View Full Version : ADHD and Autism Spectrum - a Connection?


Lunacie
06-18-10, 10:32 PM
It seems I'm not the only one who's been wondering if ADHD and Autism aren't different forms of the same kind of genetic disorder.

Here is an article (http://www.childrentoday.com/articles/special-needs/adhd-and-autism-641/) about a mother of both kinds of children who also wondered if the similarities weren't more telling than the differences. It turns out there is even research into the question that seems to validate the opinion that we're looking at a fairly broad spectrum here.

amiegrace
06-21-10, 02:43 PM
My whole family has ADD, my father is very Asperger-y and has pretty severe ADHD, and my little brother (now 31) has just had a son who has been diagnosed with autism and seizures. Both of my brothers have been having seizures for the last several years, and several family members have been diagnosed with bipolar and major depression. I believe all of these ailments are somewhere along a common path.

sarek
06-21-10, 03:05 PM
I am a very strong believer in the wide spectrum idea. Not simply AD/HD and as spectrum disorder but also including mood disorders and possibly tourettes.
I even suspect that seemingly unrelated disorders like schizophrenia also fit somewhere in the same far reaching family.

Dizfriz
06-21-10, 05:14 PM
I suspect that there is some connection between ADHD and Autism.

Right now we do not have the information to say a lot about it but a number of clinicians and researchers have expressed thoughts about this.

There seems to be a one way comorbidity between ADHD and higher functioning Autism such as Asperger's and PDD in that many of in this category will also be diagnosed as ADHD but those who are ADHD have a fairly low risk of being diagnosed as in the Autistic spectrum.

Somewhere down the line I suspect we will find common connections between ADD and Bipolar as well as the autistic spectrum.

For now, we just have to wait and see.

Dizfriz

Lunacie
06-21-10, 05:27 PM
I am a very strong believer in the wide spectrum idea. Not simply AD/HD and as spectrum disorder but also including mood disorders and possibly tourettes.
I even suspect that seemingly unrelated disorders like schizophrenia also fit somewhere in the same far reaching family.

Yes, me too. That's what I responded in the thread that prompted me to do a Google for a link between ADHD and Autism. I also think that Bipolar and Tourettes and possibly other mood/behavior disorders may all be linked in some way.

And oddly, Parkinson's Disease. My grandchildren's father has Parkinson's and I strongly suspect he has ADHD (but he will never get tested for it), and when I was reading about Parkinson's I felt there was a connection. Been long enough ago that I don't remember what led me to think that besides the fact that it's another neurological issue.

Amtram
06-21-10, 05:52 PM
What's shown some promise is DNA research that has found a string of proteins (12, I think) that are found, so far, consistently in people with ADD, ASD, OCD, and dyslexia. I don't remember if that applied to other brain function disorders, but it was very exciting to me that they're making progress on pinning down a genetic link to all of this.

amiegrace
06-21-10, 07:51 PM
Oh, yes, I believe learning disorders and dyslexia are also along in there. My mother has dyscalculia (math disability) and my older brother, severe dyslexia.

peripatetic
06-22-10, 03:11 AM
i really have no idea, but i'm interested in the answers when they're available.

given that i jointly started a thread about some proclivities i have that include such lovelies as repeatedly and largely involuntarily 'high fiving myself' um, on the side of my head, i would love to know if there *is* a connection, *to what* specifically and can it be mitigated/eradicated somehow.

i've never even come close to meeting criteria for anything other than adhd-combined type (well, i am dyslexic, but more the mild-moderate range). this makes me wonder...but i'm not well-versed enough to say that criteria for any condition are inadequate or that being sub-threshold in a couple of things amounts to having some actual thing. i just don't know:confused: moreover, although none of my psychiatrists has ever seen me exhibit the behavior, all 3 knew about it and it's documented in my medical records. it's been explained as just a more rare thing associated with a degree of severity of a type of adhd. somehow it seems like there's more to it, though...

