View Full Version : How do Aspergers and ADHD fit together?

12-01-06, 06:47 PM
If a person has both aspergers and ad/hd, personality type more aspergers, how might the adhd manifest? Do aspies have hyperfocus like ADD'ers? Is the stim hunger the same for aspie or ADD?

12-01-06, 07:25 PM
It's simple. If you have adhd and AS, you have symptoms of both.

Yes, autistics can hyperfocus. for hours, even days, maybe longer.

AS and adhd are completely different disorders. But, because autism spectrum disorderscan affect the same areas of the brain responsible for attention as ADHD does, it is not uncommon for someone in the autism spectrum to have adhd as well.

My instinct tells me that someone with undiagnosed ADHD and AS, might easily be diagnosed incorrectly as bipolar due to the explosive meltdowns that some aspies experience when overloaded. I've read that many aspies are misdiagnosed as schizoaffective because they are not good at nonverbal communications.

I think that if a doctor sees someone who has social problems, anxiety, depression, sensory issues, ocd-like behaviors, attention issues and explosive outbursts, it is easy for them to make the leap toward bipolar disorder, or even call it a bunch of separate disorders before making the call on asperger's syndrome. This is especially true for people who are very high fucntioning and maybe have a career, a family, and is more or less able to socialize sucessfully. It's a tough call for doctors to make I think.

Everybody engages in self stimulating behaviors to some degree or another. When you have a neurologicial disorder that leaves you easily overloaded, your nominal level of stress and anxiety are very high comparend to "normal" people. If you are highly stressed you will instinctively engage in physical actions that help relieve stress. It's going to happen. You brain is hard wired to do it.

Some people don't have a lot of self stimulating behaviors, and some do. It all depends on the person.

12-02-06, 05:20 AM
On another forum I go to, a lot of the Aspie kids are originally given a diagnosis of ADHD when younger, then at the age of about 7 they get the AS diagnosis. My son's ASD diagnosis is disputed, as a lot of the social problems etc he has are being put down to his ADHD. I fully believe he has both, but a couple of the doctors in the multi-disciplanary team he sees said no, so they couldn't give him that diagnosis. (He's been previously diagnosed ASD by a specialist aspergers clinic & a private pediatrician who said yes). My other son with pure ADHD seems to have some of the same issues, just not to the same degree.

Aspies tend to have a special interest that they know absolutely everything about. This may be an extension of the hyperfocus on a particular subject that interests them?

As far as stims go, my ASD/ADHD boy's are far more intense. he bites himself on the finger when he's excited or upset to the point where it has a huge callous on it. He's a lot more sensitive to noises etc and does a lot more sensory seeking things than his brother.

I tend to think the two disorders are closely related. I don't know if that's of any help.

12-02-06, 05:54 AM
Would ASD be likely to have more emotional detachment than ADHD? Not as in having no attachments, but being more self-reliant and less sentimental, less emotionally swayed by all but the strongest friendships?

Would it be accurate to say that ADHD stim is more often sought out of boredom, and ASD out of stress or anxiety? Or that ASD stim involves more sensory, ADD stim more thought-based? Just generally speaking, I know it would vary from person to person.

If those questions don't make sense, let me know--I'm having a hard time getting a handle on this.

What do you think is the single most important thing about a person with Asperger's to understand about their own thinking pattern?

Confuzzled, it's a lot of help, thanks.

12-02-06, 12:03 PM
About emotional detatchment. From what I've seen here on the forums and in person, aspies have emotion, they just don't do well with the nonverbal communications so they have to rely on rules, logic, and deduction of facts in order to function socially.

If you have ever watched star trek... in a lot of ways commander Data is the stereotype of the "perfect" aspie. Very analytical, logical, practical, literal, honest, dependable, and a one-track-mind. Those are strong aspie traits, but commander Data has NO emotion... he never gets depressed and never explodes in a rage when overloaded....many aspies do these things.. and that requires a lot of emotion. In reality it is a lot more complex than that, and some people are just a tiny bit autistic, and some aspies are very autistic...thus the degree of disconnect varies a lot from one individual to the next. Yes, there is a tendency to perceive aspies as lacking emotions because they are so matter-of-fact about everything, but from what I've seen from an aspie friend, it is just not so. The problem lies in communications.

About self stimulating behaviors
From my experience self stimulating bahvior is all about having a "noisy" central nervous system. Sensory input, (or a lack of it) can cause this "noise". The result is that you have a lot to process, and in some situations you have more than you can process (an overload). The stress of coping with this noisy central nervous system leads to anxiety, and in some people an overload situation leading to the loss of the abiity to correctly process input can lead to a spectacular (and unpleasant) meltdown.

The self stimulating behavior drowns out the noise with a clear, strong, sensory signal and reduces your sensory load to a hopefully managable level.... that is the theory...

