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Is Adhd On The Spectrum

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What Are The Possible Signs And Symptoms Of Asd Vs Adhd

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

Possible signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder may include when a child:

  • Seems disengaged.
  • Avoids eye contact and/or physical contact.
  • Has difficulty following directions due to speech and language delays.
  • Has emotional outbursts or tantrums.
  • Has anxiety, frustration, and communication difficulties.
  • Has difficulty socializing.
  • Shows self-soothing behaviors that are often repeated .
  • Has obsessive interests.
  • Has difficulty understanding nonverbal cues.
  • Has difficulty with safety/danger awareness.

Possible signs and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may include when a child:

  • Is forgetful and easily distracted.
  • Has trouble listening and following directions.
  • Shows frustration or lack of impulse control that can lead to emotional tantrums.
  • Has inadequate organizational abilities and difficulty completing tasks.
  • Has difficulty staying focused.
  • Has problems sitting still during quiet activities .
  • Has difficulty being patient/waiting for turns.
  • Is hyperactive.
  • Interrupts others and blurts out inappropriate things.
  • Has difficulty with nonverbal cues and personal space impulsivity.
  • Has difficulty understanding the consequences of actions.
  • Plays rough and takes physical risks.

Effect of both conditions on a childâs early life


  • Poor social communication skills and rigid behaviors, making it difficult to establish and sustain friendships.


Neurodiversity And Other Conditions

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that is to say, its symptoms, and associated behaviours and traits are the result of a persons brain developing differently during the key stages of development before they were born or as a very young child. This differs from mental illness, which refers to patterns of behaviour where a person experiences a state of mind that is different from their normal self.

With neurodevelopmental conditions, there is no bona fide normal state of mind to compare to, making treatment more difficult as it is hard to determine when someone is treated. The goal of ADHD treatment is to ensure that people with ADHD can reach their full potential.

Causes of neurodevelopmental conditions include:

  • Nutritional factors
  • Physical trauma

It is becoming increasingly recognised that, along with ADHD, a person may experience symptoms of other neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism, Aspergers, Tourettes syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder , dyslexia, and dyspraxia.

  • Approximately 1 in 2 people with ADHD have dyslexia
  • Approximately 1 in 2 people with ADHD have dyspraxia
  • 9 in 10 people with Tourettes have ADHD
  • 2 in 3 people with ADHD have autistic spectrum traits, and people with ADHD are 8-fold more likely to meet full criteria for an autistic spectrum diagnosis

Question: Ive Heard People Talk About Kids Having Mild Adhd Or Severe Adhd Is There Such A Thing As An Adhd Spectrum


This is a great question, and the short answer is yes. ADHD symptoms are something that exist on a spectrum or a continuum. But the longer answer is a little bit more complicated. There are two important factors to consider the type of symptoms a child has and how intense they are.

The main signs of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some kids have trouble in all three of those areas. Some primarily have problems with inattention. And others may primarily have problems with impulsivity/hyperactivity.

People often think of ADHD as being just one thing. To some it might mean the stereotype of the hyperactive boy who cant sit still in school. To others, it might mean the child who never seems to pay attention.

But no two kids with ADHD are exactly alike. Their symptoms can vary in type and severity. For instance, one child with hyperactivity might squirm in his seat during a lesson. Another might get up and walk around the room, touching everything in sight. So, you might think of the first child as having mild ADHD and the other as having severe ADHD.

This is why diagnosing ADHD can be tricky. ADHD isnt an all-or-nothing thing. And sometimes what looks like ADHD might not be the sign of an issue at all.

Most kids will sometimes get antsy and squirm. All have times when theyre forgetful, struggle to wait their turn, and are easily distracted. That doesnt mean they have ADHD, though.

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Having Both Adhd And Asd

Some people may have been diagnosed with ADHD and ASD, and research suggests that both conditions share genetic risk factors. Theres relatively little data on this phenomenon since the American Psychiatric Association didnt recognize dual diagnoses until 2013. Before that, diagnoses simply had a significant overlap in symptoms between the two conditions.

Studies have shown that up to 30-50% of people with ASD also have symptoms of ADHD. When diagnosed with ADHD, the occurrence of ASD symptoms is about 25%. The connections between the two disorders still require further research. Significant overlap can lead to a dual diagnosis, primarily because both conditions are related to brain development effects and affect the central nervous system.

Adults can be diagnosed with both ADHD and ASD, but it isnt as common to have a dual diagnosis as it is in children. ADHD tends to become less of an issue as people move into adulthood, while ASD is considered a lifelong condition.

