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Difference Between ADHD and Asperger Syndrome

Maturation of the brain, as reflected in the age at which a cortex area attains peak thickness, in ADHD (above) and normal development (below). Lighter areas are thinner, darker areas thicker. Light blue in the ADHD sequence corresponds to the same thickness as light purple in the normal development sequence. The darkest areas in the lower part of the brain, which are not associated with ADHD, had either already peaked in thickness by the start of the study, or, for statistical reasons, were not amenable to defining an age of peak cortex thickness. Movie of same data below. Source: NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch

ADHD vs. Asperger Syndrome

ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is one of the commonest neurobehavioural disorders of children and affects around 5 to 10% of children. Asperger’s syndrome is also known as Asperger’s disorder and is now classified as an Autism spectrum disorder.

Differences in causes
There is no exact cause yet known due to which ADHD is seen in children. Asperger’s syndrome is more often due to genetic causes and there is a lack of social interaction along with non-verbal communication problems.

Difference in symptoms
ADHD presents in children as tremendous restlessness and hyperactive behaviour which is unintended and purposeless. ADHD children tend to constantly move about from one place to another and have great difficulty in concentrating on playing with one toy or sitting down for a while for studies. There is a very short span of attention noted in these children due to which they seem to lose interest in activities very quickly. They need to be occupied with multiple games and activities one after the other continuously.

Asperger’s syndrome presents as a sharp contrast to ADHD. Children are noted to have monoplay i.e playing for hours with one toy and repetitive behaviour. A child with Asperger’s syndrome might be physically clumsy and will not develop many friends as they lack the typical social instinct. They cannot easily form and participate in normal give and take relationships. They cannot show expressions as their peers and will not reciprocate socially to loved ones.
Children with ADHD will always be demanding and desire constant activity whereas children having Asperger’s will prefer being quiet and engrossed with one object/toy for hours together.

Asperger’s syndrome patients will not break a routine whereas ADHD patients will never have a routine as they cannot follow the same set of activities again and again.

Asperger’s syndrome patients tend to be very focused and attentive. Many of them will display selective mutism and will not talk to specific people at all. Restricted interests are a characteristic of Asperger’s syndrome whereas varied interests and inattentive behaviour is a characteristic of ADHD.

Difference in diagnosis
The diagnosis of ADHD is made when there is persistent inattention for 6 months at a stretch along with symptoms of inactivity, inattention and restlessness. ADHD does not have any physical tests to diagnose but observation of behaviour is very typical and diagnosis is easy. An Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis is most commonly made between the age groups 4 and 11 years by using the Asperger’s Syndrome Diagnostic Scale. The parents can diagnose the misbehaviour as early as 30 months of age as there is obvious dislike for social interaction.

Summary: ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome are both disorders of the behaviour and parents should be very alert about the symptoms. ADHD can be resolved if the child is raised with a lot of care and special attention, but Asperger’s syndrome will is impossible to cure as the exact cause is unknown. The hyperactivity of ADHD can be controlled with mild sedatives but the social averseness of Asperger’s cannot be remedied with drugs. Behaviour therapy and group therapy may help them become independent to a fair extent.

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  1. There are differences in the manifestation of symptoms but both are neuro-behavioral disorders with the common underlying problem of functional disconnection syndrome. You can read about the syndrome and how to correct it at http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/the-truth/ .

  2. This article has so many major inaccuracies it is ridiculous. No one knows for sure what causes Asperger’s so to say it is hereditary is wrong. ADHD may run in families but it is usually caused by a chemical imbalance and the major cause is not genetics. People with ADHD have the same cognitive capabilities as any other group of people. As many people with ADHD are shy as are outspoken. Asperger’s is not characterized as making people focused. There are many people with Asperger’s who are intellectual but equally as many who are severally academically challenged. It is very difficult for someone to confuse these two conditions.

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