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ADHD Behavior in Autism

ADHD or similar behaviors are very common among children with autism. Studies have estimated that between 37% – 85% of children with autism exhibit symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with ADHD symptoms particularly common for preschool age children. While ADHD is not itself a symptom of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is among the most common comorbidities, or coexisting conditions, with autism.

ADHD versus Autism

While ASD and ADHD are both developmental disorders that can affect attention, and even though they often occur alongside one another, they are two different conditions with distinct sets of symptoms. Children with ADHD may be easily distracted, struggle to focus or concentrate, have difficulty sitting still, or other symptoms. On the other hand, children exhibiting symptoms of autism may not respond to common stimuli, may have impaired social interaction, engage in repetitive movements, or other behaviors that could be mistaken for ADHD.

Because autism and ADHD can have similar symptoms, it is easy for parents to caretakers to confuse symptoms or one disorder with symptoms of the other. Symptoms or behaviors that a parent interprets as signs of ADHD could, in truth, be signs of autism or vice versa. It is also not unusual for a typically developing child to experience bouts of inattentiveness or hyperactivity. Treatment options for autism and ADHD differ significantly, so when it comes to symptoms relating to attention, evaluations are best left to a trained psychologist.

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