ADHD vs. Autism | Reader's Digest

ADHD vs. Autism

Information for parents on symptoms that can differentiate autism from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

By Reader's Digest Editors

Although they share many of the same symptoms, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism are very different disorders.

ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that makes it difficult for sufferers to focus, stay organized, and listen to direction. It’s estimated that ADHD affects 3 to 5 percent of kids in the United States. In contrast, autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a person communicates and interacts with others. Estimates say three to six in every 1,000 kids in the United States has autism.

How can you tell the difference between autism and ADHD?

Both disorders may affect sufferers’ social interactions, their ability to follow directions, and to stay focused. But neither autism nor ADHD has one symptom that makes making a diagnosis easy. Both disorders display a combination of symptoms, and thus a professional evaluation is necessary to clarify whether someone suffers from autism or ADHD.

In order to assess a patient’s symptoms, a health-care professional will probably conduct a series of evaluations, tests, and interviews. Interviews usually involve the patient, and certainly take into account observations by his or her caregivers and teachers. These interviews help the health-care professional to get a clear understanding of how symptoms are affecting the patient’s daily life.

Early detection of ADHD and autism will help a child receive the right diagnosis and treatment.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, OrganizedWisdom.com, Easter Seals

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