Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD in Adults

Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD are two neurodevelopmental disorders with a high co-occurrence rate. This rate does not change in the adulthood phase, and it is observed as two conditions accompanying each other at high rates. They face similar but unique problems and challenges. It can be said that there are similarities in symptoms in order to get a clinical evaluation and diagnosis. Research on autism and ADHD in adults is very limited. As such, clinicians and professionals generally agree on the diagnosis of these disorders and the initiation of treatment for these individuals.

As mentioned above, there is not enough and sufficient data and research in the literature on autism and ADHD in adults. Despite this, the probability of co-occurrence of these disorders is estimated to be between 20% and 40%.

Although ADHD and autism symptoms are largely similar, they have characteristic symptoms at some points. Inadequate social communication and certain restricted behaviors are symptoms of both, but ADHD also includes inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

However, the symptoms of ADHD and autism may overlap or be largely similar to the diagnostic criteria. For example, a classic inattention problem of ADHD which is not listening to the other person when they are talking may also be an indication of having a problem with the social communication of autism. If this is observed in an adult and he/she is not making eye contact, it can give the impression that the person is disrespectful. The difference between these conditions can be understood as a result of psychiatric evaluations. It helps to diagnose ADHD if it is caused by distraction or to diagnose autism if it is due to a lack of non-verbal communication.

The views and opinions of clinicians are very important at the point of diagnosis of ADHD and autism. It is critical for them to understand whether the ADHD symptom is related to social communication and understanding. For example, if an adult says that he/she has trouble focusing and is constantly distracted while working alone at home, that is, without any social stimuli, this indicates ADHD rather than autism. Therefore, the alleged distractions should be considered more and carefully analyzed.

Adults with autism have more ADHD symptoms than children with autism. Therefore, functional impairments are more disturbing in adults with autism. Their lives become more challenging. This conclusion was reached as a result of a study conducted on the frequency and severity of autism and ADHD-related behaviors.

Can a Person Be Diagnosed With ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder at the Same Time?

It is a known fact that the majority of individuals diagnosed with autism also exhibit ADHD symptoms. ADHD and autism are the most common conditions with the highest co-occurrence. Despite this, individuals diagnosed with ADHD in the first place are not that likely to have autism. If there is difficulty in social skills or hypersensitivity at specific points, it can be said that ADHD accompanies autism. This means they have low-level autism symptoms.

What Are the Similarities Between Autism and ADHD in Adults?

Both ADHD and autism are neurodevelopmental disorders that negatively affect brain development. They are disorders that have negative effects on the central nervous system. Throughout the years there are many scientific studies have been conducted on the coexistence of these two disorders. It has been stated that the frequency of co-occurrence is high, but a clear reason for this has not been revealed.

These two developmental disorders greatly affect brain development. The most important ones include the executive function of the brain. For example, focus, decision-making, impulsivity, and time management are some of them. In addition to these, many individuals have an inadequacy in social skills. When evaluated in terms of gender, it can be said that the two disorders are more common in men than in women, but the reason for this can be based on very different reasons.

The coexistence of ADHD and autism observed in adults is not as easy as it can be observed in children, but it is also not common. The reason for this can be shown to be that while autism is a lifelong disorder, ADHD symptoms can be controlled until adulthood.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) In Adults

Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in childhood but continues in adult life. Children usually encounter symptoms such as difficulty in following the rules set with clearer lines, a marked decrease in attention span compared to their peers, and difficulty in receiving and maintaining instructions at the beginning of school. These symptoms can be attributed to the child’s “temperament” or being a “difficult child”, and diagnosis and treatment may be delayed.

Nevertheless, in recent years, the increase in awareness of the disorder both among physicians and in society has increased the referrals made to professionals in the field through school or family. However, while impulsivity and hyperactivity are still in the foreground, the diagnosis can be made more easily, while the diagnosis may be delayed in cases that only show symptoms of attention-deficit.

ADHD, which can start with many symptoms such as mobility in childhood, inability to sit up, low success in school, inability to follow directions without assistance, boredom easily, and difficulty in obeying rules and limits, may manifest itself with different symptoms in adolescence. For example, when combined with the characteristics of the adolescence period, risky behaviors may increase. It is also known that adolescents with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder are more prone to risky situations that may put them in trouble compared to those who do not have ADHD.

Although hyperactivity usually decreases in adulthood, it may continue to cause many difficulties such as being late, poor time management, inability to organize complex tasks, inefficiency at work, frequent job changes, inability to cope with stress, and marital problems. It can also coexist with many other disorders such as anxiety disorder, mood disorders, and alcohol substance use disorders. This may make the diagnosis of ADHD in adults more difficult and may affect the quality of life of the person more negatively.

