View Full Version : Is my Asperger's NOT Asperger's just ADHD?

07-12-09, 11:05 AM
Ok I was diagnosed with Asperger's aged 17. DX'd with ADHD (probably combined type cos I have all 3 and psych didn't mention sub-types) just the other day. I am 19.

The thing is I don't actually have all the triats of AS. And I was reading this thread called "Conversing with others" in the relationships section (in General ADHD). It seems a lot of ADHDers have similar issues to those with AS in terms of not knowing how to keep a conversation going, body language, etc.

So now I am beginning to wonder if I even have AS.

Yes I have problems socialising but this seems to be an ADHD thing too, although it's not required for DX unlike AS and other ASDs.
In terms of empathy and understanding emotions...well I can tell if someone is angry etc...sometimes. I love hugging and cuddling and being affectionate with my boyfriend but I feel awkward with family. But I understand that hugging is an expression of love/affection etc. Am I right in thinking someone with AS would struggle to understand this (along with the possible dislike of being touched)? I feel awkward telling family members I love them mum always says that my brother always used to cuddle her and tell her he loved her when he was younger, but I was never the same. But I want to be like that. I want to be more loving - well show it, to be precise. And I know how. I just feel awkward about it or forget to do it :o or am half concentrating, half distracted! Like I often forget to say please or thank you, but it was put down to AS and not understanding, which is not the case.
A lot of the time I struggle in conversations because I zone out and lose interest. Or I am only half-listening to them so they have to repeat what they just said to me.
I have often said nasty things to people. But not because I didn't know it was wrong. But because of being impulsive.

I noticed that ADHDers also have "obsessions"/hyperfocus, again something people with AS have. But AS people also have specific routines and rituals in their lives but I do not. And my obsessions are hardly "obsessive". I love theme parks, rides/rollercoasters and animals at the moment. But I don't collect large amounts of data on them or read facts about them all the time. Yes I do read facts about them but usually via something else, if that makes sense. I wouldn't go and read all the books I can on animals at the library, but if I was bored and waiting for the bus in town for example, I may go in the library and read to pass the time. And when I was younger I didn't appear to have any obsessions at all.

And I do enjoy socialising. I often go out with friends, either in the day or for nights out.

Ooh just thought of another thing - language. I did sometimes take things literally when I was younger but not too badly. It was mainly when people made jokes about me, I'd take it too seriously and get upset. But I never had problems with similies or metaphors or sayings such as "it's raining cats and dogs" like people with ASDs can.

Also sensory issues - noise was the main one. Didn't like people laughing or being too loud when I was little, used to tell them to shut up! :D Again, sensory issues appear to...well, appear in ADHDers too! But it's never affected my life or stopped me from doing things.

Overall a lot of disorders tend to overlap, I could go through them all now and we'd be here all day! And yes it is common for someone to have both ADHD and Asperger's, or have one and display some traits of the other.

But seeing as some of the AS traits in me are caused by ADHD, and some aren't even there at it possible that I just have ADHD? With a little bit of AS thrown in? Or maybe even ADHD with PDD-NOS.

Any thoughts?

Thanks :)

07-12-09, 07:38 PM
Also just to add, in the report I got from the psychiatrist that DX'd my AS, she said I didn't have routines and was used to change because I went through a lot of it with my parents divorcing, moving house numerous times etc. But surely a person with true Asperger's would NOT be able to adapt to such changes? :confused:
I hate to accuse people of being wrong but it seems odd, plus the place I went to (CAMHS) was in general a bit of a mess! Took 9 months for a diagnosis cos staff were ill, they took ages to respond/contact us...and the way the report was written, in some places, didn't seem very professional at all. Just like they rushed it and stuff. Also one morning, me and my mum were almost at the centre, and then they phoned to tell us the lady I was seeing was ill! I don't think it was first thing in the morning either so they could easily have let us know before we drove all the way there!

Also it depends what criteria she used - if you look at the chart on this page it's quite interesting to note the differences between them.

