Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD


"My soon to be 12 year old has ADHD. But now we are suspecting ASD level 1. 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 ADHD and ASD level 1 (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 ASD and ADHD 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 ADHD know what they need to do and just forget to do it, but individuals with ASD 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 ASD 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 ADHD may be distracted by a fly on the wall in the classroom, someone with ASD 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. ADHD individuals understand them – they just have no mechanism for following them to the letter.

ASD 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 ASD 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 (e.g., 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 ASD early in a youngster's life, and they may be misdiagnosed with ADHD. It's not until the youngster reaches school age that they show the symptoms of social inadequacy.

ASD 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 ASD 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 ASD can live a much fuller life than without it.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD
More articles for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:
Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…


Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...


Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…


Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…


Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...


Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...
A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) can have difficulty in school because, since he fits in so well, many adults may miss the fact that he has a diagnosis. When these children display symptoms of their disorder, they may be seen as defiant or disruptive.

Click here for the full article...


•    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.
*    Anonymous said... I've got one (maybe two) of the Kids with both ADHD and Apserger's. It is tough to make the call between willfulness, distractability and insufficient knowledge and practice to do the chores correctly. I have started making very specific lists of the steps or mini-tasks needed to complete each household chore on their lists. This gives each a concrete, written set of instructions so that each can double check their own work. When a kid tells me that the task is complete I ask them to check the list. Often I will hear "Oops forgot that one." from the other room and then whichever one is doing the chore will then complete the task without my direct help. I wish I could say that I thought of this years ago but I only came up with these lists as my older one is getting ready to graduate from high school. He is going to need some way to help him remember all of the myriad of household tasks if he is to eventually live on his own. I looked all over for detailed checklists for household chores and didn't find much so I started making my own. They need to be very specific and written very clearly to be used independently. Good luck.

No comments:

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...