Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are two conditions that are most commonly confused with each other. Since both conditions share some common features, it gets difficult to distinguish them from each other.
Although Autism and ADHD are distinct conditions, it is possible for them to occur together.
Let’s take a look at some commonalities as well as differences between both conditions.
How are Autism and ADHD similar?
Children with ADHD and Autism may face problems pertaining to communication, social interactions, and emotional regulation.
For example, they may both face problems with focusing their attention on a particular task. On the surface this does look like a commonality between the two conditions, however, at a deeper level, the reasons behind the same are different.
Understanding these reasons may be the key to determining whether your child has ADHD or Autism. Children with Autism may find it difficult to focus on a particular task due to their limited scope of interest and thus find it difficult to pay attention to tasks that do not interest them.
On the other hand, children with ADHD face problems with concentration for a wide range of tasks because they have problems with sustaining attention.
Hence, when it comes to identifying Autism or ADHD, it is incredibly important to get to the root cause of why your child behaves the way they do. Understanding this cause will help give you more clarity into your child’s symptoms.
How are Autism and ADHD different?
Unlike Autism, ADHD is not a developmental condition. Also, ADHD is not a spectrum disorder. But it does produce a wide range of symptoms in individuals.
Both conditions may show differences in the following aspects –
Children with Autism may struggle with understanding social cues or have less social awareness. They may also struggle with deciphering what the other person may be feeling based on nonverbal signs.
Children with ADHD, on the other hand, are more likely to talk nonstop without giving the other person a chance to contribute to the conversation. An important point to consider here would be the topic of conversation. You may notice the same symptom in an autistic child when the topic of conversation revolves around something they love.
Restrictive or Repetitive Behavior
As we know, repetitive behaviors, sometimes manifested in the form of repetitive motor movements or interests, are some common characteristics of Autism. This can be observed through behaviors like hand flapping or lining up toys.
Restrictive or repetitive behavior is not a common symptom of ADHD. However, it is important to consider that children with ADHD might show behaviors like repeatedly folding and unfolding their arms. This is indicative of restlessness, which is one of the symptoms of ADHD.
Autistic children demonstrate an insistence for sameness when it comes to their daily routines and activities. They largely prefer a consistent and structured routine. These children may show irritability or discomfort if this routine is disturbed.
In contrast, most children with ADHD find it difficult to stick to a routine or perform activities that follow a particular structure and remain unchanged. They may quickly lose interest in these activities or find them boring.
Although Autism and ADHD share some common features, both of these are two distinct conditions. If you suspect that your child may have ADHD or Autism, a good way to start is by consulting your child’s pediatrician. They may further refer you to a specialist.
To diagnose either of these conditions a detailed assessment is necessary. This may include a detailed inquiry into current symptoms along with a history of these symptoms, tests, checklists, and medical exams to rule out other physical causes.
Remember that you play an important role in your child’s diagnostic journey. This process can be difficult for parents and children alike; and hence, your child will count on you for emotional support.
Trust in the fact that you know your child best and that whatever path you pick for them will be the right one. You are your child’s best advocate, after all.
Don’t hesitate to talk to your child’s doctor if you feel unsure or need some extra help in making sense of the diagnosis.