ADHD vs Autism Spectrum Disorder
My name is Joanna Babinska, MS, NCC, LAPC. In my practice, I frequently meet families who are confused between ADHD, Aspergers and Autism. Even though very similar, ADHD and Asperger's are two separate and distinct conditions that happen to be found together much more frequently than would be expected by chance alone.
Social difficulties and interpersonal dysfunction mark both disorders: ADHD and ASD. Where is the line between those two? According to research children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) exhibit symptoms Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). At times it is very difficult for clinicians to differentiate between the two. Some children with ADHD have difficulties interacting with others and do not have appropriate social skills in order not to suffer rejection by peers . Even though very similar ADHD and Asperger's are two separate and distinct conditions that happen to be found together much more frequently than would be expected by chance alone.
ADHD can be recognized by: inattention (procrastination, disorganized work habits, forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch), frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one's mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations, difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and careless); hyperactivity (Fidgeting, squirming when seated, getting up frequently to walk or run around, Having difficulty playing quietly or engaging in quiet leisure activities) ; impulsivity (impatience, difficulty delaying responses, frequently interrupting or intruding on others to the point of causing problems in social or work settings, initiating conversations at inappropriate times, anger outbursts, temper tantrums, defiance).
Autism Spectrum Disorders: social skills (unusual or inappropriate body language, gestures, and facial expressions (e.g. avoiding eye contact or using facial expressions that don’t match what he or she is saying), lack of interest in other people or in sharing interests or achievements (e.g. showing you a drawing, pointing to a bird), difficulty understanding other people’s feelings, reactions, and nonverbal cues, difficulty or failure to make friends with children the same age); speech and language (delay in learning how to speak (after the age of 2) or doesn’t talk at all, repeating words or phrases over and over without communicative intent, difficulty communicating needs or desires, taking what is said too literally, missing humor, irony, and sarcasm; restricted behavior and play (repetitive body movements (hand flapping, rocking, spinning); moving constantly, preoccupation with a specific topic of interest, often involving numbers or symbols (maps, license plates, sports statistics), s strong need for sameness, order, and routines (e.g. lines up toys, follows a rigid schedule), gets upset by change in their routine or environment.
It is important to remember that tests alone are not enough. Diagnosis is an ongoing process that requires time and detail observation. Evaluating both ADHD and autism is a clinical skill based on getting to know a child and seeking a complete picture of his life in the real world, a global sense of a child's social and conversational abilities, as well as his play and daily living skills.
Although parents find it stressful not knowing the source of their child's challenges, there isn't always a definitive answer. Therefore sometimes it is important to put aside the diagnostic dilemma and concentrate on child’s needs and appropriate intervention right now.
If you find this article helpful and have some questions related to ADHD or Autism, please call me at (678) 862-6232 for a free consultation.