Autism and ADHD are both neurodevelopmental disorders that can affect child’s social, emotional, and academic development and that are both more common among male than female. ADHD is the most common coexisting condition in autistic children. As a matter of fact, over 50% of autistic people also show signs of ADHD. Still co-occurring autism and ADHD is more common in children than in adults. This article cover how autism and ADHD are similar and different, how are they are diagnosed and what are the various treatment options for those affected by both autism and ADHD.
How are autism and ADHD different and same?
Children with autism and ADHD can both have difficulties concentrating and focusing on things, but while those diagnosed with ADHD typically find it hard to focus on anything for a long period of time, autistic children may only have trouble concentrating on some topics and can actually have hyper focus towards topics that really interest them.
Also, both autistic and children with ADHD can also have social problems but they may look quite different. While autistic children may lack understanding of social rules such as turn taking or talking about topics that interest other people, children with ADHD tend to be aware of such rules but may get in trouble with other people because they talk non-stop. Autistic children frequently have a hard time understanding gestures and may not be able to understand in what situations people tend to feel happy or sad. Children with ADHD on the other hand usually have no difficulties using and interpreting gestures or body language and can typically tell how other people feel just by looking at their face.
You can also tell autism and ADHD apart by the way they feel about order and repetitive things. Autistic children typically love routines, and order, whereas children diagnosed with ADHD tend to get bored easily and don’t seem to be bothered by a messy room.
Children are typically diagnosed with autism much earlier than with ADHD. A typical age for autism diagnoses is 2-5 and at that age parents commonly report that their child has delayed language development, restricted, repetitive motor or verbal behaviors, and difficulties in their social interactions. An autistic child may also avoid eye contact and may dislikes being held.
ADHD, on the other hand, is not typically diagnosed until a child has started school. At that age parents and teachers report that a child shows signs of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. Unlike many autistic children, people with ADHD tend to be interested in other people and actively seek interactions with their peers and parents.
Diagnosis of both autism and ADHD lies heavily on parental reports and can be done based on questionnaires and/or clinical interviews. When it comes to ADHD, also child’s teacher or the child themselves may be given a questionnaire. When diagnosing autism, psychologist can also observe how a child interacts with other people. The clinician will also look rule out other conditions, such as anxiety, learning disabilities, or depression that may show similar signs and symptoms than autism or ADHD.
To be diagnosed with autism, the child must meet specific standards for social communication and interaction and restricted and repetitive behavior. To be diagnosed with ADHD, the child must meet the criteria for inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. The diagnosis of both autism and ADHD can be complicated, and it is vital to seek help from a child psychiatrist and neurologist or psychologist who is specialized in both of these conditions. Only such person can diagnosis both conditions and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Treating autism and ADHD
Treating autistic kids with ADHD can be a challenge due to the complexity of both disorders. ADHD symptoms can impede a child’s ability to focus and learn, making it difficult for them to benefit from interventions for autism. Similarly, the social and communication deficits associated with autism can make it difficult for a child to benefit from treatments for ADHD. It can also be challenging to determine the best course of treatment for a child with both conditions. The treatments for autism and ADHD are different, and it is essential to consider the child’s individual needs when developing a plan. For example, some medications used to treat ADHD can worsen the symptoms of autism, so it is essential to consider any potential side effects before starting a medication. Another challenge is that some interventions and treatments may not be covered by insurance (Antshel & Russo, 2019). This can make it difficult for families to access the services they need. It is also essential to consider the cost of treatments and therapies and determine what resources are available to help cover them. Finally, it can be challenging to find qualified professionals who are experienced in treating autism and ADHD. Looking for professionals with experience and expertise in both disorders is essential.
Behavioral Interventions for Kids
The behavioral interventions focus on helping the child learn to identify and manage their behaviors and develop skills to help them succeed in different situations. These interventions typically involve a combination of individual and group therapies. Individual therapy can help the child identify and manage their behaviors and develop social and communication skills. Group therapy can help the child learn to interact with others and develop problem-solving skills. The goals of behavioral interventions for autistic kids with ADHD typically include helping the child improve their self-control, reduce impulsivity, and manage their emotions (Schroeder, 2022). Behavioral interventions can also help the child learn to express their needs better, recognize appropriate social behavior, and develop positive relationships. These interventions for autistic kids with ADHD can effectively help them learn to manage their behavior and develop social and communication skills. It is essential to find a qualified professional who is experienced in treating autism and ADHD to ensure the best outcomes.