I believe the Gillberg criteria is the closest match to the findings of Hans Asperger who obviously "discovered" it in the first place. And according to that criteria I wouldn't have it as routines must be present.

Also a lot of health professionals apparently disagree with the DSM-V as it is not that accurate in some places.


07-12-09, 09:26 PM
It's hard to say without a more complete picture of why you were diagnosed with Asperger's.

None of the ways in which you described your social life, however, are at all consistent with Asperger's. If you have a boyfriend but don't struggle with emotional or physical intimacy, if you enjoy going out with your friends, and if you're able to use language in creative non-literal ways in social're sort of missing key criteria for an autism spectrum disorder- even a mild one like Asperger's.

If you demonstrate hyperactivity and occasional disregard for the rules- that would be most consistent with ADHD-C and the Conduct Disorder spectrum that is VERY much linked with ADHD. A second opinion m ay be a good idea.

07-12-09, 09:55 PM
It's hard to say without a more complete picture of why you were diagnosed with Asperger's.

None of the ways in which you described your social life, however, are at all consistent with Asperger's. If you have a boyfriend but don't struggle with emotional or physical intimacy, if you enjoy going out with your friends, and if you're able to use language in creative non-literal ways in social're sort of missing key criteria for an autism spectrum disorder- even a mild one like Asperger's.

If you demonstrate hyperactivity and occasional disregard for the rules- that would be most consistent with ADHD-C and the Conduct Disorder spectrum that is VERY much linked with ADHD. A second opinion m ay be a good idea.

Thanks :)

Yes that's another thing, I can be very imaginitive and creative, whereas people on the autism spectrum tend to be more factual and logical, although there are some who have quite vivid imaginations.
I love reading fiction too!

The reason I seeked diagnosis was purely because of my socialising issues.

The other traits were very mild/not there and didn't cause impairment.
I mean yes I would be hyperfocusing on my interests which meant homework/chores were not completed...but again, that is something ADHDers display - procrastination, distractability, hyperfocus.
And also people on the spectrum can become very distressed when unable to pursue their obsessions. Whereas with me, it isn't like that. Yeah I'd be annoyed but I would cope with it.

So I don't really understand how the psychiatrist diagnosed me, when really the only proper, definite impairments were some social interaction skills.

The other things that were bought up were things that are displayed but not necessary for diagnosis, such as sensory issues, motor clumsiness...I think the only criteria that DOES include them also states routines, rituals, resistance to change etc HAVE to be present.
It's almost like she just used all 3 criteria and mixed them up to make her own!

It would be useful if she had mentioned on the report which criteria she used!

I will think about it for a while longer...maybe if I've made a decision by the time I go back to my ADHD psychiatrist (who DOES know what she is doing lol) I will mention it.
Although I don't want to sound like a pain or like I am getting too "obsessed" with my mental health...I always worry about annoying people :o even if it's her job!

07-13-09, 02:35 AM
Because this is a long post, I will state my conclusion first- whether ADHD or Aspergers, both are just labels of a group of symptoms. Psychological Diagnoses are not set in stone, it doesn't matter one bit what label you give it as long as you and your mental health provider(s) are looking at and treating *you* and your specific symptoms rather than treating the label.

Here is the thing about the DSM, and mental disorders in general... most of these disorders are a complex combination of symptoms versus a specific black and white underlying, provable thing as compared to medical disorders which can generally be traced back to something specific, a microorganism, a damaged organ, excessive growth of cells- in which case the symptoms point you in a direction of a provable (testable!), objective, problem. Most mental disorders are much more difficult to "prove" because even if there is an underlying biological cause, in general they are hard to test for due to the nature of the brain.

That is the big difference between medical disorders and psychological ones. While we are starting to get to the underlying causes of a number of psychological/neurological problems now with the advancement of brain imaging technology, we still often to not have any truly objective test to "prove" anything.

