Home > Science > ADHD Symptoms in Children with Autism

ADHD Symptoms in Children with Autism

 The symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) create significant problems for over half of all children with autism and may be both under-recognized and under-treated by pediatricians. These findings—from Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network (ATN)—were presented Sunday at The Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics annual conference, in San Antonio, Texas. For more information see our news item here

  1. Noreen
    September 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Amen! My child has a double Dx plus subsets of language disorders to boot! Autism if very complicated and no two kids are alike but Parents should look into Double Dx’s (which is very common indeed). Sometimes there are many things OCD, Tourette’s, Bipolar, bed wetting, anxiety, mania, epilepsy that is in the childs future as the hormones kick in.

  2. Jamey A
    September 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I totally agree! I think we are finding that our son is more ADHD than Autistic, but of course, is both… good post :)

  3. Annie
    September 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Finally!!! i have a teenage son (15) who is classic autistic has language disorders and also has adhd. other then that hes just like one of us.

  4. Deanna Price
    September 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I am so glad that this is being brought to the light. My child also has a double Dx.

  5. michele
    September 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    We have been treating my son for hyper impulsiveness as well as Aspergers, but as he approaches 4yrs, the ADHD is still showing its wonderful face!

  6. Melissa
    September 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    My son is seven and has add,adhd, bipolar, odd, anexity, depression,epilepsy, mood disorder an is being tested for autisim among other medical issues. It is very hard.

  7. September 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Does anyone use ADHD meds to help out with it?? If so, have you seen any drastic changes?

    • Michele
      September 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      My son takes Focalin XR (an ADHD med), and it makes a world of difference!

      • Tracie
        September 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

        My son was first diagnosed with ADHD, then later in life the Pediatrician stated that she just cannot help him anymore and we had him retested for a LD and Autism. We found out that he has a disorder of written expression and he is PDD-NOS and anxiety. He takes Focalin for his ADHD and he takes Remeron (sp?) for his anxiety. We just went through a series of the Integrated Listening System. He is doing wonderful as a new 7th grader! IEP meeting is coming up in 2 weeks, I cannot wait to hear the progress he has been making!

    • mouse
      September 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      yes …both of my sons are on intuniv…they both have autism my oldest with aspergers..they seem more calm and able to keep to a task

    • Sonja
      September 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      JoHanna, My daughter has ADHD and has aspergers sydrome with a touch of OCD. We had issues with school she was put on concerta for her ADHD and we have seen a major improvement in her school work she is now getting A’s and B’s and can concentrate better . She has foregotten to take it a few times and she gets in trouble at school everytime she does not take it. I also see a change at home. when it wares off she is very hyper and has a hard time concentrating.The only downfall is she does not eat alot when she is on the concerta I put her on a lower dose in the summer so she will eat better and since I have done that she has not had to have her dose increased so far.

    • Allyssa
      September 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      My son started Ritalin this summer. Jury’s still out though is teacher says there’s been an improvement. I will tell you that my son’s OT really hit home when she said that if she could get his attention, it would be so much easier to address the other issues he deals with. So here we are. Not convinced but proceeding with caution. PDD-NOS/ADHD 7 year old

    • September 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      My son has been on a range of ADHD medications; the most recent is Focalin. All of the medication has worked wonders with his ability to focus. He is a straight A student and that would not be possible at all without the medications, as his ability to focus without it is nonexistent. With that said, when we changed his medication to Focalin last year he told me and his doctor that he feels more “sociable” on the medicine. Needless to say the Focalin costs a great deal more than the Adderall he had been taking at that point, but when he made that statement to the doctor and me I knew it was worth it.

    • September 19, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      My son just started Intuniv ER last week… and he is ASD, Bipolar and also has a little anxiety.. they have always tried to treat him for adhd.. i try and tell them.. errr… but he takes risperdal and intuniv…

    • September 20, 2011 at 9:34 am

      My 15 year old has Aspergers, depression and ADHD and yes, we use meds. Without meds, he cannot organize or stay focused. He would do his homework (with alot of prodding), but could’nt find his work to turn it in the next day. He also is easily agitated and not “even keeled” when off his meds. He takes Vyvanse (only on school days) which has helped tremendously. He can stay focused in class and stays organized. The meds wear off in the afternoon, but he usually has his homework done by then. Then for the rest of the day, we have to remind him to stay focus and follow through with whatever he is trying to do. He takes meds for depression (daily) as well. The depression meds help with behaviors. I can’t say that every child should be on meds, but for us, it works.

  8. Cassandra Kovolesky
    September 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    My son who is 4yrs was diagonised since hes been 2 with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Weve been to many doctors and specialists and not one has said ADHD. They said they cant detect it until hes 6. They put him on meds called guanfacine a mild dose to take the edge off. He is very inattenetive and the impulsiveness is sometimes unbareable where he has meltdowns.

  9. Michele
    September 19, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    My son, too, has ADHD and autism. Once we were able to start treating his ADHD, we were amazed at how his autism symptoms lessened! He is much more vocal and patient now! Thanks for bringing the double dx to light!

