Adhd In Autistic Adults: Outcomes
Greater functional impairments exist in autistic adults as more ADHD symptoms are present. Thats according to a recent study involving 724 autistic adults who were asked about the frequency and severity of behaviors associated with autism and ADHD, their quality of life, and other aspects of living. In all cases, comorbid ADHD explained measurable variances in adaptive behaviors compared to controls.3
What Is Undiagnosed Aspergers
Aspergers is considered to be as the high-functioning form of autism and many doctors still use the term Asperger syndrome or Aspergers. But now all autism diagnosis is ASD. This was the unique diagnosis listed in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 2013 when all forms of autism were combined under one umbrella diagnosis, autism spectrum disorder.
Read Also: How To Make A Visual Schedule For Autism
Managing Autism And Anxiety With Therapy
When treating ASD in adults, medication alone is unlikely to mitigate the symptoms of concern. Other interventions are typically needed and may include skills training, environmental changes, behavioral techniques, and the use of sensory inputs.
Cognitive behavioral therapy effectively treats anxiety disorders and OCD in youth with ASD, especially in high-functioning individuals with adequate verbal skills. CBT focuses on changing how an individual interprets a situation with the intention of reducing negative feelings and unhealthy responses. CBT for anxiety in individuals with ASD involves:
- learning to differentiate between helpful and unhelpful anxiety
- learning to identify anxious thoughts and improve executive functions
- progressive exposure to feared stimuli
- interventions with parents
- practicing reciprocity skills to improve engagement with others
- visual prompts to help the patient cope with difficulties in abstract thinking
Daily interventions are equally important for helping an adult with ASD manage and understand their anxiety. The National Autistic Society of the United Kingdom7 details strategies like keeping a diary, using apps, and creating a meltdown prevention plan.
Read Also: What Is Level 1 Autism
A Quick Overview Of Adhd
Most readers of this blog are probably familiar with ADHD. The writers certainly are. Nonetheless, letâs define ADHD. ADHD has three main presentations:
- Inattentive presentation
- Hyperactive-Impulsive presentation
- Combined presentation
The predominantly inattentive presentation is characterized by struggles with memory, concentration, and attention. Those with the hyperactive-impulsive type often have difficulties with patience, staying quiet or still, and respect for boundaries of others.
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
Read Also: How Do Doctors Test For Autism
Having Very Focused Specific Interests
Struggling with ER doesnt mean you cant enjoy life, though. In fact, if you have autism, you often develop intense interests in particular topics.
For example, when you develop an interest in an area of high, you need to know everything about that topic. Or you may spend a lot of time listening to the same song or watching your favorite movie on repeat.
This can be fine in small doses, and it can also help you excel in areas that you really care about. However, it is important to keep this balance between having enough energy to focus on daily tasks.
Getting In Touch With Fellow Autistic People
Socializing and interacting with other autistic people can help you feel less isolated from others because they are in the same boat as you. Maybe you can go to a support group, or opt for online forums and chat groups. Mingling with other autistic people can expose you to more resources and can also help you understand yourself better.
Read Also: Has Autism Increased Over Time
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
ADOS is regarded as the best method or tool for diagnosing high functioning autism symptoms in adults. It involves a standardized assessment of a childs imaginative abilities and plays, and a persons social interactions to deduce whether they meet the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.
Even though there are certain sections that are designed to diagnose autism in children, these can also be used in evaluating signs of high-functioning autism in adults.
Do I Need An Autism Diagnosis
Some adults may question whether they need a diagnosis later in life. Some people self-identify as autistic without receiving an official diagnosis. Its a personal decision. What can be helpful in receiving the label is access to supports and services that may not be available without a diagnosis, i.e. an income support program that provides additional income if mental health issues prevent being able to work full time. Maybe you need a job coach, a support person to look in on you a couple of times a week, specialized mental health services, or supports in the workplace. A diagnosis can also provide peace of mind and validation that indeed, you do have ASD.
Self-diagnosis in the adult autism community is widely accepted. You can join a support group or get together with other ASD adults without a formal diagnosis. Pursuing a diagnosis can be expensive as most health plans wont cover the cost and it can be difficult to find a professional who is adept at providing an adult diagnosis.
