Autism and ADHD

Valerie - posted on 09/09/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )

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I was wondering how many of you have a child with ASD that is also diagnosed with ADHD. I do not believe all children that have been diagnosed with ADHD actually have it, most are simply kinestetic learners, or very bored, but I've noticed a ton of our ASD kids also have a diagnosis of ADHD...Any thoughts?

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Zenzele - posted on 09/12/2010

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Most of the children with ASD are diagnosed with ADHD because our kids lack joint attention skills. This is a skill that most children develop around age 2 and our children who are more moderate or severe on the spectrum have extreme difficulty with. Joint attention is the process of sharing one's experience by observing an object/event, following one's eye gaze or gesture.

Often this characteristic of autism is seen as a characteristic of ADHD. Our children often have a lack of interest in others which limits their opportunities for social exchange or communication. Some display a lack of empathy and have high levels of frustration due to their inability to get their thoughts verbalized. These frustrations result in screaming, throwing, kicking, biting or withdrawal. If a physician is not familiar with autism they only know the three characteristics outlined in the DSM for diagnosis:

1. Language and communication delay

2. Lack of social interaction

3. Experience restricted interests and & repetitive behaviors.

This is all that physicians have to go on if they do not research autism further. This is not to say that ASD kiddos cant have both ASD and ADHD. This is simply a view of why some are diagnosed when they do not have it.

Valerie - posted on 03/08/2011

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Our developmental pediatrician at Strong Memorial Hospital when we lived in NY said occasionally you will see a child who truly has both ADHD and ASD and he believed my son was one of them, and it is why it was difficult to diagnose him. He said that the impulsivity and lack of control from the ADHD could mask some of the diagnostic criteria necessary for a diagnosis for ASD, such as not perseverating like someone with only ASD would because his easy distractibility from the ADHD keeps him hopping from one thing to the next. Or that his impulsivity could be seen as attempts at socialization until you realize the dialog and activity continue whether some one is there or not. Those are the things I find so frustrating how someone just has to be willing to dig through the layer to get to the core of the true issue and most people won't be bothered if they think they already know the answer.

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Valerie - posted on 03/08/2011

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Wow! That sounds soooooo familiar! It's disheartening, but it's nice to hear I'm not the only one.

Terri - posted on 03/07/2011

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My son is 8 now, was diagnosed w/ ADHD at age 5 and Asperger's just a few months before his 7th birthday. I have two older daughters who were also both diagnosed w/ ADHD and I have it myself. Me and my oldest daughter both have a lot of Aspie traits and tendencies, but neither of us have ever been diagnosed. In spite of our tendencies I'm actually not sure we have Asperger's either...it's actually really confusing! I knew my son had ADHD from the time he was about 2. He has always been REALLY hyper and had a hard time concentrating (unless he's playing a video game). I probably would never have gotten the AS diagnosis for my son if his teachers and asst principal hadn't said something. Once I'd had several people ask me tho I finally started researching it and realized that the symptoms of AS fit him perfectly. His current pediatrician actually diagnosed him w/ Sensory Processing Disorder before he was actually diagnosed w/ AS, but now that we've gotten the AS diagnosis I think it makes the SPD diagnosis null and void. I've noticed myself that a lot of kids, especially Aspie kids, seem to have several different diagnosis. It seems to me that a lot of these disorders have overlapping symptoms and mimic each other in a lot of ways...or maybe one, such as AS, has a couple of symptoms that another doesn't have, so the docs just label the kid w/ ALL of them. I know AS has a lot of sensory issues so saying my son has SPD along w/ AS just seems redundant to me. I don't personally think ADHD and AS overlap so much as to make the dual diagnosis of them redundant, but maybe if it becomes too common someone should think about combining them and renaming the diagnosis or adding some of the attention and hyperactive issues of ADHD to the ASD spectrum.

Jane - posted on 09/18/2010

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My son was diagnosed ADHD when he was 3. We were sure it was some sort of Autism, but our doctors wouldn't put the label on him until about 1 1/2 years ago! That was so frustrating,but that's another story. He has always been very hyper, unfocused, and all the other symptoms associated with ADHD. We just knew there was more to it than that. We do medicate him for school. It is a life-saver, because he can't function without it! I do believe the two sometimes go hand-in-hand, but I also believe like you say, that some children are misdiagnosed. All I know is that my son is definitely ADHD/Asperger's.

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When I requested to have my daughter tested for aspergers, they first sent me a questionnaire for ADD/ ADHD. I found it insulting because it was obvious to me that she didn't have one of those disorders. After answering the questions and doing some more reading, I can now see why ASDs and ADD/ADHD might be considered comorbid disorders or why one might be mistaken for another. Some doctors will diagnose both, some won't.

Michelle - posted on 09/17/2010

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One of the interesting things as they start to look at the spectrum is I think dual diagnoses are dropping. They are starting to realize it is part and parcel of the original diagnosis of ASD so no need to also throw on ADD or OCD or detachment disorder because, yeah, they're all a part of the autism depending on the child. That is one of the most helpful, to me, moves to the spectrum understanding.

Estrilla - posted on 09/12/2010

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i have two kids with austism and im goin through a lot with them one of them like to urinate on the floor even in the cat box he will also wipe himself on our clothes he dont talk or go to the bathroom and the other talks to himself i dont think he knows the differents between telling the truth and lie he ia aggressive and tearing up my house im so scared im going to be sat out because of the things he do like writing on walls breaking windows if only i could own my on house that would be one less thing to worry aboutsomeone plese help

Valerie - posted on 09/12/2010

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I have a child that has been diagnosed with ASD and he has ADHD, OCD, and is aggressive. He see a behavioral doctor and a thyrepist to help him. He was diagnosed first with ADHD then with ASD.

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I agree with you. My son got a diagnosis of asperger's/adhd. I always thought the hyperactivity was coming from food allergies and just part of the aspergers. The only time he exhibits the inattentive, hyperactive symptoms is when he has eaten something he can't handle, then it goes away. And when he is stressed out, or overstimulated. Likewise, after I calm him down he's fine again.

Amy

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