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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and difficulty sustaining attention. It is often diagnosed in childhood and can persist into adulthood, with symptoms varying among individuals.

Though it may be normal for children to have trouble focusing and controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking) or be overly active at one time or another, children with ADHD do not just grow out of these behaviors. Their symptoms continue, grow more severe, and cause difficulties at school, at home, or among friends.

A child with ADHD might:

  • Daydream a lot
  • Forget or lose things a lot
  • Squirm or fidget
  • Talk too much 
  • Make careless mistakes or take unnecessary risks
  • Have a hard time resisting temptation
  • Have trouble taking turns
  • Have difficulty getting along with others

ADHD can range from mild to severe, depending on physiology and environment. This can affect school, work, and social situations. In fact, many young children enter school with behavioral and cognitive symptoms that put them at a significant disadvantage compared with their typically-developing peers.

  • About 5 in 10 children with ADHD had a behavior or conduct problem.
  • About 3 in 10 children with ADHD had anxiety.

Here are some of the symptoms and challenges that people with ADHD and autism often share:

  • Impulsivity: Including speaking out of turn and jumping up when it’s inappropriate
  • Lack of focus: In ADHD, typically being distracted by external events, and in autism, being distracted by your own thoughts and ideas
  • Problems with executive functioning: Difficulties in the ability to organize time, tasks, and projects
  • Challenges with social interaction and making friends
  • Learning differences and disabilities
  • Sensory challenges: Over- or under-responsiveness to light, sound, touch
  • Emotional immaturity: Difficulty in managing anger and frustration

The Difference Between Autism and ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism are both neurodevelopmental disorders, and they have several symptoms in common. For example, people with autism and ADHD may both be impulsive, and people with both disorders may develop speech later than is typical in children.

While the symptoms of ADHD and autism may not look the same on paper, they can look very similar in person.

Traits like distractibility and impulsivity, for example, are part of the ADHD diagnosis. While they’re not part of the autism diagnosis, they appear in most people with autism. Speech delays and idiosyncrasies are part of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and not the ADHD diagnosis. Yet, people with ADHD often have speech delays.

ASD affects a person’s social communication and interaction in various contexts. There is no cure, but support can help people make progress in the areas that they find challenging.

Children with ASD have a limited scope of interest; however, they may also have high levels of focus on favored topics. They may seem to obsess over things that they enjoy (may be able to recall facts and details easily) but have difficulty focusing on things they don’t.

ADHD, on the other hand, is a prevalent condition that can affect concentration, impulse control, and cognitive processes like planning before acting.

Children with ASD may exhibit the following traits:

  • Difficulty expressing emotions and thoughts
  • Limited use of gestures for communication
  • Challenges with maintaining eye contact
  • A tendency to obsess over a single conversational topic
  • Differences in play behavior, including struggles with turn-taking and imaginative play
  • Limited initiation or response in social interactions

In contrast, a child with ADHD might engage in nonstop talking, displaying a higher likelihood of interrupting others during conversations and attempting to dominate discussions. It’s essential to consider the subject matter, as some children with autism can talk extensively about topics of particular interest to them.

Children with ASD typically exhibit a preference for order and repetition. They often display a strong inclination toward maintaining consistency and adhering to established routines or ritualized patterns of both verbal and nonverbal behavior. For instance, they may repeatedly read the same book or insist on having identical meals for dinner every night. Any alterations to these routines can lead to distress and irritability.

In contrast, a child with ADHD may not share this affinity for sameness, even if it could potentially benefit them. Children with ADHD tend to avoid engaging in the same activity repeatedly or for prolonged periods, preferring variety and change in their activities.

What Are The Signs of ADHD?

Predominantly Inattentive
Kids who are inattentive (easily distracted) have trouble focusing their attention, concentrating, and staying on task.

Main Signs of Inattentiveness

Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive
Kids of this subtype feel restless and have trouble with impulsivity.  Easily bored, they find it difficult to sit still for long periods (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly and invariably, have more accidents and injuries than others. Without meaning to, they may act in ways that disrupt others.

Main Signs of Hyperactivity & Impulsiveness

Combined
Symptoms of the inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive sub types are equally present. Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well. 

Early Intervention
Behavior therapy works best when it begins early in a child’s life because younger children have simpler problems that may be responsive to ABA therapy.

The elasticity of a younger child’s brain is more amenable to intervention. As a result, the child’s self-esteem remains intact, family dysfunction is reduced and the prognosis for school is much brighter.

Children with ADHD often struggle in school and in the community due to a lack of help and from a misunderstanding of their condition. This can lead to frustration, increasing inappropriate behavior, poor academic achievement, and eventually low self-esteem and depression.

LEARN MORE ABOUT EARLY INTERVENTION

Parent/Family Coaching
Parent and family coaching in ABA therapy for ADHD involves working to positively navigate through tantrums, defiance and tuning out parental instructions that can substantially improve lives, and the well-being of the family dynamic.

It guides parents to interact differently with children and young adults in order to elicit desirable behavior and discourage disruptive ones. ABA therapy that focuses on coaching parents is recommended for young children with ADHD because young children are not mature enough to change their own behavior without their parents’ help.

 LEARN MORE ABOUT PARENT & FAMILY COACHING

The teenager years – notably one of the hardest periods in any life – establishes the benchmark of life finding a place between soaring passions and horrific despair.  Stress. Grades. Acne Puberty. Socialization. Romance. All are just a few of the landmines on the way to the grand adult transition.

Young adults with ADHD often experience distractibility and poor concentration, made worse by the demands of school, intense socialization pressures, and hormonal changes of adolescence.

Some emotional consequences of ADHD include impulsive eating, irritability, meltdowns and angry outbursts, excessive use of electronics and video games for self-soothing, difficulty focusing due to exhaustion and fatigue, lack of motivation, uncooperative behavior with parents and siblings.

We rely on establishing a strong collaborative relationship with parents for the best behavioral outcomes. Providing parents with effective tools and knowledge to provide can lead to increased self-confidence, hope in positive treatment outcomes, acceptance of challenges, and refining parenting skills to other children at home.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES – ADOLESCENT YEARS

Without treatment, ADHD can lead to poor grades, missed assignments and frequent moments of inattentiveness.  As the teenager continues to mature, ADHD reenergizes itself with impulsiveness, immaturity and risk-taking/thrill seeking which may lead to car accidents, heavy drinking, and substance abuse.

Often teens with ADHD work extra hard to maintain focus and use appropriate behavior at school and work, which can lead to emotional “unloading” and attention dysregulation when they are home.