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Does My Child Have ASD and ADHD - or Just ASD?

"Is it possible to have a child diagnosed with ADHD, but later discover that he really has ASD? Our son currently has a diagnosis of ADHD, but the more we research, the more we think he has ASD instead. Also, is it possible to have both disorders at the same time?"

Yes, and yes. Even though doctors have clear diagnostic guidelines for children with ASD (High-Functioning Autism), some children get misdiagnosed with other disorders. ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) are two diagnoses that children with autism often get diagnosed with. Both diagnoses have features similar to ASD, particularly ADHD.

ADHD is a genetic disorder as is ASD. Both situations involve children with difficulty learning and difficulty with interacting with other children. There can be hyperactivity with both disorders as well. Because of the similarities of the two disorders, the doctor must look at the checklists for both disorders to see which of the two disorders matches the best.

In looking at the two disorder checklists, it’s easy to see that there are similarities and differences...

ASD Behavioral Checklist:
  • Difficulty mixing with other children
  • No real fear of danger
  • Tantrums, displays extreme distress for no apparent reason
  • Inappropriate giggling or laughing
  • May not want cuddling or act cuddly
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  • Little (or no) eye contact
  • Works impulsively, often makes careless mistakes, work is sloppy 
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills

ADHD Behavioral Checklist:
  • Can't talk or play quietly, disrupts others with talk or actions
  • Difficult awaiting turn in games or activities 
  • Engages in potentially dangerous activities
  • Plays without normal caution or consideration of consequences 
  • Severe temper tantrums 
  • Interrupts, disrupts, talks and acts inappropriately
  • When younger, difficulty accepting soothing or holding
  • Always on the move, overactive, even during sleep
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school work or other activities
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills

Using checklists like these may be the best option in diagnosing a child correctly and not missing the diagnosis of ASD when it exists.

