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Is Adhd On Autism Spectrum

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Adhd And Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thinking twice about ADHD and autism spectrum disorder

Can a person be diagnosed with ADHD and ASD?

More than half of all individuals who have been diagnosed with ASD also have signs of ADHD. In fact, ADHD is the most common coexisting condition in children with ASD. On the flip side, up to a quarter of children with ADHD have low-level signs of ASD, which might include having difficulty with social skills or being very sensitive to clothing textures, for example.

Why do ADHD and ASD coexist so often and what are the similarities between them?

Both ADHD and ASD are neurodevelopmental disorders . That means both conditions/disorders affect the central nervous system, which is responsible for movement, language, memory, and social and focusing skills.

A number of scientific studies have shown that the two conditions often coexist, but researchers have not yet figured out why they do.

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Development Of Language According To The Stages Of Acquisition

The development of both language and communication is an intricate process affected by multiple genetic and environmental factors. Diagnostic criteria for NDDs often include impairments in communication and language skills. These complex disorders are polygenic with a relevant genetic contribution to both types of skills. Language acquisition is the process by which human beings acquire the capacity to perceive, comprehend, produce, and use words and sentences to communicate. Humans’ the early years, beginning at birth, are critical to future development of the skills required. Language acquisition needs to be stimulated in every way to generate a solid base to build upon as the child develops. There have been numerous investigations in this area, and several models for learning language have been developed based on neural networks, computational models, and other connectionist approaches

The first cycle

What Is The Definition Of Autism

The American Psychiatric Association defines autism as a complex developmental condition involving persistent challenges with social communication, restricted interests, and repetitive behavior.

Because the levels of these challenges vary between individuals with autism, the term autism spectrum disorder is widely used to indicate that symptoms can range widely, while still sharing some fundamental likeness.

Symptoms may become visible when a child is 2 or 3 years old, but the full degree of impairment related to autism may not be apparent until the child starts school.

The main characteristics are:

  • Difficulty recognizing their own and others passions
  • Unwillingness to maintain eye contact
  • Poor skill in the use of non-verbal


  • Trouble making or keeping friends

The most repeated characteristic behaviors may include:

  • Inflexibility of behavior
  • Difficulty coping with change
  • Centering on single subjects to the exclusion of others, and demanding that others will be equally interested
  • Trouble in allowing changed routine or new experiences
  • Sensory hypersensitivities, such as aversion to flashing lights or loud noises
  • Repetitive movements of the hands and rocking backwards and forwards
  • Arranging objects such as toys in a very particular manner

Those with either ADHD or ASD can have difficulty focusing and communicating.

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Asperger’s Syndrome And Autism

Similarities Between Adhd And Asd

Since both ADHD and ASD can affect language, movement, concentration, and social skills, they may share similar features.

Sharing features during the early stages

In the early stages, particularly in children, both conditions symptoms can be alike and sometimes easily mistaken for each other. On occasion, some children cannot be clearly diagnosed as having one state and not the other or misdiagnosed with each other, but ADHD and ASD are two distinct conditions.

Difficulty processing information

Not only individuals with ADHD may have difficulty organizing their thoughts and ability to learn new information, but those with ASD may also take longer to process new data with much less accuracy than those without either condition.

Inability to stay still

ADHD sufferers are often hyperactive, fidget and have trouble sitting still. Similarly, those with ASD may sometimes display specific movements that comfort them, such as rocking back and forth or twiddling fingers. To some, these self-comforting ASD behaviors may be seen as an inability to keep still.

Difficulty following instructions

Teachers may comment that children with ADHD or ASD dont seem to listen as both may have trouble following directions or focusing on individual tasks, disrupting learning.

Have trouble relating to others

Those with ADHD and ASD may seem to be cold or cant relate to other peoples emotions or feelings, making it challenging to maintain relationships with others.

Diagnosis favoring boys

Demographic Data And Head Motion

Is Adhd An Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gender was not significantly related to diagnosis and groups did not differ on age . IQ was significantly higher in the TD group compared with the ADHD , which is typical in this population. Groups differed significantly on the ADHD-RS-IV scores . The ADHD group total score was significantly higher compared with that of ASD and TD children scores. The total score was also significantly higher for the ASD group compared with that of the TD group , due to the presence of ADHD comorbidity in nine participants . The inattention score in the TD group was significantly lower compared with that of both the ADHD and the ASD groups . The hyperactivity score was significantly higher in the ADHD group compared with that of the TD group . Finally, there were no significant differences between groups regarding head motion. Additional analyses including non-comorbid ASD and ASD with ADHD comorbidity separately are reported in the .

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New Autism Clinical Pathway Designed To Improve Care

An estimated 10,000 children and adolescents affected by severe forms of ASD and/or intellectual disability are hospitalized psychiatrically each year for dangerous, self-injurious, or aggressive behavior.

