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Difference Between ADHD and Autism

ADHD Vs Autism

Basically, ADHD (completely known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is when a person indulges in too much activity to the point that he can no longer focus his attention to a given object or task under normal circumstances. There is a recurrent feature of being impulsive, aside from the common inattention to other things. Impulsive and inattention are two of the most identifiable characteristics of ADHD.

Because these individuals are unable to focus on one task for a prolonged period of time, you’ll almost always notice them shifting tasks and frequently moving about. They really can’t stay in a single place for a long time or else they will become anxious or get bored. Nevertheless, you need not worry that much because if ever your child has ADHD, there’s still a big probability of him outgrowing the condition most especially when he reach the age of twenty and above.

Autism is when a person has poor or underdeveloped social skills. In this regard, the autistic person is not able to clearly interpret or distinguish body language. He is also unable to emphatize with other people. These characteristics are said to be attributed to the absence of mirror neurons in the central nervous system.

Autism is a more complex developmental disorder that affects many developmental dimensions of the individual. When at 3 years old, the child demonstrates certain significant restrictions in communication, interaction and behavior (repetitive) then most likely he is autistic. Sometimes autism surfaces at one year old and other cases even manifest early at birth (although you can’t conclude directly that it is autistic behavior unless there are several tests done). Because there are many dimensions and other variables to be considered, autism is usually very difficult to diagnose.

Autistic children have a hard time developing language. Even if they have already learned some new words, there’s still a big chance of losing such knowledge as time passes by. Autistic children practice a sense of ‘social retreat.’ This means that they are mostly introverted and don’t want to interact with other kids even at playtime. Most of them don’t even want to make eye contact at all. They also have sensory issues like when they identify certain stimuli as addictive (e.g. rotating fan blades). They also do repetitive motions like hand flapping.

It is also interesting to note that many autistic kids are found to have high IQs. Although they have this much mental capacity, they actually have built a ‘world’ of their own which is difficult to penetrate from the outside.

All in all, although both conditions are classified as developmental disorders they still differ in the following aspects:
1. Autism is a more complex problem compared to ADHD.
2. Autism has hallmark characteristics of repetitive behavior, language and sensory problems, and social retreat. ADHD is seen when the individual is impulsive, hyperactive, inattentive and easily gets bored.

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  1. When was this crap written? There are so many things here that we know now are just plain wrong. We do not grow out of ADHD – the hyperactivity becomes more inward resulting in greater anxiety, we learn to manage the symptoms in some ways. And we can, and do, focus on tasks we find enjoyable for long periods of time (such as video games or a good book).

    Autistic children are not all introverts. Autistic children generally have Sensory Processing Disorder and mentally close themselves off from the barrage of sensory and information that assaults them. When treated and taught to manage those sensory issues, the autist may be very social, although their social skills may make them seem odd.

    Both ADHD and Autism are spectrum disorders. This means that just like any demographic you’ll find some with below average intelligence, and some with above average intelligence, and the great majority with average intelligence. Neither disorder has been shown to boost intelligence in any way.

    Not all ADHDers are hyperactive, nor to the same degree. Again, it’s a spectrum disorder and every person with ADHD (or Autism) has their own peculair set of traits and degrees of difficulty – which can change from day to day or hour to hour. The most consistent thing about those with either disorder is their inconsistency.

    Sherry – dx with ADHD, Autism, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD
    grandmother to two with ADHD, Autism, Anxiety and Depression

    • Sherry, Thank God for your response. I had a look of disgust on my face from the first sentence of this article.
      “Basically, ADHD (completely known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is when a person indulges in too much activity to the point that he can no longer focus his attention to a given object or task under normal circumstances.”
      That is the most misleading load of BS. The inattention is NOT caused by hyperactivity, and the hyperactivity is NOT a result of “indulgence”.
      Thank you for mentioning Sensory Processing Disorder. ADHD is not the lack of attention (as most people assume), but a reduced ability to differentiate important from unimportant sensory information. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone tells me to “just ignore” whatever sensory information is distracting me (loud or repeated noises and harsh light are the two worst for me). There is no “ignoring” it. I do not have the capacity to just ignore one thing, without completely shutting myself down from the world around me. The sooner people understand that, the easier all our lives will be.

  2. Anna, your comments are spot on. My daughter doesn’t really understand the sensory issues, but she is less judgmental about them since her daughter was diagnosed with Autism. This morning she opened the front door and the sunlight reflected off her car windshield straight into my eyes – it actually feels painful when that happens. My eyes snapped shut and I staggered a step to the cabinet and leaned on it for a minute before I could open my eyes again. At first she thought my migraine headache had returned, but then she saw the light shining on something behind me and realized what it was. I don’t know if it’s the meds I’m taking or whether my eyes are just more sensitive as I age, but driving is getting harder every year with sunlight reflecting off windows and chrome, and headlights beaming right in my eyes.
    And the sounds – I’m going to kill the next ice cream truck that drives down my street. Not the driver – just the truck. LOL

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