The bottom line is, if you are overloaded and having problems processing, you have only a few choices regarding what to do about it. You can remove yourself from the overload situation, you can try to reduce your stress level, or you can do some combination of the two.

In a nutshell behaviors like rocking, flapping, etc are big stress relievers for some people. It's instinctive and an important coping mechanism, a natural response to unrelenting stress, believe it or not.

The single most important thing to know?
The single most important thing to know about ones condition is to stay self aware at all times. Learn to understand yourself and be aware of your current status so that you don't get caught off guard and run into serious trouble. Normal people do this automatically. Some people have a bit of a disconnect and need to make a cognitive effort. Educate yourself and stay self-aware and you will do okay most of the time.


12-09-06, 05:26 AM
Well, after lots and lots of web research and a thorough examination of the DSM-IV, it appears I have a friend who would easily meet the criteria for both aspies and ADD, and fits about 70% of the stereotype perfectly for each. Doesn't match the other 30% at all. (He'll be looking for a doctor's confirmation on our theory soon.)

His innate craving for orderliness and systematic approach appears to offset some really severe ADD characteristics in a way that keeps him functioning more than otherwise would be possible. Your description of 'very analytical, logical, practical, literal, honest, dependable, and a one-track-mind' is perfect, except that his mind can also do the ADD lateral and creative thinking in a very sort of unique way. Kind of the best of both worlds.... Kick-in-the-side-of-the-head type thinking, but the two ways of thinking don't always fully mesh into a workable plan. The disconnect is there but he still manages friendship around it thanks to his own mostly unconscious version of cognitive compensation. Odd how our own nature is so familiar that it's hard to see even profound impairments sometimes. So here's to a new beginning and new understanding, hopefully with some stim meds to lighten the ADD load.

Education has been harder for aspergers than for ADD.

And this is getting to be a habit... .thanks again, speedo.

12-09-06, 10:55 AM
If that is the case, my guess is he has a really high IQ. Your friend might just be a savant.

Let us know how it works out. My guess is that they will dx him with everything but AS first, then work their way into it over time.


12-10-06, 06:43 AM
If that is the case, my guess is he has a really high IQ. Your friend might just be a savant.

Let us know how it works out. My guess is that they will dx him with everything but AS first, then work their way into it over time.

ME :DYeah, he's extremely high IQ, and excellent at problem-solving, his friends describe him as 'so smart it's scary' and they're well above average thinkers. It's part of how he's managed to work around the challenges as well as he has--and also why I believe that 'just getting by' indicates a serious impairment for a man with such remarkable abilities and such dogged persistence.

Confirmation of ADD is the first goal because there's actually medical treatment for that, and a good prospect of the meds bringing a lot of relief. Plus there's probably a local doctor that can make the diagnosis despite his high IQ and systematic approach. The diagnosis of Aspergers or look-alike will have to wait for the neuropsych visit next year, and in the meantime he's educating himself quickly on the cognitive aspects.

12-10-06, 10:29 AM
One thing that you need to consider is that sometimes really smart people are just different. They act a little ADDish but are not, a little asperger-ish, but are not. Mostly it is because if you are very smart, you are going to behave differently simply because you think, feel, and perceive things differently from most folks.

If he has some impairments going on it is a fair bet that something is amis, but don't rule out him just being very smart and merely being a tad different.

So he is convined that he has some imairment? If that is the case he should act on it if he feels there is a problem to resolve.

Me :D

12-11-06, 01:59 AM
Yeah, he's convinced. ADD and Aspergers identify and explain some specific challenges in a way that nothing else has up to now. He's been thorough enough in his research that I'm thinking a doctor will probably agree. We'll see.

12-18-06, 10:53 PM
I have only met 3 Asperger people (that i know of, for sure; many are undiagnosed).

They seem to present as though they have something like a PDD (pervasive development disorder; indeed Asperger's is one); but it can *look a lot like NLVD* (Non-Verbal Learning Disorder), too.

In NLVD, the person cannot understand non-verbal social rules and customs. They are very socially awkward; cannot understand metaphor in joke-telling; etc. Sadly, they tend to have a very hard time in school and with relating to their peers; get bullied, etc. b/c they "just can't get it".

Here is an NVLD link:

The article even mentions the similarity in appearance with Asperger's.

One substance-abusing ADHD/Asperger young man in my hometown was charged with animal abuse. He broke a pet kitten's legs, b/c he was treating it like a toy, and was licking and biting it (trying to groom it?) and mauling it.

He could not understand the concept that the cat had a nervous system, felt pain, needed to be fed, and was not a plaything. The more it tried to escape and withdraw, the more he mauled it. Sad but true.

(There were also substance abuse problems at hand, too; and possibly some Anti-Social behavioural components (his 'antisocial personality disorder' would explain the cruelty to an animal part), so this was not simply pure ADHD or pure Asperger's at work, but a combination of all Four Risk Factors -- substance abuse, antisocial personality, ADHD and Asperger's. Generally, the more diagnoses a person has, the more compromised they are. The young man is on a Disability Pension now, and the kitten was adopted out after a big SPCA media blitz.)

