16 Nov 2023

The overlap between ASD and ADHD difficulties

Autism and ADHD are neurodevelopmental conditions, which are present from birth. People with Autism and ADHD develop differently from neurotypical people, which can impact their …

Autism and ADHD are neurodevelopmental conditions, which are present from birth. People with Autism and ADHD develop differently from neurotypical people, which can impact their experience in education, as well as being able to find and keep a job.

While ASD and ADHD have distinct differences, the signs and symptoms can easily overlap. Hyperfocus, having intense interests and difficulties with multitasking are just a few things that both conditions have in common with one another.

At The Autism Service, we offer a combined assessment for children and adults, which considers both conditions at the same time. Once you or your child have been assessed for both neurodevelopmental conditions, the result may be a diagnosis of both Autism and ADHD, either condition or none of them.

Our article looks at the overlap in difficulties between ASD and ADHD.

Can you be diagnosed with both ASD and ADHD?

Yes, it’s not unusual for you or your child to be diagnosed with both ASD and ADHD at the same time.

According to Autistica, around three in 10 autistic adults also have ADHD in the UK. And 28% of autistic children are also diagnosed with ADHD. For example, if you’ve previously received a diagnosis of autism, you are more likely to also have ADHD and vice versa.

However, it’s possible that ASD and ADHD can exist independently of each other. It’s essential that you receive a thorough assessment from a qualified healthcare professional so that they can underpin the difficulties that you have with either condition.

How they’re presented 

Both autism and ADHD have similarities between them, but the causes of these conditions are different.

The presentation for an autistic person may involve:

  • Not understanding verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Speech and language delays
  • Difficulties developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships with other people.

Someone who has ADHD may display common traits, such as:

  • Being easily distracted or unable to concentrate on a task.
  • Impulsive (may include interrupting conversations or have little or no sense of danger)
  • Show signs of hyperactivity, which includes not being able to sit still on a chair or intrude on other people’s conversations and activities.

Hyperfocus on special interests

One of the most common overlaps between ASD and ADHD is the ability to ‘hyperfocus’ on hobbies and interests they enjoy.

Hobbies that a person with ADHD are passionate about can look a lot like ASD special interests. An individual with ASD will have an intense fascination with that hobby they’re interested in. Outside of their special interest, they may struggle with doing daily tasks, such as washing the dishes or cleaning.

Someone with ADHD will hyperfocus on a special interest that they’re passionate about. Not being able to focus on their passion can make it difficult for them to manage their symptoms. This can lead to them being easily distracted and forgetful.

Attending an ASD, ADHD, or a combined assessment with us? With our assessments, we’ll consider hyperfocus as a symptom, along with other symptoms. This will help you to understand what is behind you or your child’s behaviour when assessing them for ASD, ADHD or both.

Struggle with social communication and building relationships

People with ASD and ADHD can struggle with social communication, as well as building personal and professional relationships.

An autistic person might find it difficult to hold a conversation with someone and they can also be inflexible with the subjects that are being discussed. It means that you or your child may stick to discussing the same topics of interest and struggle to become involved in conversations about anything else.

Someone with ADHD, might find it difficult to pay attention throughout a conversation. They may also be impulsive when interacting with friends or family members and speak without thinking.

Book an ASD, ADHD, or combined assessment with The Autism Service

Do you or your child show symptoms of ASD, ADHD, or both? We offer individual and combined assessments to give you a clear answer for your diagnosis.

All our ASD, ADHD and combined assessments are NICE-guideline compliant, providing you or your child with a full diagnostic assessment to give you a clear answer for your diagnosis. Our clinics are located across the UK, allowing you to book an assessment at a location that’s convenient for you or your child.

Considering getting an autism, ADHD or combined assessment and wondering how we do it? You can contact one of our friendly staff members, located in our Head Office in Shrewsbury.  We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about the assessment process, as well as booking an appointment with us.

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