are connected in several ways. Despite not being on the autistic spectrum, ADHD shares several symptoms with autism. Additionally, the likelihood of getting one of these disorders increases if you have the other. The way that experts view the connection between autism and ADHD has altered.
Asd And Adhd Comorbidity: What Are We Talking About
- Service universitaire de Psychiatrie de l’Enfant et de l’Adolescent, Centre hospitalier Intercomunal de Créteil, Créteil, France
According to the scientific literature, 50 to 70% of individuals with autism spectrum disorder also present with comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder . From a clinical perspective, this high rate of comorbidity is intriguing. What is the real significance of this dual diagnosis? Is ADHD in fact always present in such cases? Might the attentional impairment reported among our ASD patients actually be a distinct trait of their ASDnamely, impaired joint attentionrather than an ADHD attention deficit? Could their agitation be the consequence of this joint attention impairment or related to a physical restlessness etiologically very different from the agitation typical of ADHD? The neurobiological reality of ASD-ADHD comorbidity is a subject of debate, and amphetamine-based treatment can have paradoxical or undesirable effects in the ASD population. Consequently, does a dual diagnosis, notwithstanding its currency in the literature, prevent us from shedding sufficient light on major physiopathologic questions raised by the clinical picture of ASD?
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Dual Diagnosis: A Possibility
The diagnosis of either of the two- autism spectrum disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder- can not be given without consulting a mental health expert or general physician. If you feel that your child might be suffering, it is advised to consult your pediatrician, who might guide you to a specialist in the field.
To diagnose autism spectrum disorder, behavioural checklists, surveys, interviews and observation of activities are seen. To diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, pattern of forgetfulness, distracted behaviour, restless and impulsive behaviour, etc are seen.
In this case too, checklists, interviews, questionnaire tools, consultation with peers, adults and teachers are used to support the diagnosis.
Both autism and ADHD may end up sharing some symptoms like inability to sustain social communication, and they may occur at the same time. While till the year 2013 American psychiatric association held the stance that Autism and ADHD can not be comorbid disorders This stance was however changed by them after the publishing of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders- 5th edition in 2013.
In this manual they claimed that autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may in fact be comorbid, or occur together in the same person.
Other Helpful Tips To Help Manage Adhd
- Food/drink Caffeine consumption should be avoided later in the day.
- Routine Its incredibly helpful to establish a structure within daily activities. This keeps a persons focus on track and helps to keep them integrated into school activities with other students rather than being pulled out for disruption.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Acknowledge successes and small accomplishments.
We will also provide maintenance to see that the patient is showing improvement with medications, therapy, and school adjustments. Continuing to identify a path that works for managing ADHD is an ongoing process.
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How Are Autism And Adhd Similar
As you can see, ASD and ADHD have several similarities. Neither of them has a single, definitive test, which can make them difficult to diagnose, and both disorders can show up in girls differently than they do in boys.
In both cases, children often struggle with school. They may have a hard time learning about things that they do not feel are important or that they do not like to spend time thinking about.
They may have difficulty understanding and controlling their emotions, or understanding how things are related to one another. Emotional intelligence is something people with both ADHD and ASD often struggle with.
In both cases, they may struggle to relate to their classmates and to maintain long-term relationships. For example, children with ADHD and children with ASD may struggle with sharing or taking turns doing things that their friends would like to do instead of what they want to do. They may have a hard time with nonverbal communication or understanding subtleties.
People with ADHD and those with ASD may get very focused on an activity or topic they really like, to the point that it may seem obsessive, although children with ADHD often switch out these topics regularly , whereas people with autism tend to stay focused on these topics for a longer period of time.
Despite all of these similarities, there are key differences between ASD and ADHD. Understanding the differences between the two often comes down to understanding the root causes of a given behavior.
When To Seek Professional Treatment
If you are concerned that your young child might have autism or bipolar disorder, your first step should include a visit to the pediatrician. Describe your child’s symptoms, and ask that your child be evaluated for these disorders.
Be sure that the person or team doing the evaluation has solid experience with both disorders, as it is easy to mistake one for the other or to miss signs of mental illness in a child with autism.
Adults seeking diagnosis and treatment should document symptoms carefully, with particular attention to these questions:
- How long have these symptoms been present?
- Have there been cycling episodes of mania and depression? When, how often, and for how long? .
- Does the individual have suicidal thoughts?
- Does the individual have difficulties with social communication, symptoms of sensory dysfunction , or speech delays?
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Can You Have Both Disorders
Yes a person with Aspergers Syndrome can have ADHD. Nearly 14 percent of those with the condition have ADHD. The only way to determine which disorder your child is struggling with is by seeing a doctor. As a parent, you must take notes of peculiar behaviors to provide your physician this will help them make a diagnosis and start the proper treatment.
How Is Autism Diagnosed
Like ADHD, Autism cant be diagnosed with a medical test like a blood test or physical exam. Instead, its diagnosed with psychological exams and other observational signs. The DSM-5 changed the way autism is diagnosed significantly. Before the revisions, autism was broken up into different categories based on severity and specific symptoms. However, autism is so variable many clinicians believed the categories werent able to accurately describe autism as a whole. Instead, its now defined as an autism spectrum disorder, which encompasses the full range of possible symptoms and severities.
