View Full Version : What is exactly the real difference between Autism and ADHD?


marygates
01-24-17, 09:35 AM
I have heard these two are quite similar in traits, but how can we put them apart and compare, can this also be Comorbid with ADHD?

Little Missy
01-24-17, 09:37 AM
Is this a test? :scratch:

Lunacie
01-24-17, 10:59 AM
Yes, a good number of people have both autism/asperger's and adhd.
I suspect I'm one of them, severe adhd and high-functioning autism.
Plus anxiety and depression and PTSD ... there is so much overlap in
symptoms among all these disorders.

Shadwell
01-24-17, 12:02 PM
....All tied in with the Vagus Nerve. You'll all probably have food intolerances as well.

kilted_scotsman
01-24-17, 12:33 PM
Remember that ADHD is a symptoms cluster......

People who have the symptom cluster for ADHD also often have the behavioural symptoms of High Functioning Autism/Aspergers.

In short..... the difference is in the description of the symptom cluster.

Lunacie
01-24-17, 01:57 PM
....All tied in with the Vagus Nerve. You'll all probably have food intolerances as well.

I've never seen information on a link between mental health disorders and the vagus nerve.
Do you have any links you could share?

I have boucoup scent intolerance, very little food intolerance.

Fraser_0762
01-24-17, 02:56 PM
I'm diagnosed with Aspergers and Dyspraxia. I would say that Dyspraxia has much more in common with ADHD than Autism and is believed to have a co-mobrid rate of around 80-85%.

Aspergers (or high functioning autism) is characterized with having difficulties in picking up body language and social cues that most people take for granted. As far as i'm aware, people with ADHD (without high functioning autism) don't have quite the same problem. They may be inattentive to other peoples body language, or perhaps even their own. But they can pick up on these things when they concentrate, people with high functioning autism simply cannot, as it has nothing to do with concentration, but a deformation in the area of the brain which controls the subconscious pick up of social cues and behaviours.

There are people out there with high functioning autism who have no issues concentrating on things when it's required. They may spend a lot of time obsessing over special interests which may serve as a distraction, but it's not beyond them to focus on other things when it really matters.

Drewbacca
01-24-17, 03:35 PM
....All tied in with the Vagus Nerve. You'll all probably have food intolerances as well.

This is speculation on your part and besides that, has nothing to do with the question being asked. For one, the OP asked for the DIFFERENCE...
But I don't mean to give you a hard time. Once you reach the post limit, you can start a new thread on this specific topic if you like. Or someone will start it for you if you prefer? Either way, welcome to ADD_F.

ADHD is a disorder of attention... and often coupled with hyperactivity. More than anything else, that is what defines it. Also fidgeting, talking out of turn, and other symptoms can also be seen within the Autism spectrum.

Autism can have an inattentive element, but it is more of a social disorder with a lot of communication problems. Odd and repetitive behaviors are also common.

Someone with ADHD is probably more likely to be self-aware that there's a problem while someone with Autism won't necessarily understand their behavior as being odd or out of place. It's hard to really pin either one down as they both cover a spectrum of attributes.

One thing that all mental disorders have in common is that the diagnosis will state that Diagnosis is _______, so long as no other disorder better fits the observed criteria. For example, inattention and hyperactivity can both be symptoms observed within Depressive Disorder which is why it's important to look for a lifelong struggle with ADHD before diagnosing someone in adulthood with the disorder if they never exhibited symptoms as children.

dvdnvwls
01-24-17, 03:50 PM
The REAL difference is a matter of some debate and confusion and conflicting theories. Anyone who gives "the one true answer" is automatically wrong, because the truth is not yet known for sure.

I think some people with ADHD are more autistic-like than others. Is there sometimes a real link between autism and ADHD where they can be sort of the same thing, or is it just a coincidence? What about those ADHDers who don't seem to have anything at all in common with autism? I don't know.

In my opinion, if you read and hear the day-to-day thoughts and concerns of real ADHDers and real autistic people, you will get a better idea than by reading theories - no matter who those theories come from. (I.e. I'm sure a lot of doctors have misguided and wrong ideas on this topic, but I don't think the theorizing of autistic and ADHD people is necessarily that great either.)

dvdnvwls
01-24-17, 04:22 PM
marygates:

I think you are in a pretty tough situation right now. I get that you're looking for answers to some very important questions, ones that may seem pivotal to your understanding and to your plans. But I argue that the questions could be replaced with better ones. Here they are, just two of them...

- What is he really like to live with, today and since you've known him? (Not his potential but his reality.)

- Is the reality of who he is now, completely OK with you? If he never changed a bit from today onwards, would you feel joy and peace knowing that he's like this?





