Autism vs. ADHD: A Parent’s Guide to Tricky Diagnoses

Social delays. Communication difficulties. Repetitive behaviors. What’s behind them: ADHD? Autism? Both? When conditions overlap, parents need an intimate understanding of each diagnosis to manage treatment – and everyday life.

The Similarities Between ADHD and Autism


The overlap of ADHD symptoms and autism symptoms have confused many families. When a child can’t sit still for homework or a meal, or stay put in class, when he fidgets or talks too much and too insistently, most parents and educators, tutors, and coaches think, “This kid must have ADD!”

The first explanation most doctors arrive at is also attention deficit disorder. The condition is familiar, it’s been around for a long time, and there are effective strategies to manage it. It is important to remember, however, that almost any psychological or developmental disorder of childhood can look like ADHD, with or without the hyperactivity. Kids under stress, due to learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, or sensory integration problems, may exhibit the same symptoms. It takes a skillful evaluation to tease out explanations for the behaviors.

Next: Diagnosing Autism


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TAGS: Comorbid Conditions with ADD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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