Its important to note, the criteria for an autism diagnosis looks at deficiencies and uses words like deficit. This language is debated because of the way it may impact people to learn they have a chronic condition that causes deficits. However, being diagnosed with a disorder doesnt mean you are doomed to be deficient, and you may learn to cope with autism on your own or with help in a way that allows you to live a productive and meaningful life.
Heres a breakdown of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5:
You must experience persistent deficits in three areas of social communication and interaction. These issues arent just specific to one context, like school or home. Instead, you will struggle with social norms in multiple settings. Social communication and social interaction include:
You must also experience two of the four types of restricted, repetitive behaviors.
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Why Are Adhd And Autism Misdiagnosed
ADHD and Autism are both mental and developmental abnormalities that start at an early age. Young children often show the signs of these issues early on in life, particularly when they reach school age. Because young children are still in the early stages of development, it can be difficult to get an accurate diagnosis. There are no medical tests that can determine if a person has ADHD or autism. So doctors and psychologists rely on psychoanalysis, questionnaires, and observable signs to diagnose these issues.
Adults are able to communicate their symptoms and perceptions more clearly than children, so they are often easier to diagnose when it comes to mental health disorders. However, people with ADHD and autism can begin to struggle with life at an early age if their issues arent addressed. For that reason, its important for clinicians to be able to assess and screen for ADHD and autism.
Autism and ADHD have other similarities that may make them difficult to tell apart without a closer look. Similarities induce:
The Influence Of Childcare And The Childs Environment
A third possibility is that environmental factors alone may be enough to trigger not just autistic behaviors, but also other maladaptive behaviors such as inattention. Autistic behaviors were observed in a study of abandoned Romanian children, conducted by Michael Rutter and colleagues . As well as cases with known genetic causes, in some cases, underlying social factors may predispose autistic symptoms. In this study, Rutter and colleagues noted a very high instance of autism in the Romanian baby cohort, which they put down to poor early care. These children exhibited typical symptoms of autism at four years old, but unlike cases of autism without maltreatment, symptoms by age 6 were much milder. This case is an illustration of how children who share severe autistic symptoms at young ages may have differing developmental trajectories. In this study, the symptoms of autism may have been triggered primarily by the early neglect, rather than by a genetic predisposition, for if a genetic predisposition was involved it would effect 6% or more of the babies, a very high proportion.
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Can Autism Be Misdiagnosed As Adhd
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder seems like its always on the rise. More doctors are diagnosing children as having this disorder every day. But does that mean theyre always accurate? No. Believe it or not, ADHD as diagnosed by therapists, doctors, and psychologists is not always accurate. In fact, its extremely common for individuals with autism in Denver to be misdiagnosed as having ADHD.
Many symptoms of autism spectrum disorders such as Aspergers Syndrome are similar to symptoms of ADHD. Because symptoms of Aspergers can be subtle and difficult to detect, the condition often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as another disorder, such as ADHD. Today, an overwhelming number of adults with an ADHD diagnosis are discovering that they are on the autism spectrum through self-diagnosis.
How Are They Diagnosed
If you think your child has either ADHD or autism, talk to your doctor about what testing they will need. There’s no one thing that can say whether a child has either condition, or both. You can start with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a specialist.
To diagnose ADHD, doctors look for a pattern of behaviors over time, like:
- Being distracted or forgetful
- Having trouble waiting for a turn
- Fidgeting or squirming
They’ll ask for feedback from parents, teachers, and other adults that care for the child. A doctor will also try to rule out other possible causes for the symptoms.
An autism diagnosis starts with a parent answering a questionnaire about the child, often about behaviors that started when they were very young. Further tests and tools may include more questionnaires, surveys, and checklists, as well as interviews and observed activities.
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Adhd In Children With Asd
A significant percentage of children with ASD seeking services at clinical centers present with comorbid symptoms of ADHD, with rates ranging between 37% and 85% across studies conducted in the United States and Europe . ADHD was the third most common disorder identified in a community sample of 517years old children , with 31% of the sample meeting full ADHD criteria and another 24% with subsyndromal ADHD symptoms. This is lower than reported rates of ASD and ADHD in clinic samples . Very few studies have looked at the epidemiology of co-existing disorders in pre-school age children diagnosed with ASD. Two year-old twins from the Boston University Twin project were studied by Ronald et al. for autistic-like traits and ADHD behaviors using Child Behavior Checklist answered by their parents. Controlling for cognitive abilities and socioeconomic status, autistic like traits correlated positively with ADHD behaviors , a lower correlation than described for older children. In a recent survey by Carlsson et al. , 198 pre-school Swedish children with ASD who treated in a habilitation center, were assessed for such disorders. They found language problems in 78%, intellectual disability in 49%, below average motor function in 37%, and severe hyperactivity in 33%.
What Causes Autism
The cause of autism isnt fully understood. Like with many disorders that affect mental health and neurodevelopment, its thought to be caused by a variety of factors. Like ADHD, there may be a genetic component to the development of autism, which means that parents with the disorder may have children and grandchildren that have it too. Researchers are also investigating potential environmental causes like early viral infections that may lead to autism in children.
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