ASD and Autism Found New Algorithm Sorting Method (Source: Spectrum News)

Autism and Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder, commonly abbreviated to ADHD, share similar behavioral patterns, such as repetitive behavior and hyperactivity, as well as similar genes. A recent study, geared toward both autism and ADHD, showed how a new method of finding treatments is taking a different angle on the matter.

A new method for finding treatment centers on a child’s abilities as opposed to diagnosis, allowing for more personal treatments to be found. The method’s source is a computerized algorithm that differentiates ADHD and autism patients, an issue in the past for caregivers. They are separated based off of their cognitive skills such as working short-term memory, self-control, and the ability to change your thought process from task to task, called mental flexibility.

The researchers analyzed the skills of 97 children on the autism spectrum, 86 diagnosed with ADHD, and 139 averagely developing children. All participants were between the ages of 8 and 13. Their skills were found through parental surveys such as the Child Behavior Checklist and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function. The researchers looked at the children’s impulsive activity, inattention, hyperactivity, and how they respond emotionally.

Through the computer algorithm, the children were sorted into three groups. One group had low mental flexibility and emotional control, another had low working memory, and the last group had children that were impulsive, hyper, and inattentive. All groups had a mix of ADHD, autism, and control participants.

The study was lead by Chandan Vaidya, professor of psychology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

“Diagnostic boundaries don’t work because there is so much overlap [in symptoms]. What if, instead, we start segregating people in terms of their functional properties?” Vaidya said. “All of us have things that we are better at and things that we are worse at. The psychopathology of autism and ADHD is just sitting on top of that normal variation.

The researchers also used a fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging, to compare the scans of children’s brains as their executive functions were used. They analyzed 21 children with autism, 15 with ADHD, and 48 average controls. They found that the brain activity was different for participants in the function based categories or groups.

“Hopefully, the day will come where we no longer have diagnostic categories, and we focus instead on the child’s domain of dysfunction,” Vaidya says.

For more information, check out the source for this blog post, Spectrum News.

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