In a busy medical center, sensory processing, communication, and social difficulties can lead to staff injuries, excessive medication, and prolonged hospital stays, explains Sarah Kuriakose, PhD, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and clinical director of the ASD Clinical and Research Program at NYU Langones Child Study Center. Many hospitals cannot accommodate the needs of children with ASD/ID, but were helping to provide the tools needed to manage these patients, she says.

Three years ago, Dr. Kuriakose, Beryl J. Filton, PhD, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, and colleagues at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Childrens Hospital, joined with NYU Langones Child and Adolescent Psychiatry faculty based at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, which operates the only Childrens Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program in New York State. Together they devised the nations first clinical pathway to manage children with ASD/ID in a general inpatient psychiatric unit.

A new clinical pathway to manage children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities decreases hospital stays by nine days.

Leo Kannerearly infantile autism

Exploring Shared Traits: Is Adhd Different From Autism

Autism spectrum disorder is similar to ADHD based on the shared symptomatology.

A common challenge linked to both conditions is social difficulties. For ADHD in particular, children diagnosed with this condition experience social deficits and difficulty forming relationships due to traits such as impulsivity, and intrusive behavior during conversation or play. Whereas for ASD, social difficulties are usually due to communication issues, inability to understand abstract thoughts or behavior, difficulty understanding body language, and difficulty making eye contact, etc.

According to Karla Pretorius, a Research Psychologist and Co-founder of AIMS Global, a person diagnosed with ADHD struggles to focus on tasks for long periods of time: They are distracted by a thought, which can lead to a shift of their focus immediately from one task to another within minutes. Karla highlights the difficulty that many individuals experience in an effort to sustain focus. To get back to the task at hand it requires someone diagnosed with ADHD to consciously be aware of their shift of attention and reasons for this, she adds.

So, while a person with ADHD might jump from one activity to the next, a person on the autism spectrum is likely to prefer routine and display repetitive behavior. Both of these traits can easily result in similar challenges.

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Symptoms That Adhd And Autism Have In Common

The reality is that many people diagnosed with either ADHD or autism have overlapping or similar symptoms. In addition, people with both disorders can have difficulties that may not be listed as traditional symptoms but that can impact daily life.

Here are some of the symptoms and challenges that people with ADHD and autism often share:

  • Impulsivity: Including speaking out of turn and jumping up when it’s inappropriate
  • Lack of focus: In ADHD, typically being distracted by external events, and in autism, being distracted by your own thoughts and ideas
  • Problems with executive functioning: Difficulties in the ability to organize time, tasks, and projects
  • Challenges with social interaction and making friends
  • Learning differences and disabilities
  • Sensory challenges: Over- or under-responsiveness to light, sound, touch
  • Emotional immaturity: Difficulty in managing anger and frustration

It’s important to note that these symptoms, while they look similar, may result from different causes. For example, social challenges in autism may result from a lack of imitative speech or body language skills. By contrast, social challenges in ADHD may result from impulsivity, taking control, or an inability to conform to group expectations.

Developmental Period In Preschool Children

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In the field of psychiatric disorders there has been a traditional delay in the systematic research dealing with infants and preschoolers in comparison with that studying school-age children, adolescents, and adults. To facilitate research on the preschool and infant ages, the development of clear and specific diagnostic criteria that can be confidently utilized within standardized measurements across a variety of samples is essential. In 20002002, an independent research committee elaborated the first Research Diagnostic Criteria-Preschool Age , with the aim of promoting systematic study of psychiatric disorders in younger children .

The DSM model, with some revision to address the child´s developmental level, appears to provide a valid means of differentiating typical behavior problems in preschool children from atypical disruptive conduct that is impairing. Systematic research is required to standardize the revision of current assessment tools so that they can be adapted for use with preschool children and to develop methods that are more clinically sensitive for determining a child´s development level and for employing observational data in assessment .

Therefore, in young children, it is very important to recognize changes that may occur in the early stages of learning, especially in language acquisition and behavioral symptoms, which could already be identified as prodromal symptoms, followed by a correct differential diagnosis of these entities.

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What Are The Similarities Between Autism And Adhd In Adults

Both ADHD and autism are neurodevelopmental disorders that negatively affect brain development. They are disorders that have negative effects on the central nervous system. Throughout the years there are many scientific studies have been conducted on the coexistence of these two disorders. It has been stated that the frequency of co-occurrence is high, but a clear reason for this has not been revealed.

These two developmental disorders greatly affect brain development. The most important ones include the executive function of the brain. For example, focus, decision-making, impulsivity, and time management are some of them. In addition to these, many individuals have an inadequacy in social skills. When evaluated in terms of gender, it can be said that the two disorders are more common in men than in women, but the reason for this can be based on very different reasons.

