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Is ADHD a form of autism?

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) are co-existential neurodevelopmental disorders but not a form of each other. A diagnosis of one may increase the chances of the other, but ADHD is not a form of autism.

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurological condition that makes people behave differently from others. Autism is a spectrum, meaning its symptoms vary according to the individual. For some, it affects their speech and kinetics. For others, it may include intense anger and engaging in repetitive behaviour.

Forms of Autism

There are various forms of autism. Medically it is referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). When an individual's autism spectrum affects their intelligence, it is often referred to as Asperger's Syndrome.

Is ADHD a form of autism? See how they coexist.

It is possible to have a situation where a diagnosis of ADHD affects or increases the chances of diagnosis of the other. That is how they coexist. They have similar symptoms such as hyperactivity, fidgeting, and feeling frustrated. An individual with these conditions will have difficulty socializing and building friendships. But while an individual with ADHD may experience frequent reprimands, it may not be the case for one with autism. Frequent reprimands can increase dependencies and reduce individual self-esteem, which is not a typical case with autism.

Other symptoms of ADHD and Autism

The symptoms of ADHD and autism can be similar, but here are some ways to differentiate them.

Social Difficulties

Social difficulties are linked to both ADHD and ASD. Children diagnosed with this condition often have problems managing relationships. They find it hard to communicate their feelings and thoughts and have difficulty making eye contact or understanding body language.

Attention or Focus

A person diagnosed with ADHD struggles to focus on tasks over a long period, leading to frequent shifts in focus.

Children with autism will always love to focus on their favourite subject and would put less effort into something outside their interests. A child with ADHD, on the other hand, would neither do any.


Children with ADHD have difficulties with communication, and you would notice this when they talk continuously. They would also likely interrupt other people when talking and be very careless with words.

Children with autism will hardly speak. They have difficulty expressing themselves, won't like to relate or play with others, barely maintain eye contact or gestures, and even when involved in a conversation, they will always want to talk about a particular topic, always fixative.


Autistic children will always want to follow their routines and not be opened to change or interference in what is already existing. If such changes occur, they will likely get upset and become reactive.

A child with ADHD prefers to engage in something unique, so they are not great with routines. They quickly get bored by it and will lose interest in activities without variety.

Specific Symptoms of ADHD AND ASD

Specific symptoms of ADHD include

  • Easily distracted

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Talking nonstop

  • Hyperactivity

  • Have trouble sitting still

  • Constantly interrupting conversations or activities

  • Inability to react to other's emotions

Specific Symptoms of ASD

  • Unresponsive to stimuli

  • Intense concentration on a particular thing or activity

  • Repetitive

  • Can't make eye contact

  • Hardly interact with others

  • Lack of concern for others

How to improve Symptoms of ADHD and ASD

You can manage the symptoms of both ADHD and ASD with the following:

  • Environment: Being in a stress-free environment can help manage the adverse effects of these conditions.

  • Regular massage: Massage helps reduce stress, increase relaxation, and effectively manage this condition.

Causes of ADHD and ASD

There is no exact cause of these conditions; however, they can be genetically inherited from parents.

An individual with both conditions will have high-stress levels and anxiety resulting from hyperactivity, talking too fast and all the time, learning problems, etc.

For kids, if the environment created by the parents is not calm, kids can show more hyperactivity and other ADHD symptoms.

So, observing a child's behaviour and providing a calm environment can be soothing.

Nevertheless, there is no research currently available that has related the cause of both conditions to bad parenting.


ADHD and ASD are related but not a form of each other.

A diagnosis of one can increase the chances of the other due to their similarity.

While autism may not be considered a sickness, early diagnosis is strongly advised for effective clinical management.

If you have concerns about ADHD in your child, you should pay close attention to the child with observable symptoms and help them get a doctor for early diagnosis.

Leaving an individual to grow with these conditions can cause impairment.

You can get both an ADHD and ASD consultant psychiatrist now.

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