Think of it this way- with medical illnesses, you go to your doctor, tell them your symptoms, and based on those symptoms they come up with a hypothesis for what is causing those symptoms and then they run the appropriate test (throat culture for a sore throat, urinalysis for symptoms associated with a UTI, biopsies for cancer, etc) which can prove what is causing those symptoms. With psychological illnesses, you go to your mental health providor, tell them your symptoms, based on those symptoms they come up with a hypothesis... but there is no objective test to prove or disprove an underlying cause. Even with brain scans, there is such natural variability in the brain and what is "typical" that a person exhibiting symptoms of a disorder might have scans looking far more normal than someone who may have no symptoms of a disorder at all.

Almost nothing in psychology is straight forward. The DSM is nothing more than a way to groups symptoms in order to label symptoms that often go together and appear to be the same disorder. It is a work in progress. There will always, until we develop a clearer science to test for underlying causes, be a lot of room for subjective judgement, wiggle room, and the need to less than clearly defined disorders (take PDD-NOS and other "NOS" diagnoses- they basically are catch alls- a diagnosticians way of saying "It looks like a duck, it swims like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, but it has no feathers so even though I know it's a duck, I can't right now officially call it a duck")

Psychological disorders, for the most part, are labels, ways of grouping into categories. But since we're still working on the science of proving the underlying causes, the labels aren't set in stone.

Aspergers is just Autism by another name... they are off by one criteria in the DSM (Aspergers doesn't show the communication deficit clearly at a young age)... it is now thought that autism is a spectrum disorder- it is. It is a multiple dimension spectrum, not a single continuum... meaning one person with autism may not be very severley impaired in social aspects but may have debilitating stereotypical behaviors, one may have only moderate stereotypical behaviors but be completely unable to speak.

And there are many people who are starting to believe that ADHD is related to Autism. I am one of those people- there is a lot of overlap. There is no black and white... perhaps attention and hyperactivity problems are inherent in autism and are overshaddowed by the other deficits. Perhaps ADHD is Aspergers 'without the feathers' so to speak.

Right now all we have are labels, those labels do not define us and are not the end all be all of what is going on in our brains. They are a jumping off point, to describe what we are experiencing and give us a place to start to work on an appropriate treatment, develop beneficial coping strategies, etc.

I am ADD, Inattentive. I work with children with autism. My coworkers often comment that I am "on the spectrum" and really, I am! My symptoms, from a non DSM point of view, look very much like mild asd. But, by DSM criteria I have ADD. The label doesn't so much matter... Diagnostically I am ADD, but "real world" presentation wise I am vaguely autistic. The label doesn't so much matter.


07-15-09, 03:15 PM
you dont have to meet every criteria on the spectrum.

I have an AS diagnosis (since 5!).... and anybody else with AS i meet, seems like a total geek compared to me.

07-15-09, 03:25 PM
I agree with KDL, it doesn't sound like you have Aspergers. But I do think that ADHD can definitely look like Aspergers sometimes. The hyperfocusing trait might look like an AS obsession. I think being Inattentive can also look like Aspergers because it looks like we're not interested in other people when in actuality we're just spacing out. Plus, when you're too spacey to pay attention to social cues that might make you look socially awkward so that probably throws people off sometimes.

I do not have Aspergers but apparently I resemble an Aspie according to some people around me. Some of my co-workers actually thought that I had Aspergers even though I don't. My counselor said, "You have some traits that can be misconstrued as Aspergers but you don't have Aspergers."

07-15-09, 05:23 PM
If you don't like the diagnosis, then get a second opinion.

08-26-13, 06:18 PM
From an ADD female living in an Asperger house with 2 AS guys (Father and son).

When I finally found out that my boyfriend (of several years) son was previously diagnosed by his mother (without informing us), I explained AS to him just as I did with ADD (this is one of the reasons why AS is not called HFA on the Autism Spectrum).
Imagine you're in a bulk candy store, and every container cost the same per pound. You may want a lot of the cherry candies and none of the licorice. you may want a myriad of flavored candies. You don't have to have all of the traits of AS to still be AS. The boy (for instance) loves to cuddle. But he fit the other traits quite high. He's now 15 and when he tries to judge the reality that he's AS, he does not see his own reflection well enough to see that he's absolutely AS. Since then, we also found a therapist who diagnosed his father. Boy did the pieces all come together then.