This video goes into greater depth on this issue:
The ASD-ADHD Overlap

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    Anonymous said... yes, there can be what they call co-morbidity, symptoms are similar in some aspects but ADHD is far more readily diagnosed
•    Anonymous said... Yes, my son was originally diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. I never agreed with the ADHD diagnosis. I think It's all a bit of a guessing game anyways.
•    Anonymous said... yes, my daughter has both adhd and aspergers, both diagnosed together when she was 7
•    Anonymous said... Yes my son was diagnosed at 2 with adhd then at 12 years of age he was diagnosed not only with ADHD but aspergers as well as OCD. I now have another son on the spectrum he is 8 but high functioning this time round but just as difficult but I'd like to say my oldest aspy now has a job and a secure future, they can get there they just need support and encouragement to not give up on themselves and that they too can have a place in society
•    Anonymous said... Yes it happened with my step daughter. Although it was obvious from the start something wasn't right but her mom was in denial which happens sometimes
•    Anonymous said... Yeah... our daughter was diagnosed with both, as well as a couple of other possibilities, depending on which psychiatrist or psychologist you asked.
•    Anonymous said... When it comes to anxiety-based/type disorders, it's rare for a child to be diagnosed with only one; more often than not, there will be two, three or even more at work at the same time. My son has Asperger's, ADD and Intermittent Explosive Disorder. There might even be more but those are the diagnoses so far...
•    Anonymous said... Unfortunately that's a "go to" diagnosis in public schools. I've seen so many children misdiagnosed as ADHD when there was something else going on. That was what the teachers were suggesting to me also, with my kiddo. Behaviors that would fall under ADHD can be easily found in other diagnosis also, especially with Aspergers.
•    Anonymous said... This appears to be so common - it angers me. I firmly believe that clinical (NHS) staff are told from'up above' to exhaust everything else before diagnosing Aspergers/HFA. Purely because of the money involved once you have that 'Autism' word on paper. I know my son has Aspergers - not ADHD as they have tried to tell us. Don't give up and you are allowed to disagree with them!
•    Anonymous said... The are Comorbid Dx. My son has both.
•    Anonymous said... That happened to me. My son was given a LIST of issues (at age 5/6), I mean it took the whole page. It just wasn't accurate. We were given (by a different doctor) an aspergers diagnoses about 6 months later. It fit much better and we were able to help him more appropriately.
•    Anonymous said... One thing I've learned about ALL of this stuff is, the diagnostic "labels" are really more useful for determining your eligibility for various types of funding or which programs you can get them into than anything else. The truth is, there's a lot of overlap of signs/symptoms of ADD, ADHD, Asperger's, or "childhood bi-polar". (In fact, depending on who you ask, "childhood bi-polar" doesn't even really exist!) You'll also see such conditions as "separation anxiety disorder" mentioned in some cases. (EG. There was a divorce when the child was young and he/she wound up not seeing one of the parents anymore.) They might even wind up declaring a kid has "behavior disorder, undefined". Ultimately, you have to figure out as a parent what seems to work for your kid and what doesn't, and be flexible enough to keep changing things up as he/she gets older. Our kid went through a phase where, at least according to the school system, ADHD medications were a big help in allowing her to concentrate and succeed in her school-work. But now, I took her off of those meds because I realized her personality and attitude has changed as she's matured. She did just fine last school year without it. Now, her biggest problems seem to be in other areas than concern about hyperactivity or "lack of ability to concentrate". Now, she just has more issues making and keeping friends, and not seeming to understand what's inappropriate to say in some social situations.
•    Anonymous said... My son's original dx at 6yo was ADHD. At 10you bipolar was added, and at 16you we got his asperger's dx.
•    Anonymous said... my son was first diagnosed with Aspergers 2 yrs ago and about 12months ago ADD was added
•    Anonymous said... My son was first diagnosed with ADHA and Anxiety, then a year later with Aspergers. There are many wonderful organizations that help with therapy for Aspergers. Nothing was working until we were able to get his anxiety and adhd under control with meds. They have improved the quality of his life considerably.
•    Anonymous said... My son was dx'd ADHD at age 5. At age 6 they said he was Bipolar. At age 11 they said not BPD but Aspergers. His behavior and quirks fit that dx to a T.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with both. I know they say you can't really outgrow a diagnosis but, at the age of 13 now, I don't believe the ADHD dx fits him anymore. But yes, it is possible to have both and to get a wrong diagnosis. The Connor chart gave my son a diagnosis of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) and it was wrong. The test was given right after my ex husband and I got a divorce and my son was lashing out and angry. Shortly after he saw a clinical psychologist who agreed with me that the dx wasn't accurate/fitting for my son.
•    Anonymous said... my son was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD and he is on concerta
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 5. By the age of 12 after other series of problems with behavior in school and seeing a psychologist after being expelled from school for a month because they refused to accepting him back without knowing what else was wrong with him the psychologist came back not only with the ADHD which fell as the second axis in the diagnosed and aspergers in the first. He also had depression. Short is you can have more than one diagnosis. Now I am proud to say that with therapy and lots of prayer my son is doing much, much better. He rarely exhibits symptoms of depression and he is no longer hyper but does need help with focusing and memory. Extremely forgetful and organized. But if we give them the tools they need they are successful in functioning at school and making some friends. My son is a blessing to my life and I know he was given to me for a special reason. Don't loose hope parents!! Merely watch all the behaviors as they change with age and hormonal changes.
•    Anonymous said... My son has rigidity of thought and struggles with impulse control, both Asperger and ADHD, resulting in no friends and lots of behavior problems. The doctors prescribed 2 medicines for symptoms and the results have been amazing: friends, no negatives marks for first time, A's, able to play with siblings. Even off the medicine, he has ingrained correct behavior and is easier.
•    Anonymous said... My son has dual diagnosis of ADHD and Asperger's. We started with the ADHD diagnosis, but he also had speech problems. As his individual issues were addressed with therapies, his Asperger's symptoms made themselves more evident. There was a WSJ article recently that stated nearly 1/3 of children with Asperger's also have ADHD. Link:
•    Anonymous said... My son has both. Diagnosed ADHD age 6 and Aspergers age 8.
•    Anonymous said... My son has both.
•    Anonymous said... My son has both ADHD and aspergers. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 6-7 and told he had aspergers tendencies. It wasnt until he was about 11 that we had him tested for aspergers again with a very strong positive result. I know he still has ADHD and still needs his medication for that. It is VERY common for the two to exist together.
•    Anonymous said... my son has both ADHD and Aspergers as well as a host of other things
•    Anonymous said... My daughter has both and she was diagnosed when she was 14. She is now 15. She is sailing threw Sciences and loving every minute of it. She has a amazing singing voice to. She has some amazing gifts and I'm so proud of her.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter had an initial diagnosis of both, was then reassessed and just given an ASD diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said... My child has ADHD, ODD and Autism (and several others). We got the ODD and ADHD diagnosis first. Unfortunately a lot of the time you will get one diagnosis at a time. It is actually VERY common for a child who has Autism to also have co-concurring diagnosis... so I wouldn't be surprised if they tell you later on that your child does have another diagnosis on top of the ADHD. We have about 7 diagnosis. The thing is, all they do is build a profile on my daughter and help us treat her better. As overwhelming as that sounds on the surface, it has helped us find better ways to help her and treat her.
•    Anonymous said... My 11 yr old daughter was diagnosed with being at risk for ADHD and 2 months later diagnosed with Aspergers. I have spoken to the school she is attending and they have said they will be doing an intervention for 6 weeks and see how she is during that timeframe. Has anyone dealt with the school side of dealing with Aspergers and ADHD. She is not on medicine for ADHD, and we are still setting up appointments for her having the possibility of CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder).
•    Anonymous said... Labels are great for school services like social classes, behavior chart, recess monitor, etc., but I am finding a good diagnosis of symptoms and treating the specific symptom through medicine and therapy is really helpful. At first reading everything on the labels seemed overwhelming. Once specialists helped me and school on what was hindering him, that is when progress was made for him.
•    Anonymous said... It happened to our son. He was first diagnosed with ADHD and then Aspergers. So I believe it is possible for a dual diagnosis. Always keep in the back of your mind that you are his Mother, have faith in your own instincts and read as much as you can on both subjects. Self information is priceless. No one, not a teacher, not a principal, not a doctor is more of an expert on your child as you are.
