Believe it or not, ADHD as diagnosed by therapists, doctors, and psychologists is not always accurate. In fact, it's extremely common for individuals with autism in Denver to be misdiagnosed as having ADHD. Many symptoms of autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger's Syndrome are similar to symptoms of ADHD.
For children with ADHD, the root causes may include inattention and inability to organize their thoughts, or impulsivity. For autistic children, the reasons are often different — such as not understanding nonverbal communication or delays in language skills.
Recently, a study of children with autism or ADHD found that both groups had high levels of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These similarities may be one of the reasons it is often difficult to distinguish between the two conditions.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may mask autism in children who have both conditions. Many of these children receive their autism diagnosis an average of four years later than those who have autism alone, suggests a new study1.
Clinical studies found that medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is effective in coexisting autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but current research is based on small clinical studies mainly performed on children or adolescents.
Hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder and ADHD often overlap. Many autistic children also have symptoms of ADHD — difficulty settling down, social awkwardness, only focusing only on things of interest to them, and impulsivity.
In a 2014 review of studies looking at the co-occurrence of ADHD and ASD, researchers found that between 30 to 50 percent of people with ASD also have symptoms of ADHD. Researchers don't fully understand the cause for either condition, or why they occur together so frequently.
Sensory issues in autistic people may be misdiagnosed as hallucinations in schizophrenia. It can also be difficult to tell the difference between the negative symptoms of schizophrenia and ASD symptoms.
Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child's developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis. ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger.
ASD often presents early but can be difficult to diagnose in some cases. There are other brain disorders that mimic autism symptoms, like ADHD and anxiety disorders, including selective mutism. Autism can be misdiagnosed as another disorder with some shared symptoms.
But in fact, autism and ADHD often coincide. An estimated 30 to 80 percent of children with autism also meet the criteria for ADHD and, conversely, 20 to 50 percent of children with ADHD for autism.
Shared symptoms of autism and ADHD
Social communication impairments. Difficulty focusing/intense focus. Language skills challenges. Executive functioning issues.
Stimulants like Ritalin and Concerta are prescribed to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They can also reduce hyperactive behaviour in some, but not all, autistic children. This might allow children to concentrate on tasks for longer and think more before they act.
Methylphenidate may improve hyperactivity in children with ASD in the short term, although there was no evidence that methylphenidate improves or worsens ASD symptoms. Some children cannot tolerate the medication's side effects.
Stimulants are medicines that temporarily increase mental or physical function or both. Some stimulants commonly prescribed for autistic people are dexamphetamine and methylphenidate.
The global increase in autism prevalence reflects major improvements in public awareness and public health response to autism. Children are now more likely to be diagnosed earlier, and even underrepresented regions like Africa and the Middle East have been advancing their ability to measure autism prevalence.
There are several conditions that resemble or have autism-like symptoms such as developmental delays, language disorders, motor impairments, attention-deficit, anxiety, brain injury, chromosomal abnormalities, and severe emotional and behavioral disturbance – just to name a few.
Asperger's Syndrome is the mildest form of autism and is closely associated with level one of ASD.
Characteristics of Mild Autism
Repetitive or fixated behaviors, interests, or activities: Autistic people often repeat movements or words as a way to self-regulate, a behavior often referred to as “stimming.” They may also adhere to specific routines and have specific and intense interests.
Parents may notice atypical behaviors or developmental delays just a few months into a child's life. However, many children are not diagnosed until they present more obvious symptoms around the age of two years old or older.
About 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with autism by the time they are 8 years old. Researchers say MRI scans can identify differences in the brains of fetuses that could be early indicators that a child will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.