High-Functioning Autism and Comorbid Conditions

"Is it common for a child with Autism (high functioning) to also have other disorders? My son had been diagnosed with ADHD and ODD, but now they think he may also be on the autism spectrum."





Children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger's (AS) are known to have several comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions are those conditions that go along with having an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

One of these conditions is known as ADHD. Sometimes, these young people can be misdiagnosed as only having the more common ADHD, with the ASD diagnosis being missed.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be a comorbidity with HFA and AS. In some cases, this doesn’t show-up until the youngster is an adult. What both conditions have in common is the need for order, and the presence of compulsive, sometimes irrational, repetitive behaviors. Some researchers believe that there is a neurological relationship between the two conditions.

Because those with HFA and AS know they are different and have difficulty relating to others, they often suffer from acute or chronic depression. Others can have anger or violent symptoms out of frustration for being “out of place” (e.g., ODD).

There have been reports of suicide and suicide-attempts among youth on the autism spectrum. The symptoms of depression can respond to antidepressant therapy and also to psychological therapy, aimed at helping the child feel more accepted and acceptable to others.

In addition, seizures are a common comorbidity, with some researchers believing that up to 30% of kids on the spectrum also have a seizure disorder. Medication can work in some cases, while other sufferers require specialized brain surgery to be free of seizures.

While the disorder itself has no known cure or medications specifically designed for it, many of the comorbidities can be treated effectively. Not only can seizures and depression be treated, but the ADHD and obsessive compulsive symptoms have known medical therapies directed at helping them. Using these medications can often make symptoms more tolerable and increases the functioning of the child or teen who is experiencing it.


==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism


PARENTS' COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Mine has both. Diagnosed about 5 years with ADHD and with Aspergers when he was 8.
•    Anonymous said... Mine was diagnosed with Aspergers, then they mentioned he also has ADHD.
•    Anonymous said... My 11 yr old grandson was diagnosed bipolar when he was 3 & as Aspergers in elementary school.
•    Anonymous said... My 7 year old son has ADHD and Asperger's and according to his neurologist this is very common.
•    Anonymous said... My son also has anxiety and depression disorders to deal with, which are getting markedly worse with puberty.
•    Anonymous said... My son has adhd and Aspergers
•    Anonymous said... My son has been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and Asperger's. I have also noticed a worsening now that he is 10.
•    Anonymous said... my son was diagnosed with ADHD at 7 and Aspergers at 11 sometimes I think you can spot when things arent straight forward not that things are ever straight forward with any condition as such, i just mean there can be extra behaviours that can point to other conditions like Aspergers
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD at age five and Aspergers at age seven.
•    Anonymous said... My take (based on my experience) is depression is more of a causality of the conditions these kids must deal with, and not a direct chemical disorder in the brain(the conventional cause of depression). I wasn't diagnosed with ADD until college, and never formerly diagnosed with aspergers, but have and show many of the traits. Depression was a result of my inability to properly socialize with others. Left unabated it leads to apathy, and was only abated by my family's strong support.
•    Anonymous said... My take on this is that Asperger/autism (ASD) is the primary neurologic condition, and that these other diagnoses are just symptom clusters that frequently appear in people with ASD. That said, treating the symptoms can help overall function so in that way it's helpful/sensical to have another diagnosis. But it's not a new "disorder."
•    Anonymous said... Technically, according to the DSM, you can't be diagnosed with ADHD and a spectrum disorder on Axis 1, although some psychologists do it. It is a tough call for some evaluators because ADHD symptoms definitely are often seen with Autism. Paired with social isolation,or self-stimming behaviors, the default diagnosis is the spectrum disorder.
•    Anonymous said... Yes. Depression... and my kiddo too is getting worse with puberty. They diagnosed him with apraxia to explain his speech slowness, I took him in for ADD testing in 4th grade and that's when they finally diagnosed him with Asperger's... which explained ALL of the observations I'd had... and yes Kristina, it's getting worse, or at least different, with puberty...
•    Anonymous said... Yes... ADHD then Aspergers then Sensory Integration.

Post your comments below... 

Raising Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Parents' Grief and Guilt

Some parents grieve for the loss of the youngster they   imagined  they had. Moms and dads have their own particular way of dealing with the...