•    Anonymous said... I was positive my son was just ADHD.. Because he could communicate and talk so well with us... I didn't realize that in public, at school, etched it was a very different story and that he grew increasingly quiet, and shy. Be ause school kept telling me he was autistic I started spying on him at recess and saw my son sitting on playground not talking to anyone. He was overloaded and didn't know what to do. We started him on counseling after that. He is still shy and inappropriate at times but we are working on it.
•    Anonymous said... Happens all the time,or they have both.
•    Anonymous said... diagnose Suspected ADHD but by 9 it was diagnosed Combined type ADHD/HFA
•    Anonymous said... As a special ed teacher, for many years I knew my, now 16 yr old daughter had ADD, however for years I also suspected she has Aspergers as well. The older she got the surer I was; many of the Aspie behaviors have become more clearly defined. Finally, about 3 years ago a new therapist my daughter began seeing agreed with me. While it doesn't really change anything it was validation. My husband is still skeptical, but doesn't have the experience I have.
•    Anonymous said... ADHD and Asperger's often go hand in hand.
•    Anonymous said...  Yes, that happened to us. ADHD came first, then it was discovered that my daughter has both.
•    Anonymous said...  Yes, my son was diagnosed ADHD at 4 years old at around 8 I started suspecting Aspergers, but they kept saying no, then at 10 he was diagnosed with both.
•    Anonymous said...  Yes to all of that.
•    Anonymous said...  Yeah, my son was diagnosed at age 6 with ADHA. By the time he hit 14 he was finally diagnosed with as aspergers.
•    Anonymous said...  THIS is very common, our son was diagnosed (after much distress about it) w/ ADHD at the time he turned 10 we (his parents) had him evaluated for Apsergers...which we now realize he has. The problem w/ Aspergers is that teachers and most parents have no idea what it looks like. Only those trained or w/ experience notice the differences. The average age (which is way toooo late) a child is diagnosed w/ Aspergers is 10. Good luck on your journey!
•    Anonymous said...  Our neuropsych said Asperger's is a grand combination of all of the above and that no two are the same, which is where 'syndrome' comes in. So, yes, absolutely possible.
•    Anonymous said...  My son has Aspergers and ADHD.
•    Anonymous said...  My son has ADHD, HFA n moderate learning difficulties. It seems to me that if a child has one of the above there is a likelihood that will have more than one disorder. Wouldn't change a hair on his head for all the tea in china. Hard work though
•    Anonymous said...  For sure nothing is ever alone, we have Pdd,nos and anxiety, adhd.
•    Anonymous said... (Especially in lower income areas) Doctors are more familiar with ADHD and tend to lean towards diagnosing that disorder in children who appear hyper (even if the behavior may be secondary to anxiety or another reason). Most doctors only see the child once or twice a year and most of the referrals to a psychologist is based on reports from schools and parents. Always do your own research and go into your doctors appointments prepared. Ask lots questions and always ask for alternatives. Healthcare in this country has a "turn and burn" mentality. They want to make an easy diagnosis with a simple plan of care. Make sure they aren't trying to fit your square child into a round hole.
•    Anonymous said... A lot of the behaviours overlap and sometimes it is hard to know which is which however my son has been diagnosed with both Aspergers and ADHD. Once he received medication for the ADHD it was easier to see the differences. Both are difficult in their own way.
•    Anonymous said... Absolutely yes, to both questions.
•    Anonymous said... ADHD at 8 became HFA/Asperger's when she was about 10. Definitely possible. (she's almost 16, now)
•    Anonymous said... At 7 my son was diagnosed with ADHD & aspergers. My husband always said it was only Aspergers and he will learn the social rules as he did. After 3 yrs of following the school's push for meds for both, I went with my gut. He is meds free, and our family is so much happier. The meds made him very moody and irritable. Though he has a few "quirks", maturity and social classes have helped him to be more receptive of others, unless you are illogical.
•    Anonymous said... Back in the late 80s that was the only diagnosis we had for our aspie daughter. we knew nothing about aspergers. She suffered a lot.
•    Anonymous said... I read a while back that they are considering adding ADHD to the spectrum.
•    Anonymous said... i strongly believe some Drs jump on adhd because they can prescribe and get you out
•    Anonymous said... mine was misdiagnosed exactly like that at 3 and i was blacklisted by the paed for refusing ritalin it took 10yrs to get retesting and ministry of education involvement
•    Anonymous said... My 13 yr old son has Asperger's, ADHD, ODD, and OCD. They come in all packages.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter is 12 and has Aspergers and her teachers have mentioned possible ADHD a few times. But I think that's just my daughter. And as with any child, if they aren't interested in something, they aren't going to pay attention. (or adults for that matter) I can see how both diagnosis can overlap easily.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's at age 3 and ADHD at age 7. She also deals with anxiety and OCD tics.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter was misdiagnosed as adhd for at least 3 years.
•    Anonymous said... My son also benefits from anxiety treatment it calms his outbursts and aggression, his OCD and ticks have all improved with this treatment, sensory disorder contributes to their anxiety so with a little help in this area could prove beneficial to some.
•    Anonymous said... My son has Aspergers and ADHD diagnosis, my younger son has Autism ADHD diagnosis. Common for the two to sit together, there are alot of co-existing conditions, my eldest also has a dysgraphia diagnosis which is a form of dyslexia effecting writing. ADHD medication in a child that is not ADHD will make them climb the walls, in an ADHD child is has the opposite calming effect.
•    Anonymous said... My son has both as separate diagnosis' x
•    Anonymous said... My son has high functioning asd and adhd
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed ADHD when he was 7. At 12, he was diagnosed with autism. He DEFINITELY has ADHD and takes meds daily.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed very young as ADHD and ODD, however I always felt there was more and had to advocate for additional assessments be completed! Follow your mothers instinct, proper identification will help your child immensely with his educational and developmental needs! My son is now 12 and has been diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD for 3 years now.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD and SPD at nearly 10 and a yr later was diagnosed with ASD also.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 6 and Autism at 8 years old. It's very common to have an aspergers diagnosis in the 8-10 year range following an ADHD diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD at age 5 and his 4th grade teacher picked up he also had Aspergers and he was diagnosed at age 9 by the doctor so he has both ADHD and Aspergers
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with AS at 3 and ADHD at 12.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with both ADHD and Aspergers at 6 years old
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with both at 16.
•    Anonymous said... My son was Dx with ADHD. It didn't sit right with us and the medication didn't make a marked difference in his behaviour so we had him tested and he was dx with Aspergers age 9
•    Anonymous said... My son was initially dx'd with ADHD, then changed to bipolar and then that was ruled out and final was Aspergers.....
•    Anonymous said... Our son was diagnosed with ADHD & GAD when he was 6...but we always felt something was missing from the 13 he was diagnosed with HFA...we're still working through the puzzle but the right diagnosis helps get the right support
•    Anonymous said... Same here. Our Daughter ADHD and Aspergers and Depression. At age 7.
•    Anonymous said... son diagnosed with adhd at abt 4 later diagnosed with high func. autism as well although dr. thought he had aspergers previously(he is 15 now and doing much better..hang in there
•    Anonymous said... That's what happened with our son! He is 8 yrs old but at 5 adhd was his dx
•    Anonymous said... Wow we are not alone! My 11 yr old was diagnosed with adhd at 6 then aspergers or high functioning asd at age 10. Psychologist said it is a common co-morbidity.
•    Anonymous said... Yes to your questions ... As far as my research has shown & my conversations with psychologists, add / adhd & aspergers go hand in hand.
•    Anonymous said... Yes, my daughter has Asperger's, OCD,PTSD,depression and can't focus at all even though they haven't diagnosed her with ADHD, her father has ADHD so I believe she has it as well.
•    Anonymous said... Yes, my son was misdiagnosed for years.
•    Anonymous said... Yes, our son also was diagnosed as ADHD and we struggled with that diagnosis for four years because he wasn't hyper. It was found later that his anxiety was actually the caliber of his diagnosis for mild autism (aka Aspergers). Four years we poured medication after medication into him trying to treat ADHD -- trying to find the right combination to no medications seem to work. It wasn't until we decided to intutionalized (the hardest decision we've ever made for him) so that doctors could review his medications and work with him. It was there, at this great facility, that we started to get better understanding about autism. Some children with autism...their anxiety is so high and debilitating that they can't function. That's what was going on with our son. When they started treating his anxiety, remarkable changes started to happen. All the big meltdowns, all the flight and flea activity, all the hitting and swearing started to diminish. I'm not saying that the anxiety medication has solved all of our problems, but it certainly has allowed our son to function and be able to control his actions. So if you're going through something like this and would like more information about what we found to treat our son, feel free to personal message me.