In the last decade, significant research has been done that helps medical professionals provide a clearer and earlier diagnosis that allows families to address ADHD and ASD symptoms. A variety of therapies, special accommodations, and medication can help both children and adults recognize and better manage the symptoms. If you or a family member have concerns about ADHD or ASD, contact NeuroHealth Arlington Heights for opportunities for assessments and treatments for people of all ages.

Therapeutic Interventions For Co


Recent findings associate co-occurrence of ASD and ADHD in children with poorer quality of life and decreased adaptive functioning in comparison with data from children suffering from ASD only. Adolescents diagnosed with both ASD and ADHD appear to need psychiatric medication more frequently than young people with ASD or ADHD alone. Moreover, co-occurrence of ASD and ADHD seems to make individuals less sensitive to current therapies for either condition than patients with only one of the syndromes . Only a few specific studies on a targeted treatment for children, adolescents, and adults with comorbid ADHD and ASD have been performed to date. The improvement of current treatments will require a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying co-occurrence of ASD and ADHD (for review see 1, 81, 82, 175, 182].

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Why Parents Miss Signs Of Aspergers Syndrome

Parents may be slow to pick up the signs of autism enumerated above. A child with distinct special interests, like dinosaurs or cloud formations, may seem delightful to an adult, but odd to another 7-year-old. When a child goes to preschool, social difficulties become more evident. Typically, kids with behaviors associated with AS find it difficult to make friends. They have a hard time reading other people or understanding humor.

Most children with autism want to make friends, but frequently dont know how. Their poor conversation skills and difficulty reading social cues can lead to loneliness or a mood disorder as they go through middle school.

Differences Between Adhd And Asd

Despite both conditions sharing similar symptoms, they are two different disorders.

Ability to focus

While those with autism may lose concentration when doing tasks they dont particularly like, they can show intense focus and fixate on special interests they have. Those with ADHD are easily distracted and generally dislike any task that requires attention to detail.


Autistic individuals tend to be socially awkward with the inability to put thoughts and feelings together to communicate effectively and rarely make eye contact. Though on occasion, some with ASD can talk to great lengths but only about their particular interests.

In contrast, those with ADHD may have the gift of the gab, disrupting others mid-conversation and leading their own confidently.


Individuals with ASD generally prefer order, doing the same things repeatedly and dislike unpredictable changes. They find comfort in having the same daily routine, eating the same food or being severely attached to only one particular favorite toy. In comparison, those with ADHD can be disorganized, dislike repetition and often get bored fairly quickly.

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Pharmacological Treatment For Adhd And Asd In Children And Adults

A summary of the consensus reached regarding pharmacological interventions for ADHD and ASD when these conditions present as a comorbid diagnosis is presented in Table .

The pharmacological treatment for co-occurring ASD and ADHD in children and adults is no different from the treatment of each disorder separately. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines should be followed for the pharmacological treatment of ADHD as a separate condition medication is commonly offered to treat ADHD symptoms in both people with ADHD and those with co-occurring ADHD and ASD. ADHD medications should not be offered to treat people with ASD as there is no evidence for a positive effect in this population .

Table 10 Practice recommendations for children and adults with comorbid ADHD and ASD: pharmacological interventions

  • You can also search for this author inPubMed

  • Symptoms Of Autism And Adhd

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) & Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

    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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    Adhd & School: Assessing Normalcy In An Abnormal Environment

    Children with ASD and ADHD both have high rates of depression and anxiety. Impulsive behavior and deficits in planning are common to both disorders. Both disorders include problems with pragmatic language, as well as with cognitive flexibility. Both disorders are more often found in the presence of intellectual disability or more specific learning disabilities such as in language, reading or motor skills. There may, in fact, be some underlying genetic or other biological factors common to both disorders: In many families where there is a child with ASD, there is a higher incidence of other family members who have ADHD .

    Although we already mentioned that medical tests including brain MRIs are usually not that helpful in making psychiatric diagnosis, at a research level some interesting differences and similarities have been found in brain scans of people with these disorders. Note that these differences are not generally discernable on a single scan and so are not very useful when examining an individual patient at this time this is research data averaged over hundreds or thousands of test subjects.

    Why Use This Test

    1. Free. This ADHD Spectrum test is delivered to you free of charge and will allow you to obtain your scores related to inattention, forgetfulness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, developmental delays, inflexibility, and emotional dysregulation.

    2. Clinically oriented. The feedback delivered by this instrument is based on the work of M.D.s and is designed to deliver a clear clinical picture of the respondents current symptoms indicating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as measured according to standardized items.

    3. Statistical controls. Statistical analysis of the test is conducted to ensure maximum accuracy and validity of the test scores.

    4. Made by professionals. The present test has been made with the input of people who work professionally with psychology and individual differences research.