Read Also: When Did Autism Become A Spectrum
Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder In Adults
Common symptoms of autism in adults include:
- Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
- Trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues
- Difficulty regulating emotion
- Trouble keeping up a conversation
- Inflection that does not reflect feelings
- Difficulty maintaining the natural give-and-take of a conversation prone to monologues on a favorite subject
- Tendency to engage in repetitive or routine behaviors
- Only participates in a restricted range of activities
- Strict consistency to daily routines outbursts when changes occur
- Exhibiting strong, special interests
Autism spectrum disorder is typically a life-long condition, though early diagnosis and treatment can make a tremendous difference.
Living With Adult Autism Tip : Improve Communication And Relationships
If other people have a hard time reading and understanding youand you themyoull likely have difficulty with relationships. But you can still find ways to nurture a healthy social life.
Consider disclosing your diagnosis. Talking about your diagnosis can be difficult and the social stigma attached to ASD may make you shy away from doing so. While disclosure is entirely up to you and your comfort level, it may help improve some relationships. Letting close friends and family know about your diagnosis can help them understand why you have a hard time interpreting their sarcastic comments, for example, or why youre distressed by sounds that seem normal to everyone else.
Note when youre experiencing sensory overload. Perhaps you find it difficult to keep up with everything thats going on in an intense group conversation. Or maybe something as simple as loud traffic or a barking dog is bothering you. Do what you can to minimize distractions. This might involve switching rooms or leaving a larger group for a one-on-one chat.
Look for common ground with the person youre talking to. Establishing commonalities can lead to more relaxed and enjoyable conversations. If you have similar hobbies, thats, of course, great news. Otherwise, you can look for other things you both like or dislike. This could be anything from a shared interest in cars to a shared dislike for loud noises.
Support groups for adults with autism
Don’t Miss: High Functioning Autism Late Diagnosis
Are You Wondering If Your Young Adult Child Who Has Adhd Is Also On The Autism Spectrum
Are you holding back on exploring coaching as a way to help your child succeed? Do you want to chat? If so, please to contact us today!
About Camille Harris
Camille is a Professional Certified Coach , certified ADHD coach, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker . She has worked as a professional coach and senior associate at LaMountain & Associates since 2005. Camille’s passion is coaching college students, adults with ADHD, organizational leaders, and other adults who are interested in self-development and maximizing their potential.
Common Signs Of Autism
Some of the more common signs that may indicate a person has autism include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Delayed speech and communication skills
- Reliance on rules and routines
- Being upset by relatively minor changes
- Unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells
- Difficulty understanding other peopleÃÂ¢Ã¢Â¬Ã¢Â¢s emotions
- Focusing on or becoming obsessed by a narrow range of interests or objects
- Engaging in repetitive behavior such as flapping hands or rocking
- Children not responding to their name by 12 months
- Children not pointing at distant objects by 14 months
Worried you or someone you know might have some of the signs of autism? The Ada app can help you check symptoms. or find out more abouthow it works.
You May Like: Self Diagnose Autism
Also Check: Autism After Age 21
The Relationship Between Adhd And Autism
When a school-aged child cant focus on tasks or in school, parents may think their child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder . Difficulty concentrating on homework? Fidgeting and difficulty sitting still? An inability to make or maintain eye contact?
All of these are symptoms of ADHD.
These symptoms do match what most people understand about the common neurodevelopmental disorder. Even many doctors might gravitate toward that diagnosis. Yet, ADHD might not be the only answer.
Before an ADHD diagnosis is made, its worth understanding how ADHD and autism can be confused, and understand when they overlap.
There are three types of ADHD:
- predominantly hyperactive-impulsive
- predominantly inattentive
The combined type of ADHD, where you experience both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, is the most common.
Autism spectrum disorder , another childhood condition, also affects an increasing number of children.
ASD is a group of complex disorders. These disorders affect behavior, development, and communication. About 1 in 68 U.S. children has been diagnosed with ASD. Boys are four-and-a-half times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Heres a comparison of the two conditions and their symptoms:
Difficulty Communicating And Awkward Communication
ASD can have a big impact on the development of your social skills. As a result, you may find some aspects of communication challenges.
Signs that someone is finding it difficult to communicate include:
- Difficulty reading social cues and participating in conversations
- Difficulty empathizing with other peoples thoughts and feelings
- Struggling to read peoples body language or facial expressions
- Using a flat, robotic, or monotone tone of voice that doesnt communicate feelings accurately
- Making up descriptive words or phrases
- Difficulty understanding particular phrases or metaphors
- Difficulty making or maintaining eye contact
Often, if you have high-functioning autism, you will be able to hold a conversation about topics that youre particularly interested in. However, you may find it difficult to switch topics suddenly or to keep up with spontaneous changes in conversation.