Please post your comment below...


Does Your Child Have Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, or Both?

"Is ADHD a result/symptom of Aspergers, or do the two disorders tend to coincide with one another?"

People often wonder if these two disorders are opposite, independent, or correlated. At first blush, ADHD seems to be short attention span and inability to focus, and Aspergers (high functioning autism) the opposite problem. But then, descriptions of ADHD also mention ‘hyper-focus’. If they do turn out to be correlated or similar, then what are the differences between the two?

Aspergers and ADHD share some similarities that can make diagnosis challenging. However, a close examination of their definitions reveals that the attention problems in Asperger are quite different from ADHD symptoms. The fact that a child can have both Aspergers and ADHD further adds to the confusion. Roughly 60-70 % of children with Aspergers have symptoms which are compatible with an ADHD diagnosis.

Here are some of the similarities between ADHD and Aspergers:
  • Attention problems
  • Irrationally energetic activity
  • Learning problems
  • Often appears to not be listening to someone during a conversation
  • Problems following directions
  • Says inappropriate things and has problems figuring out the appropriate response to some situations
  • Talking at someone or talking nonstop
  • Tantrums
  • When younger, difficulty accepting soothing or holding

Both Aspergers children and ADHD children have serious sensory integration problems, can be uncoordinated and impulsive, and they both very much respond positively to structure and routine. Whenever there is a deficit in executive functions, it manifests itself in inattentiveness, distractability and impulsivity – three areas recognized on both the Aspergers and ADHD checklist of behaviors.

Here are some of the differences between ADHD and Aspergers:

1. Aspergers focuses more on attention problems related to (a) a need for strict routines, (b) language difficulties, (c) obsessive rituals, and (d) self-stimulating behaviors. Conversely, ADHD focuses more on attention problems related to (a) impulsivity and (b) hyperactivity.

2. A child with Aspergers has the ability to focus on an activity of interest. A child with ADHD does not.

3. An Aspergers child tends to focus on only one activity with a level of intensity that excludes everything else in his environment (e.g., he may spin an object for hours and refuse to engage in any other activity). On the other hand, an ADHD child tends to be interested in multiple activities, but is easily distracted by the environment and jumps from one activity to the next.

4. A child with Aspergers may get angry if his routine or favorite activity is interrupted, but he does not generally show a wide range of emotions in public. A child with ADHD may be prone to express emotions directly and clearly.

5. An Aspergers child can stick with one activity for long periods of time. The child with ADHD may not be able to focus on any activity or subject for more than a few minutes.

6. Children with Aspergers and children with ADHD usually want to have friends. Both groups have poor “rite-of-entry” skills and both groups play badly. Yet both groups usually fail socially for different reasons. With Aspergers, the behavior is so unusual and idiosyncratic that the child is viewed as a “nerd” or a “weirdo”. With ADHD, the behavior is so loud and chaotic that the child is viewed as annoying or disruptive.

7. Children with Aspergers like rules, but break the ones they don’t understand. Children with ADHD frequently break rules they understand, but defy and dislike.

8. Children with Aspergers are often oppositional in the service of avoiding something that makes them anxious. Children with ADHD are often oppositional in the service of seeking attention.

9. Children with Aspergers crave order, hate discrepancy, and explode (or withdraw) in the face of violation of expectations. Thus, they are very brittle and fragile. Children with Aspergers are much more tyrannized by details – they accumulate them, but cannot prioritize them. Children with ADHD also have poor organizational skills, but can be much more fluid in their thinking, more inferential in their comprehension, and less rigid in their treatment of facts that they are able to organize.

10. An Aspergers child can talk or play quietly. An ADHD child finds talking or playing quietly very difficult.

11. An Aspergers child has difficulty waiting for his turn in games or activities due to a lack of social intelligence. An ADHD child has difficulty waiting for his turn due to impulsivity.

12. Both groups seem not to listen when spoken to directly, but for different reasons. It appears that the Aspergers child is not paying attention because he avoids direct eye-contact. It appears that the ADHD child is not listening because he is focused on other things at the time.

The main differences between Aspergers and ADHD deal with focused attention ability as well as whether or not obsessive behaviors and sensory issues are present.

It is possible for a child to have a cormorbidity of ADHD and Aspergers (i.e., both conditions are present). A child with both conditions will have more ADHD symptoms (e.g., impulsivity and hyperactivity) than common in Aspergers.

The problem with the Aspergers - ADHD overlap is that, at the more severe margins of the ADHD spectrum and the less extreme margins of the Aspergers spectrum, clinicians can legitimately argue for one over the other diagnosis. It is common for a child with Aspergers to first be diagnosed with ADHD due to attention and behavioral issues. As further tests are done and more specialists get involved, a more specific diagnosis of Aspergers is often made.

Most of the processes to get these labels placed are not an exact science, and the frustrating process for parents, teachers, and medical professionals is finding the right label to make sure that the right approaches are taken to help the child progress in the best manner possible.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Is it ASD, ADHD, or Both?

"My 6-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD at age 5. But now we are seeing signs that he may have 'high functioning' autism. What percentage of ADHD children also have autism? Is a dual diagnosis common?"

Most kids with ASD level 1 (high functioning autism) don’t receive that diagnosis until after age 6. Usually, they are diagnosed with ADHD as toddlers. Part of the reason is that physicians routinely screen kids for ADHD but not for autism. 
Another reason is that an ASD child's social impairment becomes more evident once he starts school. Finally, physicians are reluctant to label a youngster "autistic." It is okay - and even a badge of honor - to have a hyperactive youngster, but it is another thing entirely to have an autistic youngster.

