View Full Version : Reasons People Confuse ADHD with Aspergers

02-04-10, 05:45 AM
I hear a lot of people who think they may have two disorders (high functioning Autism/Aspergers/PDD-NOS or ADHD) The point has been raised many times that by looking at the list of symptoms that there is some overlap but also other symptoms that are contradictory.

One interesting paradox is the link from ADHD to depression & Autism to OCD. Here are some that overlap between ADHD & Autism

* Eye contact
* Inattentiveness (described differently for Autism disorders)
* Social empathy (described differently for both disorders but this symptom is documented for both)
* eye hand coordination issues at young age (well documented in addition to the link between ambidextrous & ADHD)

I think it's possible to have a very severe inattentive type ADHD, which when medicated with stimulants add a few more characteristics from Autism:

Specifically more OCD traits within ADHD such as:
* Ritualistic or having a hard time moving on (due to hyperfocus)
* Skin picking, ticks, etc
* Preoccupation with objects - I think about this one in specific, I'm not sure why it's in the guidelines as most boys have some degree of this, ADHD boys even more so

Especially in younger ADHD patients who tend to have less control over their hyperfocus abilities and tend to zone out much of the time even (or especially when) medicated.

Add to this the wide variety of people diagnosing children from psychologists & psychiatrists to general practitioners. Even teachers have their hand in diagnosis based on the information they fill out for the school if your child is screened. Also qualifying children for special ed services may be easier in a lot of states for Autism spectrum disorders than lets say ADHD so there could be an unconscious bias towards trying to fit these space cadet-like ADHD kids into one of the many Autism buckets (Autism, Aspergers or PDD-NOS).

Lets face it, there's a lot more empathy from society for Autism than ADHD. What has everyone else's experience been in this area? Any ADHDers been misdiagnosed with Autism/etc or stereotyped as such due to being perceived as detached?

02-07-10, 01:36 PM
I suppose this almost happened to me, even though I haven't been diagnosed. As a kid I was pretty angry and argued with my parents and family a lot. But my mum was convinced for years I had Aspergers, but I grew out of most of the anger issues and have pretty much all the Innatentive ADD symptoms. Unfortunately where i'm from, ADHD means hyperactive, which I don't really fit into. I was a detached kid, spent all my time upstairs playing video games - I think that might be basically because they kept my attention.

02-08-10, 10:52 PM
As a kid I was pretty angry and argued with my parents and family a lot.
That sounds more like ODD, oppositional defiant disorder, to me then aspergers. ODD and ADHD very commonly occur together. It's not uncommon for people to receive both ODD and ADHD diagnosis's.

My son is diagnosed ADHD and I have aspergers. I can see a definite difference in us.

The difference in terms of a joke. I like to sit and count the patterns on the wall paper, While my son likes to bounce off of the walls. Together we make a pretty good team and give that wall hell.

But on the serious side. My son is seven years old. I can tell from his interactions with others, that he can read peoples non-verbal body language, he understands social interactions, he 'gets' other people. They make sense to him. If he is in his super hyper-active mode, he may be oblivious to it, but once he focus's he gets it. While on the other hand, I am 40 years old and I still don't understand people to this day. Social talk, interactions, and people in general confuse the heck out of me. I just don't understand it and I've analyzed it for years. So I think it shares allot of symptoms, but something at the core is different.

02-09-10, 06:16 AM
I understand what you mean. The whole "Obsession" thing people see with asbergers tends to just be something that is long term whereas I bounce from one thing to the next. I'm not hyperactive and can read people but I think the reason I was more socially withdrawn as a kid was because I felt anxious about my parents divorce and never really fit in, I preferred just playing computer games because they held my attention. You may be on to something with that ODD thing though, because as a kid I was hostile to my parents and stubborn - always thinking I was right and wanting to be the one calling the shots per se. I never ended up with a diagnosis even after going to see shrinks for years, I think one because it was the 90's so ADHD was hyperactive or nothing (plus its the UK) and two because I never spoke to any of them, I think I was afraid they'd send me away or something.

I wonder if the Hyperactivity part of ADHD can manifest itself as anger.

And also truthfully, I think I have too strong a personality and am way to disorganised to have aspergers or autism. (Also, I hope people don't find that offensive)

02-09-10, 06:14 PM
I wonder if the Hyperactivity part of ADHD can manifest itself as anger.

If my own experience is anything to draw from, the answer to that question is a resounding YES.