The coexistence of ADHD and autism observed in adults is not as easy as it can be observed in children, but it is also not common. The reason for this can be shown to be that while autism is a lifelong disorder, ADHD symptoms can be controlled until adulthood.

Symptoms Of Autism And Adhd

Both autism and ADHD are described as neurodevelopmental disorders in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .

The descriptions of the two disorders don’t overlap at any point, so it would be reasonable to conclude that they are entirely different from one another. In fact, until 2013, it was not permissible to diagnose both autism and ADHD in the same person.

In 2013, however, dual diagnoses became an accepted practiceand the number of people with dual diagnoses grew. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that about 14% of children with ADHD also have autism diagnoses . More than half of children with autism may have symptoms of ADHD.

Verywell / Michela Buttignol

While the symptoms of ADHD and autism may not look the same on paper, they can look very similar in person.

Traits like distractibility and impulsivity, for example, are part of the ADHD diagnosis. While they’re not part of the autism diagnosis, they appear in most people with autism. Speech delays and idiosyncrasies are part of the autism spectrum disorder diagnosis and not the ADHD diagnosis. Yet, people with ADHD often have speech delays.

Both ADHD and autism are usually diagnosed in childhood, and symptoms are likely to continue throughout patients’ lives.

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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.

Accommodations For Aspergers At School

Pin on autism

Schools are getting better at providing services for children diagnosed with autism. Many schools offer pragmatic language therapy, which helps a child learn the basics of social interaction. Look for friendship groups or a lunch bunch. Parents should make sure that social skills accommodations are part of their childs individualized education program .

Many autistic children can lead independent lives parents and professionals can help parents and professionals can work together to help children advocate for themselves as they approach adulthood.

Eileen Costello, M. D., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.

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How Are Learning Disabilities Treated

We offer a host of treatment options for children with learning disabilities.

The PROMISE at Columbia program is the most comprehensive program in New York City for helping at-risk children to get the support they need to learn and have productive lives. For families already burdened, a one-stop program is the difference between getting lost and getting help.

PROMISE provides services that enable children to reach their full potentialall in one place. We address the emotional and behavioral consequences of learning disabilities and understand these issues can have the most devastating effects on families and school life.

We bring together an innovative team in world-renowned research facilities for our PROMISE program, which is poised to transform the way learning disabilities are treated and understood in the future. Our neurologists work with behavioral psychologists, special education experts, and speech-language pathologists to tailor treatments for children with varying needs. Treatments may include:

  • advocacy to ensure schools provide recommended services
  • behavioral approaches

Communication Differences In Adhd & Autism

Because of the neurodevelopmental nature of both conditions, communication is also affected but in different ways. Children with ADHD will likely:

  • Talk without pausing or ceasing.
  • Be active and animated when talking, sometimes disruptively so.
  • Not notice when they are disturbing others.
  • Interrupt others.
  • Try to have the last word in every conversation.

But while autistic children are equally neurodivergent, their condition affects their communication abilities differently. Children with autism will likely:

  • Struggle to express themselves, specifically when describing their feelings.
  • Not use gestures or body language when communicating.
  • Not make eye contact.
  • Not understand when to let another person speak.
  • Not respond to conversation cues or prompts offered by others.

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Sleep Issues In Adhd And Asd

Both ADHD and ASD have a high prevalence of comorbid sleep issues across major categories in the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 3rd edition mainly insomnia, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, sleep-related movement disorders, leep-related breathing disorders and, to a lesser extent, parasomnias. The details are discussed later in the section on shared pathophysiology. Children and adolescents with ADHD are found to have a variety of sleep problems with a prevalence in the range of 5074%, whereas the percentage of comorbid sleep issues is even higherup to 80%in children with ASD . There have been several studies using subjective measures and objective investigations to explore the association of sleep problems as comorbid sleep disorders, as well as the expression of intrinsic pathology unique to the disorder.

Comparing Adhd Vs Autism

Autism vs ADHD (The Difference between ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder)

ADHD is most evident during childhood when it is easier to spot initial signs like the inability to conform to conventional behavior at school. Children with ADHD can disrupt the classroom environment, making it difficult for them and others to learn.

Kids with ADHD can show extreme levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviors. They may have difficulty sitting still or find trouble focusing their attention on particular tasks.

There are three main types of ADHD with particular dominance in either one kind or the other, or a combination of both. The inattentive type is easily distracted and disorganized, while the hyperactive type constantly moves, fidgets, or talks.

Although a mixture of both types is typical, hyperactivity is the most common single ADHD symptom seen in preschool-age children.

ASD is a group of complex conditions in which autistic individuals vary in how they see, hear and feel the world around them. About 1 in 68 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with ASD.

Like everyone, those with autism have their own merits and shortcomings but are often seen by the outside world as physically and emotionally distant, socially awkward, and unable to communicate effectively.

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