Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses Autistic Disorder, Asperger syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, all of which impact a person's social and emotional abilities as well as nonverbal communication. There are numerous parallels between ASD and ADHD, yet there are also variances.


More than half of all people who have been diagnosed with ASD also show evidence of ADHD. In fact, the most prevalent comorbid disorder in children with ASD is ADHD. On the other hand, up to a quarter of children with ADHD display low-level ASD symptoms, such as problems with social skills or being too sensitive to garment textures (See Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) ).


There have been multiple studies linking correlations between ADHD and ASD, but none of them have been able to narrow down why.


Both conditions may be linked to genetics. One study identified a rare gene that may be linked to both conditions. This finding could explain why these conditions often occur in the same person.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) stated for years that the two conditions couldn’t be diagnosed in the same person. That all changed in 2013 with the release of the DSM-5 where the APA states that the conditions can co-occur.


What are the differences?


It usually isn't until a child reaches around the age of 5 or 6 years old that they are able to be diagnosed with ADHD. This is because many children haven't developed enough in their prefrontal cortex and executive functioning skills to properly evaluate them.


Children with ADHD frequently struggle to focus on a single activity or task. They may become easily sidetracked while going about their everyday tasks. It is difficult for children with ADHD to complete one job before moving on to the next, and they are frequently physically unable to remain still.


However, some children with ADHD PI may get fixated on a topic or activity and hyperfocus on it. Although focusing on one subject might be beneficial, it may cause youngsters to struggle when asked to shift their attention to other things such as homework or household chores.


Children with ASD are often able to be diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3 based on interactions with other people and the environments around them.


Children with ASD are more likely to be too focused and unable to shift their concentration to the next task. They are frequently inflexible in their routines and have limited tolerance for change. This may include walking the same route and eating the same foods every day. Many people with ASD are either extremely sensitive or insensitive to light, noise, touch, pain, smell, or taste, or they have a significant interest in them. They may have predetermined food preferences based on color or texture, and they may exhibit behaviors such as frequent hand flapping.


Because of their intense focus, people with ASD are generally able to memorize detailed facts for extended periods of time and may excel in math, science, art, and music.

Sources

  1. CHADD. ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder - CHADD. CHADD. Published 2019. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://chadd.org/about-adhd/adhd-and-autism-spectrum-disorder/

  2. Holland K. The Relationship Between ADHD and Autism. Healthline. Published November 2021. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/autism-and-adhd#research