Some parents wonder whether their child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) may have some form of autism. And they wonder for good reason: Most. ADHD and autism can look similar in children. They can also occur together. This chart lays out the difference between ADHD and autism. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism can look a lot like each other. Children with either condition can have problems.
ADHD? Autism and What are
A good example of this distinction is taking turns. A child with ADHD may overstep their bounds or have difficulty waiting for their turn, despite intuitively knowing they should, while a child with ASD does not understand the concept of taking turns altogether. American Academy of Pediatrics. Children with ASD range in intellect from being highly gifted to mentally challenged, but all experience delayed social development and have issues communicating and socializing with others.
For instance, a child with ASD may regularly fail to respond to social invitations or during two-way conversations, have an unresponsive facial expression, avoid eye contact, or display otherwise abnormal social behaviors that make it difficult for them to develop and maintain various social relationships.
Symptoms of ASD show up as early as age 3. The CDC recommends doctors screen children for signs of developmental delays and ASD symptoms during their regular wellness visits at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months.
Children with other family members of ASD are considered high-risk and may be tested more frequently throughout childhood. If your pediatrician sees a potential issue during the screening, they will refer your child to a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist, or child psychologist or psychiatrist to undergo a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis. The earlier a child is diagnosed with ASD, the better. Parents can begin working with health professionals, caregivers, teachers, and other adults who interact with their child to ensure they receive proper accommodations in school and outside the home.
Children with ADHD have difficulty staying organized and regulating their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Depending on their presentation, individuals with ADHD primarily display symptoms from one of the below lists or both, in the case of the combined presentation:. ADHD can be diagnosed as young as age 4. Physicians, mental health professionals, and clinical social workers will work with the parent beforehand for a screening interview. Current research is centered around genetics, premature birth, brain abnormalities, and exposure to alcohol, tobacco, or lead during pregnancy as possible causes.
Despite popular misconception, ADHD is not caused by a high-sugar diet or socio-environmental factors. For example, children who are sleep deprived may become hyperactive; act impulsively and show low self-control; be irritable, moody, or stubborn; or become inattentive or easily distracted and make careless mistakes. However, these are all symptoms of ADHD as well, whether or not the child is sleep deprived.
When a child presents these symptoms without sleep deprivation, along with other ADHD symptoms, such as difficulty organizing tasks, paying attention, or sitting still, it may be time to seek out a professional for a diagnosis. As many as 80 percent of children with ASD have difficulty falling and staying asleep, and up to half of children with ADHD experience sleep issues. Problematically, many symptoms of ADHD and ASD contribute to, or are exacerbated by, sleep issues common to children with either or both disorders.
Fortunately, some of these issues, such as night terrors or bedwetting, go away with childhood, but some issues like insomnia persist into adulthood. The third column notes conditions shared by both. Dyssomnias like restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, or rhythmic movement disorder.
The percentage of children with ADHD who have trouble falling asleep sleep-onset insomnia is 15 percent; that number rises to 50 percent during their teenage years. Children with ADHD have difficulty calming down their thoughts and relaxing enough to fall asleep, so it can take them as long as an hour to finally fall asleep. Children with autism may develop resistance around bedtime, making it tough for them to similarly settle down and fall asleep.
Children with ADHD in particular toss and turn often during the night. Waking up early is a problem for children with ASD due to their high sensitivity. Light from the sun or noises from outside and within the house wake them earlier than others sharing the home. Such restless sleep prevents them from getting an adequate amount of REM sleep , causing them to spend more in light sleep which in turn is easier to wake from.
Because their sleep is less restful, and they fall asleep later than their peers, both children with ADHD and ASD have a tough time waking up in the morning. One study found 45 percent of children with ASD had difficulty waking in the morning. Sleep-disordered breathing describes abnormal breathing during sleep, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea OSA. However brief these apneic episodes, they result in fitful sleep. Sleep apnea affects 3 percent of the general population, 25 percent of autistic children, and nearly a third of individuals with ADHD.
Obesity is also highly correlated with sleep apnea, and occurs twice as often in children with ADHD. Autistic children get roughly 30 minutes less of sleep per night than their peers.
Quality sleep helps the brain form memories, consolidate learnings from the day, and regulate a host of other bodily functions. When an individual is sleep deprived, they have difficulty managing their emotions and focusing during the day. These effects of sleep deprivation can compound the developmental delay many children with autism already deal with.
Children with ADHD have challenges quieting the anxious thoughts racing in their minds before bed, whether from homework, stresses of the day, or anxiety and depression common co-morbid conditions of ADHD.
Modified-release methylphenidate, such as Concerta or Equasym, works for up to eight hours and so can be taken just once a day. Like with any medication, the pros and cons should be carefully discussed with your doctor before you start them. Also, your doctor will want to check your physical health and monitor your blood pressure.
People with autism can be vulnerable to the side effects of medication and so we would recommend that you start with a low dose and if you need to increase the dose, you and your doctor plan to do this slowly over time.
Your psychologist or doctor may also suggest some things that might help at work or at school, like setting reminders about homework or jobs on your phone or using a diary online or paper to plan your homework or household jobs. As such, some people may not have had an assessment of autism or ADHD until late in their adult life, or have difficulty in accessing treatment. Also some young people with autism and ADHD may have no local adult mental health team to transition to when they leave the care of their paediatrician or child and adolescent mental health service CAMHS.
We use additional cookies to learn how you use this site and to improve your browsing experience. If you consent, please allow all. Cookies set previously will still exist; learn how to remove existing cookies. In this section What is autism? The psychiatric manual DSM-5 offers some advice on this.
A change in sleep or eating, and an increase in "challenging behavior, should trigger an evaluation for anxiety or depression" in people with autism who have limited or no language.
But do the tools used to diagnose other psychiatric conditions work well when used with people with autism? Outside of a research setting, health care providers do not have "standardized scales" for assessing all other psychiatric disorders in people with ASD, according to the Interactive Autism Network study. A group of researchers tested a tool called the Autism Comorbidity Interview-Present and Lifetime Version several years ago; the tool would help doctors diagnose other conditions in people with autism.
They concluded the tool was reliable but warranted further study among people of different ages, intelligence levels and verbal abilities. Thanks to scientific advances, doctors have come to understand that the boundaries between different disorders are blurrier than they believed just a decade or two ago. Doctors will continue to use their clinical training and experience to sort it all out, the manual suggests. Thank you to the families of the Simons Simplex Collection who contacted us and who provided the idea for this article.
Skip to main content. Special challenges for people with two or more disorders Having a child with more than one disorder presents special challenges to families, according to several parents who participated in the Simons Simplex Collection autism research project.
Please rate the helpfulness of this article: Autism and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Does your child with autism have another psychiatric diagnosis? Take our nonscientific poll. J Autism Dev Disord. Research in Developmental Disabilities 28 Interview development and rates of disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 4th ed. Implications for research and clinical care.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and autism
It's been shown that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) share some similar symptoms. But is it. ADHD is common in people with autism. If someone has ADHD, they have significant difficulties with things like poor attention, over-activity and. Nearly a third of children with autism have ADHD symptoms, yet until recently, medical guidelines didn't allow for both to be diagnosed in the.