ADHD News & Research

Study: Medication Effectively Treats ADHD Symptoms in Adults with Comorbid Autism

Researchers from the Netherlands found that ADHD medication is effective and safe for treating ADHD symptoms in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and comorbid autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

October 31, 2019

ADHD medication is safe and effective at treating ADHD symptoms in adults with comorbid autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, according to a new study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders from the Radboud University Medical Center.1 Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is the second most common comorbid disorder in adults with autism.2

Researchers compared 226 clinic patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) to 60 adults from the same outpatient clinic who had ADHD and comorbid autism spectrum disorder. Both groups received a similar treatment regimen, which comprised methylphenidate, dexamphetamine, atomoxetine, bupropion, or modafinil.

The effectiveness of each medication was determined by administering an ADHD test — namely, the Connors ADHD Rating Scale: Self-Report Short Version — before and after treatment. The patients with ADHD and autism experienced a mean reduction of 24.6% on this ADHD index; the ADHD-only group saw a reduction of 31.3%. Controlling for the variables of gender, age, and ADHD subtype (hyperactive, inattentive, or combined), a comorbid diagnosis of autism still did not significantly hamper the ability of medication to achieve ADHD symptom reduction.

These results support current guidelines, which recommend using the same treatment regime for adults with ADHD and autism, and those with just ADHD.

View Article Sources

1 Muit, J. J. et al. Pharmacotherapy of ADHD in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Effectiveness and Side Effects. Journal of Attention Disorders (Oct. 2019).

2 (Gargaro, Rinehart, Bradshaw, Tonge, & Sheppard, 2011Leyfer et al., 2006Sinzig, Walter, & Doepfner, 2009)