  10. michelle michelson
    September 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I totally agee. It is making kindergarten impossible!! My son is also epileptic and his neurologist said on our next appointment he is going to prescibe something for him cause my son does not sleep. This makes the adhd symptoms ten times worse! He has never in his five years of his life slept well. It has taken over lives at home and school. Any suggestions for a mild medication?

    • Tracie
      September 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      Over the counter Meletonin. It is a natural ingredient your body naturally produces to help you fall asleep. However, sometimes we do not produce enough of it. I used a half a pill for my son until he was put on his anxiety medicine, which helps him fall asleep now.

    • September 19, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      my son takes melatonin which is an over the counter natural sleep aid…it has worked wonders for him and as far as what meds…its all different you have to see what meds he will respond to..my advice would be to listen to what the doctors say but also research all the meds before you make a decision……good luck

  11. michelle michelson
    September 19, 2011 at 3:10 pm


  12. Josie
    September 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    My 9 yr old was diagnosed PDD-NOS with ADHD at age 5. We tried for a LONG time to go without medication. Luckily, he had great teachers who were willing to keep notes. Once we figured out that medication was a must for him, his life changed. He loves the fact that HE has control. He still has the “noise” in his head, but it’s much quieter. He can focus on work at school, without having an uncontrollable urge to suddenly pull his pants down and scream at the top of his lungs. (That little episode is what told us a new medication wasn’t going to work! Lol)
    Hooray for science!!!

  13. September 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    My little guy is almost 10, and is ADHD and Aspergers. We do the gf/cf diet and he takes Straterra. But I do see that as he gets older and pre-puberty is coming, more behaviors are becoming present. It has taken me 2 years of hoop jumping, but finally we are getting some help.

    • September 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      Often people with Aspergers have different reactions to meds than others (may be same for all autistics I’m new to this) My daughter was prescribed Straterra for anxiety along with medidate for ADHD and at first it seemed to help. Later as her anxiety began to climb we had no idea that the Straterra may be to blame until we saw an aspergers specialist. Watch him for a rise in anxiety and be sure you have a specialist who knows the different ways people with Aspergers may react.

  14. September 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    My son has a triple diagnosis: ADHD, Asperger’s, and Sensory Modulation Dysfunction. But the ADHD was actually diagnosed first.

  15. Linda Durham
    September 19, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Do any of you follow the DAN! protocol with your ASD kids? We tried the ADHD medications with horrible results when my son was orginially diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 3. We tried everything! Granted it has been 3 years now, but every medication made his symptoms 10 times worse! We were told it was because he had an ASD not ADHD. He has never been given a double diagnosis, but he had the typical lack of focus and hyperactivity. Once we addressed his underlying medical issues (i.e. intestinal yeast infection, leaky gut syndrome, poor diet) all his behaviors improved. They didn’t magically go away by any means. We’ve worked hard for 3 years! But, we have seen drastic results. I am just curious if any on you have done both – alternative approach with GFCF diet, supplements, chelation, etc. and ADHD meds?

  16. September 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Our son has aspergers, ADHD, ODD and a sensory issue. It took us years to figure this out, but we did. it is a bad thing. very hard to live with to work with , everything. we love our son and hard tried everything. We just take it day by day because we love him.

  17. September 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    my son is also a double Dx and it does make life very difficult at times…….he is very turbulent right now because he just started middle school and also is hitting puberty…i dont believe that dr have not made the connection before now it has taken up until last year and a new doctor to get him diagnosed correctly and we are finally seeing a great amount of change from new meds and the correct treatment plan

  18. Judy
    September 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I have a 17 year old who was diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 14. He was diagnosed with ADHD in 4th grade, but has had an anxiety disorder since he was born. I hear you about never sleeping, he has a tough time sleeping. We have tried to keep his anxiety under control and it is not recommended he take anything for ADHD because it makes his anxiety worse. We had tried a few meds previously, but none helped. I am glad some of your children have found relief from treatments.

  19. Sarah
    September 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    It is unreal how much our son’s doctors have been resisting this (despite the school’s observations, despite everything).

    I’m convinced that the bean counters are putting some serious pressure on the doctors to keep any co-morbid medical conditions under-wraps (and attribute everything to “autism”).

  20. Angi
    September 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    My son has both Asperger’s and ADHD as well as sever social phobia and a few other little side issues

  21. October 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    My daughter was diagnosed with PDD-NOS with anxiety, agression, and OCD a couple years back. After moving to a different state, we got her in to see a new doc who decided to retest her. She then got her diagnosis changed to just Moderate Autism. So yesterday we saw her new psychiatrist (her old one was horrible and I had to wait six months for this new one) Her new psychiatrist evaluated my daughter and is now saying my daughter has ADHD. My husband and I always suspected the ADHD but everyone told us it was part of her ASD. I am so happy to have the ADHD added!!!! My daughter has been taking Prozac and Respiridone since January and they are our miracle drugs. We are not changing any of her medications with the new diagnosis since she is able to function thou.

  1. September 19, 2011 at 12:20 pm
  2. October 4, 2011 at 4:35 am

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