Yes, people change. But they don't change what you need them to change. The stuff you don't like about someone is almost always the part that stays - because if they could fix the parts others dislike, they would have done so already.

Johnny Slick
01-24-17, 06:17 PM
This is speculation on your part and besides that, has nothing to do with the question being asked. For one, the OP asked for the DIFFERENCE...
But I don't mean to give you a hard time. Once you reach the post limit, you can start a new thread on this specific topic if you like. Or someone will start it for you if you prefer? Either way, welcome to ADD_F.

ADHD is a disorder of attention... and often coupled with hyperactivity. More than anything else, that is what defines it. Also fidgeting, talking out of turn, and other symptoms can also be seen within the Autism spectrum.

Autism can have an inattentive element, but it is more of a social disorder with a lot of communication problems. Odd and repetitive behaviors are also common.

Someone with ADHD is probably more likely to be self-aware that there's a problem while someone with Autism won't necessarily understand their behavior as being odd or out of place. It's hard to really pin either one down as they both cover a spectrum of attributes.

One thing that all mental disorders have in common is that the diagnosis will state that Diagnosis is _______, so long as no other disorder better fits the observed criteria. For example, inattention and hyperactivity can both be symptoms observed within Depressive Disorder which is why it's important to look for a lifelong struggle with ADHD before diagnosing someone in adulthood with the disorder if they never exhibited symptoms as children.Yeah, this is essentially the way I've heard it. To take it a step further, somewhere between most and almost everyone with Asperger's Syndrome also have some form of ADHD (I have heard, in fact, that many therapists don't even bother to look for ADHD once a spectrum disorder has been diagnosed because they know it's just going to come along for the ride, so to speak) but lots and lots of people have ADHD but are not on the spectrum.

To take myself as an example, I *do* pick up on non-verbal cues in real time when I'm able to concentrate on doing so and a lot of the time even when I'm not. My own issue with that is that the recognition of those cues tends to bubble up from the unconscious and, well, my unconscious mind can be a bit of an a-hole sometimes (thanks not really to ADHD itself per se but to decades of dealing with ADHD symptoms on my own).

FWIW, this site lists some of the differences:

http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/aspergers#Differences5

Symptoms specific to AS include:

- all-absorbing interest in a specific, focused topic, such as sports statistics or animals
- being unable to practice nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, or body gestures
- being unable to understand another person’s feelings
- monotone pitch or lack of rhythm when speaking
- missing motor skill development milestones, such as catching a ball or bouncing a basketball

Symptoms specific to ADHD include:

- being easily distracted and forgetful
- being impatient
- learning difficulties
- a need to touch or play with everything, especially in a new environment
- reacting without restraint when upset or bothered, or without consideration for othersWhile I can sympathize with one or two things on that AS/not ADHD list (I love the nerdy side of sports!), like, pretty much everything on the other side applies to me. Easily distracted and forgetful? Check. Impatient. OH CRAP YES check (god, I actually noticed that I was feeling super-ADHDy over the weekend and needed Ritalin when I caught myself getting suuuuper frustrated over the fact that the stupid elevator in my apartment building was going down too slow). Learning difficulties? I wouldn't say "check" to that, exactly, but boy oh boy did I get terrible grades in school. The last two? Double check, yep.

psychopathetic
01-26-17, 09:57 AM
FWIW, this site lists some of the differences:

http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/aspergers#Differences5



Hey, thanks a lot for this link. This is a subject I'm highly interested in as I've suspected I have some high functioning aspergers going on with me for years (several years before I'd known I had adhd)...and I'm reading through this site and there's tons of great, easy to understand info here!

Sorry for being slightly off topic with this reply.

:grouphug:

20thcenturyfox
01-27-17, 02:26 PM
I've never seen information on a link between mental health disorders and the vagus nerve.
Do you have any links you could share?

I have boucoup scent intolerance, very little food intolerance.

I know nothing about food and scent intolerances. But clear connections are being drawn between the vagus nerve and conditions such as autism spectrum and ADHD, through the autonomic nervous system.

There is actually getting to be a lot now on how parasympathetic function (especially vagal tone measured by Heart Rate Variability) relates to attention, emotional regulation and social engagement. And because of the potential for non-drug interventions, training, and self-measurement, I've been surprised how little attention this receives here.

Stephen Porges' original evolutionary "polyvagal theory" from around 1995 seems to have become a leading neurobiological principle of developmental psychology. Beauchaine's 2006 survey "Polyvagal Theory and Developmental Psychopathology: Emotion Dysregulation and Conduct Problems from Pre-School to Adolescence" might persuade some of you how the dots connect. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1801075/ Of course there is much more recent research in all the directions this line of study has opened up. And plenty of pop-psych off-takes as well seem to be launched from this kernel of truth.

sarahsweets
01-28-17, 08:10 AM
When mentioning the vagus nerve or the word vagal- is this similar to someone who has a "vasal vagal" reaction to stuff like blood draws and needles? My daughter has this and has fainted many times getting blood taken.

