Children diagnosed with autism tend to have comorbid disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and for the focus of this conversation: ADHD. A new study at Massachusetts General Hospital yielded results concluding that 1 in 5 children with ADHD also exemplified autistic tendencies, including language delays, and social impairments.
Participants were selected from a large scale sample, including 242 kids, aged 6 to 18, with ADHD as well as 227 kids for a control group, without ADHD. The children were not previously diagnosed with autism. The children and their parents answered questions and filled out surveys regarding behavior, to be compared to definitions of autism. After the calculations were complete, the researchers found that 18% of the children diagnosed with ADHD showed autistic traits, compared to .87% from the control group. The children with ADHD exemplified deficits socially, getting into more fights with peers, rejection by peers, and behavior issues at school and in the home. Planning and organizing also showed to be an issue with this population.
Dr. Joseph Biederman of the study, who is the director of the pediatric psychopharmacology unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, suggests,
“These children are not having the full diagnosis of autism, but they have symptoms of autism. It may be important to screen children with ADHD for autistic traits because they may need more support, particularly in the educational and interpersonal domains…The genetic markers for ADHD have also been associated with autism. These autistic traits may be present in other conditions as well.” [i]
Further research on this subject can lead to findings on the genetic links in autism and ADHD, and provide better treatment for children with ADHD who are still struggling even with the use of medicine.
[i] “US News” More links seen between autism, ADHD. 26 Aug 2013. Web. <http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/08/26/more-links-seen-between-autism-adhd>