According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects at least 6.1 million children in the United States.

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64% of children with ADHD also have another mental, emotional, or behavioral condition affecting them. For example, 14% of children suffering from ADHD will also be affected by autism spectrum disorder. These two maladies are often misunderstood or seen as the same thing when they are in fact two different conditions. The similarities between the two conditions have been blamed for these misunderstandings. However, let’s see if we can bring out and highlight the differences between autism and ADHD.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder affecting 11% of children [1*] in the U.S. and at least 5% of adults. People impaired by ADHD suffer from neurological development and often have trouble with control, organization, and focus. Put simply, ADHD is an impairment of the brain’s self-management system.

What’s Autism?

Autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a wide range of developmental conditions that result in challenges in speech, behavior, learning, and social interaction. 1 in 54 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism. The causes of ASD have been linked to genetics and children born to elderly parents.

ADHD and Autism similar symptoms

Common Symptoms of ADHD and Autism

Autism and ADHD Differences

Autism can be categorized as a behavioral disease whereas neuroscience has deemed that ADHD is not a behavior disorder. People with autism often have learning challenges whereas those with ADHD according to clinical research have no specific learning disability.

Autistic children may struggle to concentrate on activities they don’t like for example completing puzzles and reading books. Regarding the things they like doing, autistic children will focus without difficulty. On the other hand, children with ADHD will shy away from anything that involves having to concentrate on something.

How your child is progressing with communication is another way you can differentiate between ADHD and autism. Autistic children tend to struggle with being aware of others in their playgroup or those around them.

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Social awareness levels are low and finding the right words to express themselves might prove problematic. In addition, it is often challenging for them to make eye contact with others.

Where communication and ADHD is concerned, children with ADHD may want to converse in an incessant manner. Disrupting others, interjecting, and attempting to monopolize conversations is common. On topics that they are fond of such kids may speak non-stop for hours on end.

Another key difference manifests itself in routine. Autistic children enjoy order and repetition while ADHD sufferers dislike rote tasks. Children who are autistic might have no problem eating the same food, doing the same things, or playing with the same toys all the time. In fact, many autistic children show visible signs of distress and being upset when routines have to be changed. A child with ADHD dislikes repetition and struggles to keep doing the same thing for long periods of time.

 Treatments for ADHD

Effective Treatments for ADHD

Autism and ADHD Diagnosis

If you’re an adult suspecting that you may be autistic, or a parent with a child you think may have one of these conditions, how do you go about finding out for sure? Should you simply do an online test? While these online tests can be telling, ideally your doctor is the best person to talk to about any concerns you may have. In addition to attempting to diagnose autism or ADHD, your doctor will carry out a comprehensive analysis to rule out other conditions.

Feedback, monitoring, and evaluations are key for a diagnosis to be made. For autistic diagnosis, the child’s caregiver will need to complete a questionnaire giving information about the child. This questionnaire will ask about a child’s behavior particularly from when they were younger. Additional tests and interviews may be scheduled until a definitive answer can be given.

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Autism and ADHD Treatment

While there is no treatment to get rid of autism or ADHD’ there are treatment options that can significantly help to manage symptoms. Because every child and adult exhibiting autistic or ADHD symptoms are different there is no generic treatment. Medication will be prescribed based on individual needs and requirements. Additionally, the medication prescribed to address autism or ADHD might change with time as one gets older.

Therapy in its various forms – behavioral, speech, occupational and sensory integration has been shown to be helpful when started early for autistic children.

EzCare Clinic is committed to providing support to adults with ADHD. We provide clinical testing to help diagnose these conditions and offer personalized treatment plans. Schedule an appointment with our medical team today.


+1 sources
  1. What Is ADHD? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adults. (2019)
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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.