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    Assessment Of Adult Attention

    Most often, patients with Adult ADHD have already seen other doctors and sought treatment for other co-occurring conditions like SUDs, behavioral addictions such as internet use and gaming disorder, mood disorders, or anxiety. Both patients and their spouses or parents often complain about occupational difficulties , problems with organization and tendency to procrastination. Often intelligent patients develop complicated strategies to counteract their lack of attention and poor concentration to cope with the difficulties in school and college or at work, which often put a strain on their cognitive resources. Many will have faced repeated difficulties in personal relationships and have been frustrated by their repeated lack of success despite relatively higher intelligence and creativity, accompanied by demoralization and depression. Clinicians need to be aware that the common clinical presentations of adult ADHD may be different from the standard representation of the hyperactive child .

    Causes Of Adhd And Autism

    32 best images about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) on Pinterest

    The causes of neurological conditions including ADHD and autism are under constant debate. Some studies suggest a nature/nurture component as the cause of ADHD. The facts sustaining this argument are still being investigated, however, some medical professionals lean towards this theory. According to Dr. Tasnuva Sarwar Tunna, PhD, a pharmacist, scientist, and health coach, people are holistic beings attuned by the world around them.

    Dr. Tunna believes its probable that, to some degree, individuals with ADHD and/or autism have genetically inherited the condition from a parent. On the other hand, from the nurture perspective, some traits are a result of environmental influences.

    A child/individual with ADHD, ADD, or ASD will have high stress levels and anxiety which come out as hyperactivity, talking too fast and too much, behavior and learning problems, etc. If parents, school, and society create stressful situations and the environment is not calming and grounding then kids show more hyperactivity and other ADHD traits, says Dr. Tunna.

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    Adhd And Autism Overlap Significantly

    Of course, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder are two separate disorders. We all know that ADHD involves impaired functioning in the areas of attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, according to one study in Frontiers in Neuroscience, while autism spectrum disorder is characterized by social dysfunction and restrictive-repetitive behaviors. However, these same researchers estimate that 30-50% of those with ASD show ADHD symptoms , and a full two-thirds of those with ADHD exhibit symptoms of ASD. In other words, ADHD and autism symptoms overlap significantly.

    The same study shows that ADHD and autism, moreover, both usually include problems with attention, communication with peers, impulsivity, and restlessness or hyperactivity. Many people with ADHD also show the same obsessive tendencies that those with autism exhibit they also have the same difficulties reading emotion and participating in social situations.

    The diagnoses occur together so often, and exhibit so many of the same symptoms, in fact, that one team from the Netherlands proposed they were different varieties of the same disorder. Are we looking at one condition thats on a continuum, or two distinct conditions? I think we dont know the answer to that question, Geraldine Dawson, director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development told Scientific American.

    Can Add Cause Mood Swings

    Adult ADHD & Mental Health How to Manage Your ADHD Mood Swings. Part of living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as an adult is managing the mood swings that may come with it. Emotionally, there may be times when you feel very high or very low. But luckily, there are ways to cope with mood swings.

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    Emotional Control In The Adhd Brain

    The problem: A child with ADHD responds in overblown, extremely emotional ways to small setbacks or challenges that most children would shrug off. Perhaps she suffers from anxiety or worry due to school frustrations, or she throws temper tantrums that last hours because she cant regulate her anger. Long-term rewards are meaningless immediate gratification is everything.

    The explanation: The amygdala are two internal brain regions that are involved in emotional reactions and decision making. When flooded with anger or worry, these regions deploy bottom-up signals to the cerebral cortex. The insula, a region of the cerebral cortex, should then respond with top-down strategies and goals designed to inhibit an individuals emotional response in line with the goal. This is what helps you take a deep breath and think before acting on a sudden emotion. In ADHD brains, this insula-amygdala connection is weak, which can lead to a breakdown in regulating negative emotions. Emotional regulation is a big part of ADHD that has been traditionally ignored.

    Adhd And Asd: Diagnosis

    Thinking twice about ADHD and autism spectrum disorder

    A child with signs and symptoms of ADHD or ASD should always be evaluated and assessed for both. You may start with your pediatrician and ask for recommendations for specialists accordingly.

    For diagnosis of ADHD in a child, the specialist will ask the parents or guardians several questions about the child’s behavior. They will speak directly with the child. A specialist can provide an ADHD diagnosis only after a thorough evaluation and assessment.

    Similarly, for a child with autism, the speech-language pathologist or child psychologist will first talk to the parents. Next, they will speak to the child and make their observations. Parents will have to answer comprehensive questionnaires on the child’s behavior. The specialist will use more tests and tools and offer an ASD diagnosis only after a complete assessment.

    It is indeed possible for a child to have ADHD and autism. In such cases, your specialist will talk to you about speech therapy, play therapy, and special education for your child.

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