30% of adults with ADHD suffer from fears and depression. The risk of developing addiction at older ages is very high. For example, up to 50% of alcoholics have symptoms of ADHD that existed in their childhood. Many people with ADHD experience severe nicotine consumption because excessive nicotine consumption is a form of self-medication, as nicotine also attacks dopamine transfer and thus corrects the dopamine deficiency that is causing the symptoms. In addition, all types of addiction can be observed in an increased form such as food addiction, shopping addiction, kleptomania, gambling addiction, etc.

These individuals also tend to risk driving or doing dangerous sports. They always look for the most extreme dangers and changes. As an adult, the risk of having an accident is high. For example, people who touch the bumper of the vehicle in front because they didn’t give way in time while traveling at 200 km/h may be adults with ADHD.

In addition to all this, we do not want to pass without mentioning that ADHD has many positive aspects. These people are original, unique, and creative people. They come up with bold new ideas that are often unsettling because they don’t follow the rules and are not afraid to question anything.

There are many successful people with ADHD that are not at the disorder level but can be accepted as the norm variable of “a certain type”. If these people decide on the right profession, they often come up with ingenious and insurmountable results with their enthusiasm and inexhaustible activity. It is possible to encounter a large number of highly successful ADHD people who work in different areas of the media or are computer specialists. These people are highly valued, but they are tiring for the people around them.

ADHD becomes a condition that requires treatment only when serious difficulties arise in the field of work or relationships, or when depression and addiction develop. Therefore, very specific treatment programs should be offered. At this point, new approaches have emerged in the treatment of addiction. The diagnosis of ADHD and information about this disorder are important at this point, because conventional counseling, especially psychoanalytic and revealing counseling, is not very effective in the treatment of ADHD. A personalized counseling concept appropriate to the ADHD problem and specific issues is required.

In adult psychiatry, some disorders seen in adulthood cannot be clarified correctly without considering the information about ADHD and are often treated incorrectly. Treating addiction or depression alone is not enough because it does not address the entire spectrum of ADHD, but is only the tip of the iceberg. But underwater is a point that must be taken into account when planning to counsel for ADHD. In addition, common misdiagnoses include borderline disorders or manic-depressive disorders.

Many studies on attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder have shown the neurobiological basis of the disorder. For this reason, it is a priority to evaluate both drug therapy and comorbidities equally. Professionals will decide as a result of their evaluations which drug is suitable for the person and how the treatment should be continued. Then, an additional counseling process can be started by considering the areas of difficulty experienced by the person.

In conclusion, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder is a disorder that has the potential to affect not only childhood but also all adult life. When many life stressors come together with comorbidity in adulthood, recognition may become even more difficult. If you think that you or someone close to you has attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, it is necessary to consult a psychiatrist both for the evaluation and for the treatment to be organized to minimize the effect of the disorder on your life.

TrueBalance Coordination Game Balance Toy for Adults and Kids | Improves Fine Motor Skills (Mini Blue)

It is an excellent balance toy for both children and adults. It is not very easy to play but definitely for focus and patience. It develops fine motor movements, concentration, focus, and critical thinking skills. It brings the family together. It is perfect for individuals with or without autism. It is a perfect gift alternative for teachers to play with their students. Also, it is a great addition to occupational therapy.

Muffik Sensory Orthopedic Puzzle Mat for Kids & Toddlers – Natural Surfaces for Feet – Stepping Stones Fidget Toy Set- Floor Lava Game Kids Toys – Autism Sensory Mat – Fidget Toys – Medium 2 Set

It is a great addition to your house as a toy if you want your kid knows the texture of the environment more or less. It is one of the best toys to help children to discover the world. While touching the mat, develops their fine motor skills and at the same time, they will understand that there are different textures in the environment. Their tactile sensations will be improved in this way. There are sensations to remind stone, cones, and blades of grass. It is puzzle-shaped. While playing with these puzzle pieces, they give comfort, especially to individuals on the autism spectrum. It enhances creativity and imagination. Overall, it is a perfect addition you want to have in your environment. 

Figetget Keep It Steady Fun Family Games for Kids and Adults – Balance & Patience Training – Wooden Stick Toys for Creative Kids Games

It is one of the must-have toys you need to have in your house. It is for everyone of all ages. It is very easy to learn how to play thanks to the instruction that comes with it. They are very clear. It is very easy to play, You just need to roll the dice and draw the stick. The stick should be in the same color as what you see on the dice. Until there are only 3 sticks left you need to play and it will develop your patience and balance. Apart from that, those bright colors are beneficial to promote color recognition and the size of the sticks will develop size understanding. Overall, It can be a very fun gift alternative. 

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