Matt S.
01-09-07, 12:52 PM
Another common denominator is the aspect of the sensory hypersensitivities I was referred to a doctor who specializes in more of the neurological aspects of disorders and he told me that I was just hyperactive and that I had an 'environmental dependency syndrome' that consisted of utilization and imitation behaviors as well as dependency on the environment for cues on behavior. My shrink was convinced that I had Asperger's but I have the worst traits of the DSM Personality Disorders and I am getting a bit "pseudo-Asperger" in order to find a new way to adapt. My lack of social life has recently shifted back to the other extreme and it was a period of time that correlated with every other example of extremes that I tend to adapt to. Kind of like a self regulated OCD learning style in order to figure out a way to learn things that I was unable to do as a result of being diagnosed as an alternative to any teaching of the concept of behavior and emotional neglect as a child. I also like to state that the history of sensitivities to sounds tags and the rest of the 'spectrum' of the DSM'ed criteria for sensory integration disorder was clearly identified in children suffering from the "hyperactive child syndrome" by a doctor in the 60's and was referred to then as Tactile Defensiveness which was an alleged cause of hyperactivity at the time.

01-12-07, 10:26 AM
It's been my experience in dealing with my 6 yr old that ADHD/Asperger's go hand in hand with the exception of verbal. ADHD'ers do better with their verbal/comprehension.

01-14-07, 10:11 PM
One substance-abusing ADHD/Asperger young man in my hometown was charged with animal abuse. He broke a pet kitten's legs, b/c he was treating it like a toy, and was licking and biting it (trying to groom it?) and mauling it.

He could not understand the concept that the cat had a nervous system, felt pain, needed to be fed, and was not a plaything. The more it tried to escape and withdraw, the more he mauled it. Sad but true.

Extremely unrelated to aspegers also. Most people with aspergers have strong empathy with animals. Someone that would harm an animal like that
is more likely having psychopathy personality disorder.

ADHD is highly comorbit with aspergers. Maybe a 50% correlation. The primary feature of aspergers is social cognitive deficiency that leads to
delayed social skills development. There are other features of aspegers but they tend to not be the primary problems faced by aspies.

01-29-07, 09:42 AM
I know for me, I have the A in adhd that are a part of the Asperger's disorder. In Asperger's disorder we can be hypo- or hyper- focused. I think I get both at differnt times of the day. I try to tell mom that I have attention problems but she thinks I want to have and adhd dx and tells me that you dont' have adhd, but she even notices my attention problems every day and still denys that I have a problem. She thinks I'm forcing myself to have this problem but the attention probs I'm told are also related to my meds. Hope this helps. Good Luck.


01-30-07, 08:17 AM
When i asked my doctor if he thaght i had it because of all the symptoms i have that go withit, he said he wasnt sure becasue i was able to make eyecontact with him, is this wright? is the no eye contact thing a must not be able to do always? ( He did however support me when i suggested going to a testing centre for here, i havnt cause as typing this i only just remembered that....)

01-30-07, 07:55 PM
Many people with AS do not make eye contact. However some aspies do make eye contact, so it is a good idea to follow up with some testing.

Me :D

01-30-07, 11:06 PM
Yea, make sure to get the testing...

02-02-07, 09:22 AM
Thank's, i will. by the way, can i ask what Dx and Rx mean?

02-02-07, 09:44 AM
Dx is Diagnosis

Rx is prescription

02-03-07, 04:44 AM
copy that soldier, thanks, any others i should know?

02-03-07, 06:30 AM
Just an observation re: combined ADHD and Asperger's--the love of logic, structure, and orderliness that comes with asperger's seems to have the potential to moderate the inconsistency and disorganization that ADHD tends to bring by itself. It may take a tremendous amount of mental energy, but the Aspie with ADHD may not fit the ADHD profile as well as the average ADHD person.

Stargazer, since you're in Australia, check for Tony Atwood on the web. He's the author of an amazingly comprehensive book about asperger's syndrome, and it's worth checking to see if you're anywhere close to his practice.

Matt S.
02-03-07, 12:36 PM
I guess I can have an aspie like understanding but that is more due to ptsd and emotional neglect, it's not necessarily a lack of understanding but a lack of faith, I was recently screened for asperger's due to my logic etc. sensory issues which get worse depending on events and I was in my own little world depending on my environment and have hyperactivity etc. I had an MRI done and have frontal lobe brain damage because my mother was emotionally neglecting and my mental health almost deteriorated due to my environment (psychotic neighbor harassing me) I was in a state of mind that was almost psychotic but once I left the environment and hyperfocused on something worthwhile such as college then it disappeared.