i am ever hopeful that information and understanding progresses and one day, perhaps, there will be a new paradigm. what seems to make the most sense to me (admittedly, as i said, i have nothing to back this but my inclinations...which provide nothing substantive, really) would be something that offers a view of maladaptive behaviors (to include pervasive disorders, mood disorders, learning differences, etc) as more of an interconnected web with facets presenting in different individuals at different times and not such a cut-and-dry structure.

my suspicion is that everything is somehow connected. that's entirely based upon my experience, though, since i have yet to encounter someone on the forums or in person whose concerns simply fit one single model and never venture into side concerns that lie somewhere outside the primary one. again, just a hunch without any substantive backing.

as i said i do think it's an interesting question and i hope there are advances made sooner than later.

cheers:)

Amtram
06-22-10, 08:51 AM
I'm getting a little more comfortable with the idea that environmental factors may initiate or contribute to the severity of a genetic predisposition to any of these conditions, but I still believe that the genetics must already be in place. I've seen too many familial connections where children with ASD or ADD are "the first ones in our family to ever have this!" but whose family history includes depression, OCD, dyslexia, or a combination. I've met a ton of people with ADD and/or ASD kids who meet this criterion, and none who don't. Anecdotal, but there are enough studies showing the same (and now the genetics studies are reiterating that) that I'm thinking my observations may have some basis in fact.

I'm still highly skeptical of the idea that an environmental factor alone would "cause" any of these conditions, but when I think of it like cancer, it seems possible that they may make the pre-existing condition more severe than it would have been otherwise.

Many specific cancers run in families, but in certain cases, the majority of the individuals in the family will share a specific environmental risk factor prior to their diagnosis. For example, smoking and lung cancer. The genetic risk factor could possibly make the difference in whether a smoker develops lung cancer or not, and might explain why certain non-smokers develop it anyway. The genetic proclivity is there, and the environmental factor may activate the cancer. Without the genetic proclivity, you get the people who smoke for 80 years and die of old age. With the genetic proclivity, the genes alone might account for the development of the cancer without the environmental triggers, or with much more minor exposure. (Andy Kaufman didn't smoke, but how long was he doing stand-up in smoky clubs, for example?)

So if it's genetic, it's there. Given particular environmental factors, yet to be identified, it could be more severe than it would have been without them. I am not a scientist, but my interest in this has led me to read at least the abstracts of related published research. I'm looking forward to seeing what they figure out.

Lunacie
06-22-10, 10:49 AM
I'm getting a little more comfortable with the idea that environmental factors may initiate or contribute to the severity of a genetic predisposition to any of these conditions, but I still believe that the genetics must already be in place. I've seen too many familial connections where children with ASD or ADD are "the first ones in our family to ever have this!" but whose family history includes depression, OCD, dyslexia, or a combination. I've met a ton of people with ADD and/or ASD kids who meet this criterion, and none who don't. Anecdotal, but there are enough studies showing the same (and now the genetics studies are reiterating that) that I'm thinking my observations may have some basis in fact.

I'm still highly skeptical of the idea that an environmental factor alone would "cause" any of these conditions, but when I think of it like cancer, it seems possible that they may make the pre-existing condition more severe than it would have been otherwise.

Many specific cancers run in families, but in certain cases, the majority of the individuals in the family will share a specific environmental risk factor prior to their diagnosis. For example, smoking and lung cancer. The genetic risk factor could possibly make the difference in whether a smoker develops lung cancer or not, and might explain why certain non-smokers develop it anyway. The genetic proclivity is there, and the environmental factor may activate the cancer. Without the genetic proclivity, you get the people who smoke for 80 years and die of old age. With the genetic proclivity, the genes alone might account for the development of the cancer without the environmental triggers, or with much more minor exposure. (Andy Kaufman didn't smoke, but how long was he doing stand-up in smoky clubs, for example?)

So if it's genetic, it's there. Given particular environmental factors, yet to be identified, it could be more severe than it would have been without them. I am not a scientist, but my interest in this has led me to read at least the abstracts of related published research. I'm looking forward to seeing what they figure out.