Physicians make their diagnoses based on the youngster’s behaviors. Since kids with ADHD and ASD share similar behaviors, the two can appear to overlap. However, there is a fundamental difference between the two. For example:
  • An autistic child can appear unfocused, forgetful and disorganized like a youngster with ADHD, but there is a difference. The ADD youngster is easily distracted. The ASD child has no "filter."
  • Autistic children don’t understand that relationships are two-sided. If an ASD child talks on and on in an unmodulated voice about his particular interest, he simply does not understand that he is boring his friend and showing disinterest in his friend's side of the conversation. On the other hand, the youngster with ADHD can’t control himself from dominating the conversation.
  • Autistic children lack what physicians call "social reciprocity" or Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is "the capacity to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires that are different from our own." Kids with ADHD have a Theory of Mind and understand other people's motives and expectations. They make appropriate eye contact and understand social cues, body language and hidden agendas in social interactions. ASD children can’t.
  • Autistic children tend to get anxious and stuck about small things and can’t see the "big picture." Kids with ADHD are not detailed-oriented.
  • Both have social difficulties, but for different reasons.
  • Both kinds of kids can tantrum, talk too loud and too much and have problems modulating their behaviors and making friends.
  • If the unfocused autistic child is "nowhere," the obsessive-compulsive and "fantasy" autistic  child is somewhere else. "Fantasy children" retreat into a world of their own making - a world where everything goes the way they want it to. They play video games for hours or retreat into books and music. Their daydreaming and fantasizing resembles the behaviors of non-hyperactive kids with ADHD.
  • Kids with ADHD respond to behavioral modification. With ASD, the disorder is the behavior.
  • Obsessive-compulsive ASD children live a world they create from rules and rituals. Like ADHD kids, they appear preoccupied and distracted, but for different reasons. They appear distracted because they are always thinking about their "rules” (e.g., Did I tie my shoelaces right? Did I brush my teeth for 120 seconds?).
  • The ADHD youngster understands the rules but lacks the self-control to follow them. The autistic child does not understand the rules.
  • The autistic child views everything in her environment as equally important. Her teacher's dangling earring is as important as what she writes on the blackboard. The ASD child does not understand that she does not have to memorize the entire textbook for the next test. She does not "get" such rules.
  • The youngster with ADHD knows what to do, but forgets to do it. ASD children don’t know what to do.

Some researchers estimate that 60% to 70% of ASD-Level 1 children also have ADHD, which they consider a common comorbidity of ASD. Other researchers say that the two can’t exist together. Still others insist physicians have it all wrong and that the two disorders are the same.

The real problem is that there is no hard science. No one knows exactly how slight imperfections in brain structure and chemistry cause such problems. For this reason, getting the right diagnosis for a youngster who exhibits behavior problems may take years of trial and error. Diagnosis is based on observation of behaviors that are similar for a myriad of disorders. 

The tragedy is that the youngster often does not receive the correct medications, educational strategies, and behavioral modification techniques that could help him function on a higher level. He falls farther behind his peer group and loses ground when he could be getting appropriate treatments.

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

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD


•    Anonymous said… fabulous info! thank you....
•    Anonymous said… Great article, thanks!
•    Anonymous said… My son haznt got any speech delays but shows every sympton of aspie but they wont diagnose him they wana diagnose him wid adhd an attachment disorder cus he waz poorly when a babie im still thinkin aspergers thow
•    Anonymous said… My son is 11 and still officially 'undiagnosed'!!!
•    Anonymous said… my son was diagnosed smack bang on the age of 6 ... no speech delay for this man . cant shut him up since the age of one !!! but other things make sense now . hes nearly seven :)
•    Anonymous said… My son was diagnosed with autism at 3. He is now 11 and presents as a child with Aspergers but at 3 there was speech delay.
•    Anonymous said… My son was just diagnosed at 7... at three he was diagnosed with speech delay anxeity disorder and ocd....
•    Anonymous said… the doctor that diagnosed my daughter said the only difference between asperger's and high functioning autism is the speech delays in the early years 
•    Anonymous said... Adhd n add will never be on the spectrum. Add n adhd are commonly diagnosed with Aspergers because some of the "symptoms" are in both. Sensory issues are in almost every child with an ASD.
•    Anonymous said... I have 2 with adhd and one with asd. While a few of the symptoms are the same, and a child can have both, I could not imagine add or adhd being on the spectrum in any way ever.
•    Anonymous said... My son has asbergers adhd ocd and generalized anxiety disorder
•    Anonymous said... They are talking about putting ADD and ADHD on the spectrum, so your question is yes. Going to share your page.
•    Anonymous said... yes my son was diagnosed with adhd when he started school but he always had the aspergers tendencies. he has been re diagnosed as adhd-asd-aspergers syndrome.
•    Anonymous said… I agree. My 15 year old son was diagnosed with ADHD at 5 but wasn't given a formal diagnosis of Aspergers till he was 9. One of the reasons for the delay was other cases where the disability was evident took precedent. Unfortunately, in cases such as Autism or FASD where the disability is "invisible" or intangible, individuals are more often than not last priority in psychological assessments in school.
•    Anonymous said… I've had a lot of anger towards the specialists who were a part of diagnosing my son with ADHD when he was 5. I always knew it wasn't the answer, and sought help from different sources (pediatrician, school special education team, therapists...) only to feel like I was going crazy because I was the only one who didn't want to medicate him for ADD. Four (long and tough) years later, we're in the process of an autism assessment. The more I read about the spectrum, the more I feel that it's so blatantly obvious that autism symptoms are what have been ailing him and causing his issues at school for so long; and it has made me angry that those specialists (who should be familiar enough with those symptoms) didn't see it or suggest it 4 years ago. This article helped me come to peace with that a little bit. I still find it strange that doctors routinely screen for ADHD over autism, and I think it's because there is medication for ADHD, a quick fix, where ASD takes a lot more time/resources/intervention.
•    Anonymous said… Very common to have both diagnosis. Actually, having only Aspergers is more rare. Aspies usually have a second diagnosis of ADHD, depression, or OCD according to what I have read and seen. My son was diagnosed ADHD at 3 1/2. At that time he was also tested for ASD, but not diagnosed. Within 2 years, he had changed quite a bit, and it then became evident that he also had Aspergers.
•    Anonymous said… Yes, there can be a dual diagnoses. I have a triple one. In our case, it is all evident and true. Asperger's and ADHD. The third one is a attachment/ bonding disorder. All are clearly right on point 100%. Some do not like to diagnose so quick. It is a process that may require a couple of opinions.

Please post your comment below... 


The Connections Between ADHD and ASD

"Are there any connections between ADHD children and those with high functioning autism? My child is diagnosed with ADHD, but he seems to cross over a bit with weak social skills and emotional behavior. How do you determine what is ADHD-related behavior versus autism-related behavior?"

The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) do mimic one another, and there are some connections between ADHD and HFA. In fact, there are dual diagnoses of ADHD and HFA in many cases.

Both of these diagnoses are developmental disorders. They share many of the same behavioral features and both affect children in the areas of behavior, communication, and social interaction. As a result, there is often some confusion as to which disorder is present. Medical, mental health and educational professionals need to be trained to differentiate between the disorders and diagnose the correct one.

