Signs and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Dr. Ali Kumble

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders in children, affecting 7.2% of people under the age of 18 worldwide. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that affects social communication, interactions, and behaviour.

The symptoms of ASD and ADHD overlap. Most children with ASD may have symptoms of ADHD. These include difficulty settling down, social awkwardness, an ability to focus only on things that interest them, and impulsivity.

Roughly, two-thirds of children with ADHD have at least one co-existing condition. Some studies suggest that up to half of kids with ASD also have ADHD. ADHD is not part of autism.

Early features of ASD

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Limited display of language
  • Having little interest in other children
  • Getting upset by minor changes in routine

The screening of ASD is recommended for those at risk, like pre-term LBW babies, positive family history, parental concern, environmental exposure like lead (metal), etc.

  • Evaluation of child in ASD
  • Physical examination
  • Dysmorphic physical feature
  • Head circumstances
  • Detailed neurological assessment
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Chromosomal micro array
  • Fragile X DNA test>
  • Audiology evaluation
  • Serum – lead level
  • Metabolic screening
  • EEG
  • MRI
  • Treatment
  • Educational
  • Development and educational programming
  • Intense behavioural therapy 
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Social skill programme

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Marked by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, ADHD is primarily a disorder of self-regulation and executive function.Kids with ADHD may not be able to stick to from (taking to play), but they understand it. They may not respond when called because of attention problem, but they are often socially engaged and recognize their names and what that means.Proper evaluation and management are indicated in these conditions.

Behavioural therapy

Early intervention for social and communication skills and therapy are rewarding.

Picture exchange communication systems and verbal behaviour intervention are also effective.

Correcting a nutrient deficiency and avoiding certain diet – gluten-free, sugar-free, etc – also help.

The earlier a child is diagnosed or identified to be at risk of developing autism the sooner they can start receiving intervention and therapy

Along with behaviour therapy, social-skills training is important to enabling the child to form sustainable peer relationships and to enhance the child’s acceptability and self-esteem. 

Dr. Ali Kumble, MBBS, MD (Paediatrics), is the chairman of Indiana Hospital and Heart Institute, Mangaluru, and Head of Paediatrics at Indiana Hospital.

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