Where Is the Overlap Between Autism and ADHD

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The overlap between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is substantial. Approximately 62% of students with ASD also exhibit symptoms of ADHD, complicating diagnosis and treatment for individual conditions. Understanding the overlap between the two disorders is crucial to more effective screening and early identification.

In addition, when parenting children with ADHD, it is important to establish consistent routines, provide clear instructions, and offer positive reinforcement to help them manage their symptoms effectively. For more information on parenting techniques and tips, visit this website.

The Overlap Between ADHD and ASD

ASD and ADHD are neurological disorders rooted in genetic mutations, deletions, and insertions that disrupt synaptic function. For this reason, they are both considered inheritable diseases. Identifying either disorder in parents can help educators diagnose children.

Structural differences in the brain are also associated with both conditions, primarily affecting functional, emotional, and behavioral aspects. These differences often manifest as variations in the volume of gray matter in specific brain regions. However, each disorder seems to impact distinct areas of the brain.

Additionally, both groups are more likely to experience mental health struggles than the general population, typically manifesting as depression or anxiety disorder. However, early intervention can reduce the emotional impact of ADHD and autism and support positive mental health outcomes.

Overlapping Symptoms

There are also several areas where symptoms overlap between the two. For example, both can cause the following symptoms:

  • Trouble communicating
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Problems with eating
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Trouble switching from one task to another

However, the presentation of symptoms varies significantly among individuals. Despite the significant overlap, each disorder has a distinct set of symptoms that require diagnosis and appropriate support.

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Many mistakenly think of ADHD as being characterized by high-energy, constantly active children. However, the symptoms of the disorder run deeper. As a result of the inability to focus on details, a short attention span, and forgetfulness, people with ADHD may struggle to stay on task or accurately follow directions.

Historically, many individuals with ADHD remained undiagnosed until later in life, once they recognized the symptoms and sought treatment. Assessments such as the Conners’ Adult ADHD Rating Scales (CAARS) are valuable tools for identifying ADHD in adults across a wide age range (18 to 80 years).

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define Autism Spectrum Disorder as a developmental disability that affects social interactions, learning ability, and restrictive behavior patterns. For some individuals, the symptoms of ASD can be severely debilitating, while others may exhibit milder symptoms or cope more effectively.

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder include repetitive behavior, a rigid focus on routine, atypical eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty with language acquisition. Unlike ADHD, healthcare professionals can give an ASD diagnosis to very young children who fail to meet specific developmental markers. Early diagnosis is critical for implementing timely interventions and support strategies.

Professional Assessments to Identify ADHD and ASD

WPS provides professional assessment to assist educators in identifying and supporting at-risk students. Autism assessments like the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule™, Second Edition (ADOS®-2), and similar tools are available to aid in the identification of ASD. Learn more about how WPS supports academic success for children using these assessments and others.

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