Here is a list of the behaviors that may be seen in HFA and/or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
  • Avoids attending to details
  • Behavior driven by impulses
  • Cannot talk or play quietly
  • Constantly active
  • Difficulty interacting with peers
  • Difficulty with appropriate emotional responses
  • Disruptive with others
  • Does not want to wait
  • Exhibits severe temper tantrums
  • Fearlessness
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Has difficulty listening or conversing
  • Impatient
  • Impulsive work effort that results in mistakes
  • Inappropriate laughter
  • Inattentive
  • Inconsistent fine motor skills
  • Interrupts others
  • Makes mistakes in work activities
  • Minimal eye contact
  • Physical over-activity or lack of physical activity
  • Problems with gross/fine motor skills
  • Resistant to intimacy
  • Risk taker
  • Talks and/or acts inappropriately
  • Temper tantrums without provocation
  • Willingly becomes involved in potentially dangerous activities

==> More information on the ASD/ADHD overlap can be found here…

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


•    Anonymous said... Very helpful.
•    Anonymous said... Aspergers is like living in a black and white world. There is no grey area for these kids. It is or it is not and it's hard to reason with them. My son is 8 and has ADHD, aniexty disorder and aspergers. His meltdowns are few as long as we keep a very strick schedule. The school is actually easier then the summer. My son had a melt down at his diving practice the other day when another boy came in and cut him in line. At this age it should get you a little mad but not a tantrum. They can fixate on a topic and won't let it go. My son had an argument with his teacher last year over one thousand and him saying 10 hundred is short for a thousand.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with adhd last week. They also said he's right on the edge of being in the autism spectrum. They suspect high functioning and aspergers but because it was so close he was only diagnosed with adhd right now. He's 5.
•    Anonymous said... Thank you for posting this! My child was diagnosed with ADHD in 1st grade. Last year (4th grade) her resource teacher started questioning Aspergers as well. We will begin testing in 5th grade.
•    Anonymous said… I had the same thing with my child's school. Was a Tough battle do they put it..." we are experienced..." as if we as mothers are so uneducated and don't know our kids you know. Very frustrating.
•    Anonymous said… I have a grandson with ADHD and one with autism. Many similarities.
•    Anonymous said… I think people only react that way to medication because it's being used more often than not, as "the easy way out" to deal with "difficult" children.
•    Anonymous said… I'm wondering how many children have both? We're in the beginnings of getting a diagnosis. They told us adhd vs asd or both. Like other parents, he can sit for hours and read a book, build with Legos and has no problem with attention span when it is something he desires to do or learn. Any input is appreciated. We are 5 months out from our official multidisciplinary evaluation to give us answers. As a nurse, I suspect my nephew has both. Unfortunately, he suffered significant trauma, neglect and abuse and we have been chasing that rabbit down the hole for a long time.
•    Anonymous said… It is important to get the right diagnosis because the education programs implemented in IEPs for ADHD are different than what can be included in ASD educational modification plans.
•    Anonymous said… It took from kindergarten to the end of second grade to get his diagnosis from the school psychiatrist. He was tested for ADHD, language reception, IQ, gifted, etc...all first. If they had just listened to me and tested for ASD at the start he wouldn't have fallen behind Thankfully during that time he had teachers who went above and beyond to accomodate him as best they could until he got an IEP and his third grade teachers got him caught up very quickly.
•    Anonymous said… My dd20 has both and takes meds. I'm offended when people get on their high horse about medication. Some people would not function without them!
•    Anonymous said… my son has ADHD and Aspergers
•    Anonymous said… My son has Aspergers and a diagnosis of ADHD. My daughter also Aspergers, no formal diagnosis of ADHD but it is present.
•    Anonymous said… My son is both too- and yes they do cross over and I wondered exactly the same as you.
•    Anonymous said… My son is both. ADD diagnosed first. Yes they crosssover.
•    Anonymous said… My sons ADHD said out of all her years of practicing she's never had an autistic/ Asperger child not have ADHD- it's hand and glove -- I'm surprised more have not been told this  😬
•    Anonymous said… Personally I think many cases of ADHD are misdiagnosed and are really Aspergers. It's the first thing a school suggests and many parents do not delve any deeper. I knew my son was not ADHD as he could sit for hours focused on a single thing [among other symptoms]. I mentioned when they brought up attention deficit testing that I thought he had a touch of autism and pushed the evaluation in that direction, which greatly displeased the school counselor because she thought otherwise and was all about meds.
•    Anonymous said… Possible to have both. My son does. Sophisticated educational testing which I paid for and evaluation which the school district paid for got to the bottom of it all.
•    Anonymous said… These symptoms do go along with autism much of the time, but I personally think ADHD is over-diagnosed. It's easy to slap that diagnosis on someone who presents with hyperactivity and inattention, but these are often symptoms, rather than an actual diagnosis. For example, hyperactivity and inattention often go along with sensory processing disorder, and SPD affects at least 75% of people with autism. The treatment for ADHD is medication, whereas the treatment for SPD is occupational therapy. Since SPD is prevalent in kids with autism and the treatment differs from that of ADHD, it's important to determine the root of these symptoms in order to correctly treat them.
•    Anonymous said… They are often co morbid diagnoses
•    Anonymous said… Yes and since the upping of toxins into developing babies/brains, a big explosion in both and the severity. Follow the stats. People didn't believe in ADHD either unfortunately. Then they just over prescribed drugs, none of this natural (the numbers, drugs or directly injected neurotoxins). Yuck.
*   Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD at 4-5years of age. I'm looking into an alternative diagnosis because I think they got it wrong!! He is now 9-10years old. Thanks for the article and other comments- I think I'm on the right track!! Understanding HFA could help to prevent the constant WW3 in our home.
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The Difference Between ADHD and Aspergers/HFA

The differences between Aspergers (or HFA) and ADHD are subtle yet distinct. Knowing how to differentiate between the two is important for moms and dads and therapists.

ADHD and Aspergers, also called High-Functioning Autism (HFA), have many similarities on the surface. Both can involve inattentiveness and problem behaviors. In fact, kids on the autism spectrum are often diagnosed with ADHD prior to an autism diagnosis. However, the two disorders are not the same. It is important for therapists to be able to make a thorough differential diagnosis between ADHD and Aspergers/HFA. It is also important for moms and dads to be able to tell the difference in their own kids who have both diagnoses.


By definition, Aspergers/HFA does not include any significant delay in language (as opposed to autism). However, people on the autism spectrun do tend to have distinct differences in how they use language and tend to have language weaknesses that are not typically found in kids with average intelligence who have ADHD alone.

