A Positive Correlation between ADHD and Autism

Posted on November 17, 2017

Photo: Pexels

The relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was explained in a recent study by Dr. Tom Stafford and Professor Paul Overton from the University of Sheffield, which was published in the "Journal of Attention Disorders". Adults who reported more hyperactivity and inattention symptoms also reported more autism spectrum condition related behaviors, such as difficulties in communication, etc.

ADHD is deemed the most common neurodevelopmental disorder and symptoms persist into adult for about half of the children diagnosed with the disorder. Main characteristics of ADHD include attentional difficulties and hyperactive and/or impulsive behavior.

ASD is a developmental disorder which greatly affects development. It mostly happens in 3 main areas: language ability, social interaction and stereotyped/repetitive behaviors.

ADHD and ASD often share genetic susceptibility and co-occur, as suggested by clinic and genetic studies. This means serious business as both disorders can be viewed as the extreme end of traits found in the general population.

In the research study done, the co-occurance of both ADHD and ASD traits were examined within a healthy adult population. 334 respondents had to complete a number of online questionnaires which measured their retrospective (childhood) and current ADHD and ASD symptoms and behaviors. Results showed a positive correlation between both childhood and current ADHD traits and Autistic symptoms. Particularly, respondents who scored higher on the ADHD scale had also reported problems with communication and social skills. The only Autistic symptoms that were not associated with the ADHD scores was related to attention to detail and this suggests that aside from the strong positive relationship between the traits and behaviors of ADHD and Autism, the tendency to focus on detail might only apply to Autism. Previous studies on clinical population also showed a significant overlap between these two conditions and this study goes on to further show that this can be applied to the general population as well.

The full publication:
Panagiotidi, M., Overton, P. G., & Stafford, T. (2017). Co-occurrence of ASD and ADHD traits in an adult population. Journal of Attention Disorders. Advance Online Publication. doi: 10.1177/1087054717720720

Category(s):Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism spectrum disorders

Source material from Open Forest

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