Autism and ADHD

About a third of children who have autism also have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a study published in June 2013 in Autism: The International Journal and Practice.

This is the first study that begins following infants and toddlers before any diagnosis, and continues through their eighth birthday. The study followed 162 patients, of which 63 were diagnosed with autism, and 18 (29 percent) also had “clinically significant” symptoms of ADHD.

Nicole McLain, director of The School for Asperger’s/HFA at Trident Academy says, “I feel like further research is needed to make a confident statement on the two being linked.  Because children with autism have difficulty with joint attention, communication, and executive functioning skills, I feel that the two diagnoses can be difficult to differentiate. I’d recommend a careful examination by a qualified practitioner be conducted before this diagnosis is given.”

This study highlights the insight Trident Academy leaders showed in locating a school for students with learning differences and a school for Asperger’s/HFA in one building. Both diagnoses benefit from behavioral treatment and classroom accommodations, which are provided in both schools. Teachers with decades of experience teaching students with ADHD can work hand-in-hand with specialists and teachers of the HFA students for the best result possible.

Looking forward, McLain says, “I am eager to see these studies continue where correlations are compared and contrasted on various levels, such as biological, neurological, behavioral, and environmental.  We are getting so close to understanding these populations in a deeper sense and these researchers are leading the way to some significant and meaningful development in the field.”

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