Medications for Kids
Medications can be an effective treatment for autistic kids with ADHD. These medications can help reduce the symptoms of both disorders and improve functioning. However, it is essential to note that medications are not a cure for either condition and should be combined with behavioral interventions. Stimulant medications are the most commonly used medications for treating ADHD in autistic kids (Antshel & Russo, 2019). These medications work by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can help improve focus and attention. Stimulant medications can also help reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity. Non-stimulant medications are also sometimes used to treat ADHD in autistic kids. Non-stimulant medications can help improve focus and attention and reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity. It is essential to talk to a doctor before starting any medications for a child with autism and ADHD. The doctor can help determine the best type and dosage of medication for the child and any
potential side effects.
Supportive Care Kids
Supportive care is any care or service that can help a child better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Supportive care for autistic kids with ADHD typically includes counseling, psychotherapy, and family therapy. Counseling and psychotherapy can help the child manage their symptoms, develop social and communication skills, and cope with their emotions (Zablotsky et al., 2020). Family therapy can help the child’s family better understand and manage the child’s behavior. Other types of supportive care for autistic kids with ADHD can include occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. Occupational therapy can help the child develop skills that can help them in daily life. Physical therapy can help the child with coordination and balance. Speech therapy can help the child improve their communication skills. Supportive care can be an essential part of treating autism and ADHD.
Social and Academic Adjustments for Kids
These adjustments can help the child better manage their symptoms, succeed in school, and develop relationships. For social adjustments, it can be helpful to create a plan for how the child will interact with others. This plan should include strategies for how the child can respond to different scenarios and situations. It can also be helpful to have a support system of family, friends, and professionals who can help the child navigate social situations (Zablotsky et al., 2020). For academic adjustments, it can be beneficial to create a plan for how the child will manage their schoolwork. This plan should include strategies for the child to stay organized, manage their time, and complete their assignments. It can also be helpful to create a schedule of when the child will do their work and breaks. These adjustments can help the child succeed in school and develop relationships.
Parental Education Kids
Parents need to understand both disorders and how they affect their children. This can help them better manage the child’s behavior and develop strategies to help the child succeed. It can also help the parents recognize any potential warning signs of a problem and take appropriate action (Martin et al., 2019). Parental education can include reading materials, attending seminars and workshops, and participating in support groups. It can also involve meeting with professionals who are experienced in treating both autism and ADHD. Parental education can help parents better understand and manage their child’s disorder and provide them with the support and resources they need.
Communication Strategies for Kids
Communication strategies can effectively help autistic kids with ADHD better manage their symptoms and succeed in different situations. These strategies can include visual cues, breaking down tasks into smaller parts, and using a calm and patient approach. It can also be helpful to use positive reinforcement and praise to encourage desired behaviors (Martin et al., 2019). It is essential to be aware of any communication deficits the child may have and to adjust the strategies accordingly. For example, if the child has difficulty understanding verbal instructions, it can be helpful to provide written directions. These strategies can help the child better manage their behaviors and develop communication skills.
Occupational and Physical Therapy for Kids
Occupational therapy can help the child develop skills that can help them in daily life, such as self-care and organizational skills. Physical therapy can help the child improve coordination and balance. Both types of treatment can help the child develop social and communication skills and improve their physical functioning. It is essential to find a qualified professional who is experienced in treating autism and ADHD. The therapist should be able to tailor the treatment to the individual needs of the child and develop a plan to help them succeed.
Impact of ADHD on Autistic Kids’ Development
ADHD can make it difficult for the child to pay attention, stay focused, and control their impulses. This can make it difficult for the child to benefit from interventions and treatments for autism. It can also make it difficult for the child to succeed in school, interact with others, and develop relationships (Zablotsky et al., 2020). The symptoms of ADHD can also interfere with the child’s ability to learn new skills and develop age-appropriate behaviors. It is essential to be aware of the impact of ADHD on the child’s development and to find ways to manage the symptoms and help the child succeed.
Autistic kids diagnosed with ADHD can face many challenges. It can be difficult to diagnose and treat both conditions due to the complexity of the disorders. It is essential to seek help from an experienced professional who can accurately diagnose the child and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Behavioral interventions and medications can effectively help the child manage their symptoms and succeed in different situations (Zablotsky et al., 2020). Supportive care and parental education can also be essential to treating autism and ADHD. Finally, it is crucial to be aware of the impact of ADHD on the child’s development and to find ways to manage the symptoms and help the child succeed.
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