People with Aspergers and HFA tend to have weaknesses in their understanding of non-literal language, such as slang or implied meanings. They also tend to be more verbose and to have more one-sided conversations that are driven by their own topics of interest. They have a harder time taking turns in conversations or talking about a topic of interest to someone else. People with Aspergers and HFA also sometimes display less inflection in their voice.

In contrast, people with ADHD may have interests that they love to talk about and they may love to talk, but their conversations are more reciprocal. They can take conversational turns and they can switch topics to accommodate others' interests more easily. People with ADHD also do not tend to have specific weaknesses in their understanding of and use of non-literal language and speak with normal tone of voice and inflection.

Socialization Differences—

People with Aspergers and HFA tend to have difficulty interpreting non-verbal communication and the more subtle nuances of social situations. For example, they may not easily distinguish between behaviors that may be appropriate in one setting and not in another or they may have difficulty interpreting facial expressions or posturing of others. In contrast, people with ADHD may be distracted and not pay as much attention to those things, but they do understand and interpret them appropriately.

While people with ADHD may be more impulsive and less observant of others' needs, resulting in more misbehaviors, they can easily consider others' perspectives and they easily participate in more reciprocal, or two-sided, social interactions. In contrast, people with Aspergers and HFA tend to be more eccentric and one-sided in their approach to others. It is not that they are indifferent to others but that they really have a harder time considering the perspective of others.

Language and social difficulties for kids on the autism spectrum tend to result in avoidance of many social situations. They have a lot of problems and often do not understand why. Many social situations become way too stressful, especially with peers, and they may prefer adults. Specifically, teaching social skills to these young people is often necessary. Kids with ADHD may have peer conflicts because of behavioral difficulties; however, they are more socially driven.

Sensory Differences—

All individuals tend to have preferred topics of interests or activities. However, for people with Aspergers and HFA, those things can often be all encompassing and get in the way of more functional routines. Their preferred topics or activities also tend to have a sensory seeking quality to them (often visual or tactile) and include repetition. They may also be overly sensitive to things like sound and they may tend to get easily overloaded with sensory input.

Kids with ADHD often respond better to experiences that are highly stimulating. That is why they can sit for hours playing a video game, while attending to schoolwork may be very difficult. However, they tend to process sensory input in a typical manner. People with ADHD do not necessarily seek out sensory experiences in a repetitive or eccentric manner.

Aspergers/HFA versus ADHD—

Aspergers and HFA include many social, communication, and sensory difficulties that are distinct from ADHD. While the two disorders can result in behavioral and social difficulties, it is important for parents and essential for therapists to look beneath the surface and distinguish between them. Evaluations that appropriately differentiate between Aspergers/HFA and ADHD can lead to the most appropriate interventions for kids.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


•    Anonymous said... For some it can be. For others, its like they medication acts differently with there systems. We have one of each. For my daughter, it was cinstant irritability and 3-4x a day meltdowns.
•    Anonymous said... I have 2 diagnosed with aspergers and ADHD. I do wonder sometimes if my son has both diagnosis because of his aspergers. He is inattentive but yet her know everything that is going on around him and even if he appears to not be paying attention he still hears everything that you say. I think that they lack of eye contact and the slow response time makes it appear that he is not paying attention. My daughter on the other hand has most if not all classic ADHD symptoms along with several communication issues.
•    Anonymous said... Interesting... We have HFA, Asperger and possibly ADHD. The speech delay was pronounced, and now the physical attributes of speech making difficulties are present. Nevertheless, the IQ of 120 and very superior level of comprehension and other parts of language arts. Soooo... How all this is possible then?
•    Anonymous said... Just want to point out this. I know they have changed the dignosis, as in Aspergers no longer exists, but one reason I dislike this is because aspergers and HFA are not exactly the same. The difference is, when young, those with HFA have had a language delay, as my 9 year old did. (has HFA diagnosis), And aspies didn't, my eldest son, (diagnosis of aspergers), was saying a handful of words at 6 months, was making small sentances by 9 months, and by 12 months you could have a back and forth conversation. I never knew till he was diagnosed just over 2 years ago, that early and advanced speech can also be a sign of aspergers. By definition, Aspergers does not include any significant delay in language (as opposed to autism). However, people with Aspergers do tend to have distinct differences in how they use language and tend to have language weaknesses that are not typically found in kids with average intelligence who have ADHD alone.. Anyone reading and not knowing very much, (just learning about this), may think their child probably doesn't have HFA, if they have a language delay, because it being said that Aspergers is often called HFA, not realising there are differences between the two, when children are very young. Just wanting to point this out, because I know when the younger of my sons was a toddler, I did think possibley autism, but so much of what I read was confusing...had I known then what I know now, he could have been diagnosed by 12 months, rather than 4 years.
•    Anonymous said... Many kids have Aspergers and ADHD like my daughter. The symptoms can present the same in many cases. You treat the symptoms not the disorder.
•    Anonymous said... One of each in our boys, both very mild, luckily. But it's interesting how it's easier to distinguish when they're right next to each other. More difficult if there's just one around to gauge.
•    Anonymous said... We have found that there is some relief from the ADHD type symptoms in our ASD son with medication, I don't know if it's that way for everyone though.

