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Do You Have Autism Attention Deficit Disorder Confusion?

Mar 13, 2008
Though it is not known why autism, attention deficit disorder, as well as other autism spectrum conditions have become increasingly common, their instances have continued to rise substantially over the past few decades. The controversy surrounding this issue is currently escalating as quickly as the rate of instances. Another challenge is the diagnosis - and misdiagnosis - of these conditions, leading to common autism attention deficit confusion.

The term "autism" covers a broad range of conditions and symptoms ranging dramatically in their severity, causing it to frequently be referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD includes autism itself, Asperger's syndrome, as well as other pervasive developmental disorders. It does not, however, include attention deficit disorder (ADD) nor attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Nevertheless, the autism attention deficit confusion remains due to the similarity frequently witnessed in the symptoms of each condition. As there is no single specified group of symptoms that occurs in every instance of either autism or attention deficit disorder it can make them hard to diagnose, especially for the lay person.

The key to making sure that the right diagnosis is achieved, and that autism and attention deficit confusion is avoided, is to understand the signs and symptoms of both disorders. Self-education is a parent's best tool for understanding what he or she is and is not facing in their child.

Both conditions will present in the same way at the beginning, both socially and biologically. Both conditions include a lacking in the executive functions (planning, decision-making and response control) within the brain's frontal lobes, and have a number of shared symptoms. Even autism and attention deficit disorder research have similarities in the behaviors and behavioral processes that are studied and believed to be linked to impairments in brain functioning. Furthermore, both conditions include a form of deficiency in both fine and gross motor skills.

However, despite these commonalities in symptoms, autism and ADD confusion is just that - a confusion between two entirely different disorders. That being said, when ADD and ADHD are diagnosed, doctors will not routinely screen for autism. The onus is placed upon parents, teachers, and other caregivers to observe behaviors that deviate from ADD, and to identify a narrower perspective with regards to the child's behavioral issues.

Should misdiagnosis be suspected, it is wise for parents to familiarize themselves with the various behaviors common to both autism and ADD and then to recognize the differences.

Behaviors frequently seen in autistic children include:

- Difficulty socializing with other children the same or different ages.
- Difficulty socializing with adults
- Lack of fear of danger
- Tantrums - showing large degrees of distress for no clear reason
- Inappropriate laughing
- Dislike of cuddling
- Little to no eye contact made
- Notable physical over- or under-activity
- Uneven fine and/or gross motor skills
- Impulsive working habits with frequent sloppiness and careless mistakes

On the other hand, behaviors frequently seen in children with ADD or ADHD include:

- Inability to speak or play quietly; disruptive in speech or behaviors
- Struggles to wait his or her turn in a game, line, or other similar activity
- Takes part in activities with a high risk of danger
- A lack of normal consideration for caution or consequences
- Extreme temper tantrums
- Disruptive, interrupting, speaking and behaving inappropriately
- Difficulty being held or soothed when very young
- Always active and moving, even while asleep
- Doesn't appear to be listening when directly spoken to
- Uneven fine and/or gross motor skills
- Doesn't pay attention to finder details and makes careless mistakes in tasks

With these lists of symptoms, it is clear to see why misdiagnosis and autism attention deficit confusion is so common. Vigilance and education are the keys to overcoming these errors.
About the Author
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