This can mean that you find it difficult to build and maintain friendships. That said, you may have some close long-term friendships that accommodate your communication needs. You will generally find it easier to communicate with people you have known for a long time and therefore understand better.
Read Also: Test To See If I Have Adhd
Why Are We Concerned
If a young adult has High Functioning Autism, but it is not diagnosed and/or treated prior to or during college, it will most probably adversely affect academic functioning and emotional/social well-being in college.
For some readers, I know that might be a strong statement to accept.
But cant a parent request just ADHD coaching for their young adult college student, and that will take care of things?
Well, no. But thats my next article.
The bottom line is that a combination of ADHD and ASD presents unique challenges for young adults. The challenges are not insurmountable at all! We ENJOY coaching young adults who have both diagnoses. Its so rewarding to see them grow up and mature, despite their challenges.
Speech And Language Difficulties May Present Themselves During Early Stages Of Language Development
Children with ASD may have a hard time speaking and communicating at the expected level for their age.
Even during infancy, you might notice that your child does not babble or coo in response when you talk and attempt to interact. By their first birthday, most toddlers can speak a word or two, but children on the spectrum often dont learn to speak until much later.
Sometimes, children with ASD babble and coo in the first few months of life, and then cease to communicate altogether. In these cases, all forms of verbal communication and normal language development and experimentation with speech abruptly stop. This can be disconcerting for parents and is often a sign that its time to investigate further by seeking professional help.
Even in cases where autistic children do speak and demonstrate pretty typical signs of normal language development, they often repeat unrelated words and phrases over and over and, in essence, speak without really communicating or conveying a feeling, thought or desire.
Early intervention is key to helping autistic children learn to communicate, whether it is through spoken language, or in more extreme cases, through sign language or even an alternative augmentative communication device.
Also Check: What Is The Symbol For Autism
Common Venues In Romantic Relationships Of Adults With Symptoms Of Autism And Attention Deficit/hyperactivity Disorder
- 1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Medicina Molecular, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
- 2Department of Mental Health, Universidade Federal de Minas, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
- 3Department of Psychology, Faculdade de Ciências Médicas de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
- 4Department of Pediatrics, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Introduction: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder figures among the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. Despite having opposite stereotypes, both ADHD and ASD compromise, though in different ways, skills such as social interactions, communication skills, and social thinking, which may underlie difficulties in romantic relationships.
Methods: We evaluated 306 adults about their romantic relationships and the intensity of their love. Participants were from one of four groups:, individuals with ASD-only traits, a group with symptoms of ADHD-only, participants with neither ADHD nor ASD symptoms or from a fourth group of individuals with both ADHD and ASD traits.
Shame And Distorted Perceptions About Asd
Many young adults are ashamed to admit that they are on the autism spectrum. At one time not too long ago, having autism meant that a person had very poor social skills, could not communicate or learn, had odd physical movements, and muttered strange noises. The definition of ASD is much broader than that now!
Heres the good news The publics perception of autism and neurodiversity, in general, is changing for the better!
The general public is starting to recognize that people with autism are on a broad spectrum. Thats why the condition is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder. A diagnosis of ASD includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified , and Asperger syndrome.
Some individuals with ASD are fairly limited in their functioning at least until they have appropriate treatment. Others have talents and strengths that many neurotypical people do not have.
In fact, just like people with ADHD, some of the most gifted people in the world are on the autism spectrum! Until there is wider acceptance of ASD and having a neuro-diverse brain parents and young adults are more likely to shun a diagnosis that comes anywhere close to autism.
You May Like: How To Deal With Autistic Meltdowns
Getting The Proper Support
The first step in helping your child get the proper support is getting a correct diagnosis. You may need to seek out a child behavior disorder specialist.
A lot of pediatricians and general practitioners dont have the specialized training to understand the combination of symptoms. Pediatricians and general practitioners may also miss another underlying condition that complicates support plans.
Managing the symptoms of ADHD can help your child manage the symptoms of ASD, too. The behavioral techniques your child will learn may help lessen the symptoms of ASD. Thats why getting the proper diagnosis and adequate support is so vital.
Behavioral therapy can be helpful for ADHD, and is recommended as the first line of support for children under the age of 6. For children over the age of 6, behavioral therapy is recommended with medication.
Some medications commonly used to treat ADHD include:
- mixed amphetamine salts