Amie Putnam said...I have two sons with both ASD and ADHD and a son not on the spectrum with ADHD and anxiety. The latter carried a mistaken ASD diagnosis for nearly 5 years because his symptoms really did look like autism sometimes...but we would notice he never missed social cues, could easily interpret meaning in facial expression, tone of voice, body fact he frequently would "translate" for his brothers when they just didn't get it at all. That was my first big clue that he had been misdiagnosed. We took him to a psychologist last summer who clarified his diagnosis and he does not have ASD. As the article explained, sometimes his behaviors do look the same but the root cause is different. For example, he often does not do well with back and forth conversations, but he knows how and gets that he should, he is just distracted or anxious he will say something dumb. With my aspies, they will talk all day and never stop to think if the person they are talking to is even interested! One last thing, for those of us whose kids have both, I think it is still helpful to figure out which is causing which. Now that my oldest is 19 and he has learned mostly how to read social cues (he has both ASD/ADHD) I have noticed that most of his behavior problems seem to stem from the ADHD side...impulse control, etc and not from the other which is good because there are really good treatment options for ADHD.
Anonymous said... ADHD symptoms and Anxiety are symptoms of Asperger's. The degrees may vary but it's important for people to understand that the root cause is neurological, not psychological
Anonymous said... My daughter has both along with anxiety disorder
Anonymous said... Oh, how I wish I could hand this article to everyone who thinks my child is "bad" and, by extension, thinks I'm a "bad" parent. I just want to tell them sometimes: "Welcome to my world. Don't judge my child or our family until you've lived our lives."
Anonymous said...I had to share something along the same lines ADHD/Aspergers with the school my son was attending, and I felt their eyes glaze over, like they were saying "speak to the hand". Some times I feel the schools are so closed minded because they are familiar with ADHD and Aspergers is so "new" and they have their hands so full that they wont take the time to learn about Aspergers/autism.
Anonymous said...It is especially painful when your own partner do not see what you know about your ADHD child and it makes especially difficult when he takes the sides of close minded teacher and blame the kid for being rude and undiscipline and blaming MOM for spoiling the kid. This whole thing is so painful!!!
Anonymous son is dxed Aspie, ADD/ADHD, and OCD. However, he is highly functional and verbal. He LOVES his friends, but struggles to reciprocate. He would rather be with kids his own age, but he wants them to do what HE wants to do and doesn't understand why he can't always play HIS games.
Anonymous said...Oh, how I wish I could hand this article to everyone who thinks my child is "bad" and, by extension, thinks I'm a "bad" parent. I just want to tell them sometimes: "Welcome to my world. Don't judge my child or our family until you've lived our lives." You nailed it---thats EXACTLY how I feel :(
Christina Steltz said....What treatment options worked for your son...mines 8 and he had a brain injury at 5 months...also he kept getting pink eye...over and over...found out it was coming from the sand box. I would really like to know the cause of my son's pro less before I go putting the meds in his brain. But then again I want to help my son asap. This is so hard...I feel for everyone who has to go through this.
So true I'm going through same thing with my daughter
Tiffany Smith said...We are in same situation they are trying to figure out what all going on its ADHD and aspegers at the moment not sure on the other autism just yet just waiting on more test and stuff.
Unknown said...I live overseas I have a son who dud not want to breastfeed , he would cry like crazy. Later he did not crowl and when he walked he walked on tip toes. He never investigated his world through his mouth like mist babies. Feeding was tough especialky passing from mashed foods to whole. Still is does not like specific tectures. Interactions with other kids was hard I had always to introduce him myself. Has anxiety , some fears and starting to be hostile to me ( mother) was diagnosed with ADHD with depression and low self asteem. I also have ADHD that makes it hard. I am wondering if he has Aspergers. My peditrician did not refuse the option....I am confused. Are sensory and social problems a reason? Also he still at 8 now does not want to wipe himself and is slow in personal care. Has sense of humor and good in athletics but not in team sports.
Unknown son is dxed Aspie, ADD/ADHD, and OCD.However, he is highly functional and verbal. He LOVES his friends, but struggles to reciprocate. He would rather be with kids his own age, but he wants them to do what HE wants to do and doesn't understand why he can't always play HIS games.My son is at the beginning of the diagnosing process (for ADHD and AS) and he is the same which makes some of the people we see try and tell me that he is normal and just naughty, that he needs to think about others and that he can't have it all his way all of the time, needs to share, etc. If anything goes wrong, he is the first to be blamed .

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Is it High-Functioning Autism, ADHD -- or Both?

“My high functioning autistic son has difficulty paying attention in school (3rd grade). He is also somewhat hyper most of the time. My husband and I are beginning to wonder if he has ADHD instead of – or in addition to – high functioning autism. Are these two disorders similar? And do some high functioning autistics also get the ADHD diagnosis?”

Hyperactivity and inattention are common in kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA), particularly in early childhood. Differential diagnostic considerations are paramount, particularly in the context of HFA.

Hyperactivity and inattention are seen in a variety of other disorders (e.g., developmental receptive language disorders, anxiety, and depression). Therefore, the appearance of inattention or hyperactivity does not point exclusively to ADHD.

The compatibility of the child and his school curriculum is particularly important when evaluating symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. There is a risk that a school program that is poorly matched to the child’s needs (by overestimating or underestimating his abilities) may be frustrating, boring, or unrewarding. If the verbal or social demands exceed what he can manage, they may produce anxiety or other problems that mimic inattention or induce hyperactivity.

Some experts believe that HFA and ADHD are themselves both spectrum disorders, with bleary margins wrapped around core characteristics that can’t be quantified. There is a large overlap in symptomology between the two. Approximately 65 % of kids with HFA have symptoms which are compatible with an ADHD diagnosis.

The problem with the ADHD and HFA overlap is that at the more severe margins of the ADHD spectrum and the less extreme margins of the autism spectrum, professionals can legitimately argue for one over the other diagnosis.

Many kids with severe ADHD can be obsessed with Nintendo, can be bullied and teased, have meltdowns at the drop of a hat, have no friends, have severe sensory integration problems, lack perspective-taking skills, can be socially aberrant, and talk constantly and too loudly (just like HFA children).

Young people with ADHD can have as bad - or worse - executive functioning skills as HFA kids. Kids with ADHD often have verbal IQ which are much better than their performance IQs (just like HFA kids). The child with ADHD shares a great many neurocognitive features with the HFA child, and that is one reason why neuropsychological testing by itself is not the best way to make a diagnosis of HFA.

In general, HFA kids “have more” than most kids with ADHD (i.e., more neuro-integrative problems, more perseveration, more splinter skills, more stereotypies, and more trouble telling a coherent story). If you suspect that your HFA child may also be experiencing the symptoms of ADHD, consult a child and adolescent psychiatrist for an evaluation (preferably one who specializes in autism spectrum disorders).

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


•    Anonymous said... My boy has both as well. Once we got his ADD under control, we had an easier time with the other.
•    Anonymous said... My daughter was borderline ADHD w/ Anxiety first before the Aspergers diagnosis. I definitely see some crossover symptoms between the two.
•    Anonymous said... My son has also been diagnosed with both.
•    Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed with ADHD first and then Aspergers about 2 years later.
•    Anonymous said... These two are co-morbid! There is some cross over but definitely worth looking into
•    Anonymous said... Very common with ADD or ADHD together with aspergers. My daugther has ADHD+aspergers, and my son got ADD+Aspergers. She needs to address these issues with the child's doctor to get the added diagnosis, there are good medications that might help, my son had much help from it, my daughter was too little when we first tried, it didn't fair to well, so I wanted to wait til she got older (which would be now) and try again at age 10.

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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


•    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.

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