Yeah, this is the opinion I favor at this time - that there is so much overlap that there must be some common linkage between all these disorders, and that it has a genetic basis that may be triggered or made worse by environmental factors (as yet undetermined what those factors are).

These have been awesome replies, I figured at least one person would blast me because that is what would have happened 3 or even 2 years ago. Either the scientific opinion is swaying, or the people who insisted that each disorder was unique have left the building.

ginniebean
06-22-10, 12:02 PM
I'm pretty sure there's a connection at least some of the time. In my family we have both ADHD and autism. (and a few other not so cool things)

I actually strongly suspect I have HFA or whatever they call it now. I recently asked my mother why I was diagnosed so young, what things concerned her. She said her biggest concern was that I couldn't walk across a room without tripping over myself, shoes weren't an option and I broke a whole lot of stuff.
I was not overly talkative but I was hyperactive.

well, I can safely say not much has changed.

ADHDTigger
06-27-10, 04:00 PM
or the people who insisted that each disorder was unique have left the building.

Lunacie, there will always be folks determined to die of terminal uniqueness. *sigh*

As I have long believed that I could easily have ASD, I have been in hope that someone would make the connections. My sister is bipolar and depression gallops through the family. We knew that my grandfather had "something" but was never diagnosed.

I have long known that there is a link between ADHD and dyscalculia, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. Who's to say what else?

Lunacie
06-27-10, 07:47 PM
Lunacie, there will always be folks determined to die of terminal uniqueness. *sigh*

As I have long believed that I could easily have ASD, I have been in hope that someone would make the connections. My sister is bipolar and depression gallops through the family. We knew that my grandfather had "something" but was never diagnosed.

I have long known that there is a link between ADHD and dyscalculia, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. Who's to say what else?

I didn't even know what most of those were until I began learning about ADHD. Finally it made sense that I know left from right but always say/write left when I mean right (or east when I mean west), and it finally made sense why I couldn't dial a phone number right the first three times much less write it down correctly.

Although most of the history of ADHD, Asperger's and Autism seem to be on my mom's side of the family, I swear my dad had ADHD as well. He'd be sitting there watching tv and suddenly get up in the middle of a program and go do something he'd forgotten to do or wanted to do before he forgot - or just needed to move around. He died with Dementia or Alzheimer's, now that's some scary genetics.

Amtram
06-27-10, 10:55 PM
Yeah, my uncle (Dad's brother) just died this week after a pretty precipitous mental decline. I mean, it progressed slowly for a few years, and then within a matter of a few months he became violent, lost his ability to speak, was rarely lucid when it came back (it came and went. . .something was sparking and short circuiting in there.)

My Dad is showing the same signs as his brother did five years ago. His mental decline has progressed significantly between August and now. His short-term memory is severely impaired, and without the Exelon patch, he'd have no short term recall at all. As it is, it's very hard to stop him from engaging in pointless repetitive behaviors without taping notes all over the house.

Even though three out of four of us take more after Mom's side than Dad's, there's still a very real possibility that this will hit any one of us. As hard as it might be for us, it's even harder for the loved ones who will take care of us. What my aunt just finished going through and what my mom is just beginning to go through is horribly difficult and stressful. And whatever it is, with both brothers going through the same thing, it looks pretty darned genetic to me.

mike1w
06-28-10, 12:29 PM
My sister in law has three kids with varying levels of autism. She told my wife she thinks I either have aspergers or autism. I discussed it with my therapist. He stated that in my case, the differences far outweighed the similarities, and that anything other than true ADHD combined type ( primarily inattentive ) was extremely unlikely. Of course I do have other issues, mostly they are non-organic.
In this, I trust my therapist more than my sister in law. He knows me better, and has far more training and experience in these matters.
That's not to say that these conditions cannot be co-morbid. They just aren't in my case.

Lunacie
06-28-10, 12:30 PM
Yeah, my uncle (Dad's brother) just died this week after a pretty precipitous mental decline. I mean, it progressed slowly for a few years, and then within a matter of a few months he became violent, lost his ability to speak, was rarely lucid when it came back (it came and went. . .something was sparking and short circuiting in there.)

