My soon to be 12 year old has ADD. But now we are suspecting Asperger syndrome. We wonder if it could be one or the other - or both. Is this possible? How can we tell the difference? He and I butt heads because he will not stay on task for chores unless I stand over him, and even then can't seem to get it together. He gets angry if asked/told he needs to do chores. And no, none of them are that hard, and he will admit that after a long painful, drawn out affair.
Clear cut boundaries exist between Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism), though the two are sometimes linked. Some members of the medical establishment see them as existing simultaneously in one person, whereas others say that is impossible. The truth is that there is no agreement on the two issues.
It's true that Aspergers and ADD share certain commonalities, but the causal factors are far different. For example, individuals with each may talk too loudly or too much, neither can regulate behavior, and both can be social misfits. But the why behind those issues is where the dissimilarities come in. Individuals with ADD know what they need to do and just forget to do it, but individuals with Aspergers don't know what to do. They have no idea that personal relationships are two-sided because they see the world as existing for and about them.
But there are other issues aside from the social where the two disorders seemingly coincide, but are driven by dissimilar mental processes. Though individuals with Aspergers can appear to be disorganized and forgetful, it's because they concentrate on everything around them. No aspect of their environment is more important than another. So, whereas individuals with ADD may be distracted by a fly on the wall in the classroom, someone with Aspergers may feel that the fly is as important to study as what the teacher is saying. They tend to focus on insignificant issues, without meaning, and they don't understand rules. ADD individuals understand them – they just have no mechanism for following them to the letter.
Aspergers can take different forms, as well. Some children live in a fantasy world of their own making. In that world, everything goes just the way they want it to all the time. There's nothing wrong with being a character in a book, for instance, and dressing in costume all the time.
Obsessive-compulsive Aspergers individuals make a world of rules and rituals for themselves, and follow each of those to the letter. They may appear to be distracted like individuals with ADD, but they're actually obsessing, for example, on how many times they turned the faucet on and off or how many minutes they brushed their teeth.
These similarities make it hard for doctors to properly diagnose Aspergers early in a youngster's life, and they may be misdiagnosed with ADD. It's not until the youngster reaches school age that they show the symptoms of social inadequacy. Aspergers sufferers have no idea that other individuals have thoughts, feelings, and motivations unlike their own. This isn't true of individuals with ADD, who know they shouldn't speak out of turn, but just can't help it.
Finding proper help for an Aspergers youngster is very important. Diagnosis, though, may take years of trial and error, which makes starting treatment early very important. With the proper help, kids with Aspergers can live a much fuller life than without it.
More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:
==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's Children
==> Discipline for Defiant Asperger's Teens
==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management
==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's: How to Promote Self-Reliance
==> Everything You'll Ever Need to Know About Parenting Asperger's Children
==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism
==> AudioBook: Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism
• Anonymous said… All of mine, bar the toddler (too young to tell) have diagnosis of both.
• Anonymous said… I know that ADHD can often be a differential diagnosis with ASD, or a concurrent one with ASD
• Anonymous said… Kids with ADHD and ASD suffer from executive functioning issues. Being told to clean up is so overwhelming that they just do not know or understand where to start. They don't think, okay I will just start over in this corner, they think where do i start, I can't do this and consequently then don't do it. You have to show them specifically the tasks and break them into smaller parts. Getting angry is natural because the task evokes a feeling of frustration and fear. My son has aspergers and ADHD, yes they are comorbid and are diagnosed together and yes, life is very difficult with such a child. But with your help and guidance, they will be able to succeed.
• Anonymous said… Mine is both ADHD and ASD. What you describe sounds more of an ASD behaviour.
• Anonymous said… My 21yr old son is ASD, SPD, diagnosed two yrs ago, I've been at him to clean up his room (sanctuary away from overwhelming people and other stuff), for years now. There have been times where I've gone in there and cleaned out where he won't look/think to look...and I've gotten away with it. Lol but this week..he wanted new speakers to play his music.....so I took him to get them...then he wanted tubs to put stuff in and store....but I had no idea, the extent that he would go to later on. He gutted his room, vacuumed it, removed furniture, rearranged his room and now it's less cluttered. I knew the cleaning day would come...but this was monumental. He said he didn't realise how much stuff was in his room till he started moving things out. He's proud of himself...I am too...but the dishes I asked him to put away two days ago are still in the dish rack and the bin is still out the front waiting to be brought in. Executive disfunction...yep!
• Anonymous said… My son has aspergers and ADHD. He struggles to concentrate and constant fidgetting and moving ( he bounces)
• Anonymous said… Our son is also ADHD and on the Spectrum. We deal daily with him being overwhelmed and angry... always trying to help him to stay on task. I feel like I could be a terrorist negotiator as my son will try to keep us hostage with his behavior. Oh yes, I've negotiated through the biggest toughest meltdowns you've ever seen and have won my son's heart...because I keep our expectations high for him. Always helping him stive to accomplish the hard stuff and rewarding when and where we can. There are good days and very hard days with our Aspie...but that's what you do as a parent. Many of us here know that it's not easy parenting children with ADHD/ASD, but just know you can do it! My biggest hurdle has been asking for help...but have found it necessary in order to survive. I don't know why I am saying all of this...but I feel there are parents going through some hard times right now and you feel like giving up, but be encouraged. God chose you for this special assignment and he's equipped you with everything you need; emotionally, financially, and spiritually. You can do this! May God's peace be with you.
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