20thcenturyfox
01-29-17, 02:55 PM
When mentioning the vagus nerve or the word vagal- is this similar to someone who has a "vasal vagal" reaction to stuff like blood draws and needles? My daughter has this and has fainted many times getting blood taken.

Where she faints at the sight of blood (or some other environmental trigger) due to sudden drop in blood pressure? Not my area of expertise, but yes, same nerve (longest in the body? runs from brain to groin IIRC) and same general parasympathetic side of the nervous system, which controls mostly unconscious functions like heart rate, vasoconstriction, breathing, etc. Someone else may know more about this. It seems like the ultimate mind-body connector.

Cyllya
02-02-17, 02:38 AM
The diagnostic manual used for psychiatric conditions is a pile of stupid, so it's hard to say much about the real difference between any of the conditions in it, even the ones that are obviously different. Like, they'll think you have a depressive disorder if you're sad because your ADHD symptoms are ruining your life.

Anyway, I consider ADHD and ASD to be secretly the same disorder (or at least two sides of the same coin). Here's a comparison I wrote up in the past. The symptoms and example traits listed are from the DSM5 diagnostic criteria.

Autism symptom: Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts
ADHD symptom: often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
ADHD symptom: often does not follow through on instructions
ADHD symptom: often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
ADHD symptom: often talks excessively
ADHD symptom: often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
ADHD symptom: often has difficulty awaiting turn
ADHD symptom: often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g. butts into conversations, games, or activities. may start using other people's things without asking or receiving permission; for adolescents and adults, may intrude into or take over what others are doing)

The stereotype about children with ADHD is that they're just "badly behaved."

Social problems in general aren't in the actual diagnostic criteria for ADHD, but it's well-understood that ADHD symptoms can (and usually do) cause people to have social problems.

Autism symptom: Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements
ADHD symptom: often fidgets with or taps hands or squirms in seat
ADHD symptom: is often "on the go" acting as if "driven by a motor"
(The use of the word "motor" in both symptoms is a coincidence, since it's using two different definitions of the word.)

Autism Symptom: Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment
ADHD doesn't officially entail sensory issues, but I've heard SPD is a pretty common co-morbid with ADHD. And of course, hyperactivity and stimming involve a lot of the same behaviors.

From anecdotes, I get the impression hypersensitivity is more common in autism and hyposensitivity is more common in ADHD.

Autism example trait: difficulties with transitions
ADHD symptom: often avoids or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort

Procrastination is an established ADHD problem, and procrastination is what you do when you are dealing with "autistic inertia."

Executive Dysfunction
Most problems in the "inattentive" portion of ADHD are related to executive functioning, and the executive function concepts of inhibition and emotional regulation are impaired by the "hyperactive-impulsive" portion of ADHD. ASD doesn't have anything about this explicitly in the diagnostic criteria, but it's apparently well documented that ASD folks often have trouble with executive functioning (details and citations available on Wikipedia).

These phrases sound like slightly hyperbolic description of some of my traits:
Insistence on sameness
extreme distress at small changes
difficulties with transitions
need to take same route or eat food every day

Those are all examples from the DSM5 (autism), but at least in my case, I can trace those problems back to something on the ADHD inattentive symptom list.

Hyperfocus and special interests
"Hyperfocus" is a term used by the ADHD community, and "special interest" is a term used by the autism community. Both terms seem pretty broadly defined, but they seem pretty closely related.

Also considering...

ASD and ADHD are more commonly diagnosed in children (and all the research and funding and resources are definitely geared toward helping parents whose kids have ASD or ADHD), and diagnosticians are trying to determine the symptoms based on behavior.

There are some traits that the two conditions don't share, but you also don't have those traits to get the associated diagnosis. (Impulsiveness, destructive behavior, and drug use are associated with ADHD, but you don't have to have those to be diagnosed with ADHD. Language delay and especially a long term inability to speak are associated with autism, but you don't have to have those to be diagnosed with an ASD.)

Some anecdotes (and later my own experience) made me start to suspect that ADHD meds might help autism symptoms, at least as much as they help ADHD inattentive symptoms. So I checked PubMed for research... and I found there apparently hasn't been much. What little research there has been suggests it probably could be helpful, but they mostly don't bother, apparently due to an assumption that stimulants will "make stereotypies worse," which is pretty much the stupidest thing I've ever heard.