What I can tell you from my experience is that, what seems similar is quite different once you know both.
The DSM IV states that you can't diagnose someone with both, but this was done by a local Psychiatrist with the son. Clearly I have more invested (than the psychiatrist) in getting these guys the right diagnosis since I have nearly lost my mind trying to figure them out for the past 8 years!
While it is hard for me to keep my attention, I am more like a light sleeper. Anything can distract me.
With them: They are more ODC with their distractions... like a snapping turtle. They are both so much in their head about what is keeping their attention. This can seem more like a narcissist.
I however am more prioritized even when distracted. Everything to them is the priority, no matter what the consequence or pending time-line.
They both started reading at very young ages, I struggled. To this day the topic has to be extraordinary for me to keep enough of my focus to read the topic.
Writing, I was great at math and horrible in english. Mind you I didn't exactly have a decent school system to hold my attention.

This is from a website that I've found on
"Clinically the children with ADD appear to have somewhat different patterns on intellectual and academic testing. While the Aspergerís group often show excellent verbal and reading capacities (left hemisphere strengths), they tend to have symptoms of non-verbal learning disabilities (right hemisphere problems). The ADD children, on the other hand, may perform well on non-verbal performance tasks but demonstrate increased incidence of preschool speech disorders (Love & Thompson) and reading difficulties in the early school years."

Every child will have multiple traits on the diagnostic scale, but it's important to remember that it has to be impairing their lives.
I think it's going to be hard for you since you're most likely going to have a limited view of your past. Much can be moderated with proper parenting (even without a diagnosis) and learned through maturation. I remember being horribly blunt and hurting people's feelings. The guys have no clue that they hurt another's feelings. If someone has a reaction to something they did, such as my getting frustrated with their inability to have anything but apathy for keeping the house in a reasonable shape (yes, I know they are guys but trust me, I've actually have taken videos of how bad things get when I've gone away).

The father for instance had a large family who were very social. His mother was a performer by trade. He was thrust into many situations that de-sensitized his leanings towards social issues of that nature. However, he does not read social queues to the point to which I don't like going to social events with him. (And both of them lack the ability to recognize when others are bored of their talking on and on about what their interest are). He's like a child when it's show and tell day at school. He goes to be the center of attention. Where others might avoid these social situations, this is his intense interest. This can also be borne out of the fact that he's the last child of seven and the next oldest was 7 years older.

I believe that the two can not co-exist. But then, I hold a unique view that I'm sure should be studied by more people in the diagnosing field.

08-26-13, 11:17 PM
I disagree with your last sentence. There are many neurological disorders and mental illnesses that overlap in symptoms, but it in my view that one person can be impaired severe enough in two or more to warrant a diagnoses.

Example: I have high functioning autism (diagnosed AS but I feel closer to the classic model), ADHD-PI, possibly bipolar and OCD.
I have serious impairments from all of them.

The human brain might be divided up into areas but they all communicate with each other and can even taken up the functions of one area should it fail. Nothing is ever just black and white so making a definitive statement like that is really putting up a barrier.
I used to be the same way. I used to not know when I said something offensive, often by being so sure of my own opinions.

Now there is an argument going around in cognitive psychologist circles about how memories are stored; are they recorded or constructed? Basically it's the bigger picture verse attention to details. I find this argument comes up in a lot of areas. Now one person might be better at remembering details and the other person might be stronger at the bigger picture, the brief summary.
I think the brain uses both for memories and we need to be open to both ways. You need the logic of a linear thinker but it's also helpful to consider the conceptual thinking way of a lateral thinker.
Understand? Just try to keep a more open mind.

Look, I can tear apart the differences of AS and ADHD and also show the similarities. I can give examples of people I've known with AS/ADHD and just AS.

By the way, I relate to both autistic male and female traits.