My Dad is showing the same signs as his brother did five years ago. His mental decline has progressed significantly between August and now. His short-term memory is severely impaired, and without the Exelon patch, he'd have no short term recall at all. As it is, it's very hard to stop him from engaging in pointless repetitive behaviors without taping notes all over the house.

Even though three out of four of us take more after Mom's side than Dad's, there's still a very real possibility that this will hit any one of us. As hard as it might be for us, it's even harder for the loved ones who will take care of us. What my aunt just finished going through and what my mom is just beginning to go through is horribly difficult and stressful. And whatever it is, with both brothers going through the same thing, it looks pretty darned genetic to me.

That's what worries me. My daughter was an only child and now she had two children of her own to care for (one with severe ADHD and one with Autism). I hate the thought that she might have to care for me if my mental health deteriorates beyond the ADHD (possible Autism) that I already have. But what can you do?

ADHDTigger
06-28-10, 05:05 PM
He died with Dementia or Alzheimer's, now that's some scary genetics.

I mean, it progressed slowly for a few years, and then within a matter of a few months he became violent, lost his ability to speak, was rarely lucid when it came back

My grandfather had what they called Senile Dementia back in the 70s but I doubt seriously that it was. He slowly lost his short term memory, became violent, lost the ability to speak, and passed away. While his memory was slipping and badly for several years, from the time he became violent to the time he passed was only a matter of months.

My father has been losing his short term memory for some time now. He recalls his youth with some ease but can't tell you what he had for breakfast... or even if he HAD breakfast. My sisters stay on top of him so that he eats and takes his pills.

humandefault
06-28-10, 06:31 PM
Actually, I am planning on doing my Ph.D. thesis on this very subject! I do believe they are similar trait-wise. My boyfriend has Asperger's and we just seem to understand each other in a way that neither of us has ever experienced before. We both have certain times where being touched is too much, we both can't be in crowded, loud areas for too long, oh the list goes on.
However, the question about behavioral similarities and differences seems, to people in the know, to be a rather obvious thing. As well as the genetic connection to the two disorders (as well as asthma and allergies, in case you didn't know, which is thought to be related to magnesium deficiency for both ADDers and people with ASDs). However, the real question then is: what are the chemical and biological correlates and differences? I don't believe this has been extensively researched, and that very question will, someday, be my theme for my thesis.

Condorman
07-01-10, 06:11 PM
It's been on my mind to ask my doc if I could be on the spectrum somewhere. I scored 39 on an online aspergers test when 32 was the 'suspect' score. I don't believe in the final results of these but when I look at alot of the indicators I tick a lot of the boxes. But as a lot of the boxes are also on the ADHD indicators, it's hard to separate them from a dx.

This is where I think I differ from the ADD list.

Loud noises have a funny affect on me. If I am close to the speakers at a concert, I get an extreme vertigo type feel in my head that kind of paralyses me with the drum elements.

My empathy for others is pretty low and I only really feel extreme emotions. If I see someone crying I don't usually feel anything for them.

Conversationally, I'm pretty cliched and limited to a few topics that I can start myself but the ones I do start are only about my interests.

There are more but these are the reasons why I think ADHD is linked or that the traits of both are closely related.

Nickis2legit
07-09-10, 07:08 PM
I think there might be a slight link to it, you either have one but that might share some traits that are on the autism spectrum. For instance I have ADHD-PI and before I was dx'd I could bs all my work and just be fine with a C average, when still I have pretty good social skills. In my class there's a kid who has aspergers and if you just watch him for a couple minutes he does very odd movements while sitting at his desk, for example he always has his pencil inside his mouth and you can notice that he does odd stretches in the middle of class and when he talks it takes him forever to get his point across. It's very interesting though because in his head he has more intelict than any kid in my class but he just can't process those thoughts and can't express his intellect verbally, also he has horrible hand writing. So personally I don't think the 2 are linked at all but thats just my perspective of things.