And despite the DSM IV saying you can only diagnose one disorder in the one person, many doctor's would still give two or three more diagnoses's.

In conclusion, you can meet both criteria for an AS (pre-DSM 5) and ADHD diagnoses.

08-26-13, 11:27 PM
Although it's politically correct to pretend the autism spectrum is an evenly-distributed rainbow from one end to the other, my own experience has been that when it comes to aspies, there are basically two groups: those who also have ADD, and those who don't.

Despite having two conditions rather than one, my view is that we (AS+ADD) got the better deal. I like to think of AD(H)D as being like our circuit breaker and distraction that allows us to blindly stumble into situations where no "regular" aspie would ever go voluntarily. We might waste incredible amounts of time and money defending ourselves from anxiety, but given adequate financial resources, at least we *can* do what we think needs to be done, then move onward with life instead of being crushed by it at every turn. We're the semi-eternal mildly-delusional optimists who have to be utterly and completely broken and beaten into submission before *ever* conceding defeat to ourselves, let alone others.

Here are some personal examples I've come up with over the years:

* Pure aspie: enormous anxiety before travel. Days or weeks of intense research, producing a rigid plan that gets followed to the minute.

* aspie + add: slight anxiety before travel. Days or weeks of intense research that culminates in a plan similar to the one a pure aspie would come up with, except we then turn around and ditch the plan within minutes of arrival. At that point, we've studied the city's subway system enough to understand it better than half the city's own residents do. Or at least, we think we do. As long as we aren't up against deadlines or externally-imposed schedules, we can go with it and turn a mistake into an afternoon adventure. HOWEVER... if we actually *have* to be somewhere in 10 minutes, we'll show up 25 minutes to an hour late, and probably have a meltdown on the train if some element of our plan falls apart.

* pure aspie: Breakfast at McDonald's on Mondays & Wednesdays, 8am, without fail. The pure aspie, if his plans are to be there at 8am, will go through extreme anxiety if something delays him until 8:05, even if the 8am time was somewhat pulled out of a hat, and whatever comes afterward is somewhat flexible.

* aspie + ADD: breakfast at McDonald's on Mondays & Wednesdays, unless we get into a random mood for Burger King or Denny's instead. But God help anyone in the car with us who tries to talk us out of McDonald's, and we'll probably have a meltdown if we're forced to change our plans due to some external forces (like the McDonalds being closed, out of whatever it is that we wanted to eat, etc). We're there at 8am, which means we actually leave the house at 8:17, and get there by 8:30 if we're lucky.

* pure aspie: won't go to a party, because he might not have a good time. Or there might not be a place to park. Or... just... *because*.

* aspie + add: goes to the party, then spends the whole time playing with his phone. If he meets somebody whose interests overlap, they'll become instant best friends for the next few days, then eventually get bored and drift apart. If some self-righteous extrovert decides to make him put down his phone and "be social", he'll have a meltdown and go home enraged.

In the "party" example, the big difference is that the "pure" aspie is defined by anxiety. The AS+ADD individual will brainstorm things that can go wrong, then try to engineer around them (driving himself, so he can leave the moment he decides he's not having fun, even though he'll probably end up being the last person to leave).

* pure aspie: constant anxiety, and feeling of being crushed & overwhelmed. Strong OCD tendencies. Biggest fear: fear itself.

* aspie + add: constant anxiety, compensated for by endless research, information-gathering, analysis, and hoarding tendencies. Biggest fear: being unprepared to handle any conceivable scenario, multiplied if there's no way to avoid the uncertainty of having to depend upon others.

* pure aspie: can't ignore external stimuli, easily pushed to the breaking point.

* Aspie + add: naturally oblivious to much of what's going on around us, which gets us into trouble a lot, but also gives us enough breathing room to mentally regroup and counterattack. And when all else fails, we just ignore *everything* and do something completely unnecessary and unrelated. When Rome is burning, we play the violin. While our ship is sinking, we stop to contemplate whether the deck chairs would look better if they were painted blue.