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ADHD, autism or both?

Published: 22 Nov 2018 | ADHD & Me

Reaching a diagnostic decision is seldom straightforward and particularly not when a child or adult presents with symptoms that greatly overlap, like they do with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

In these cases, it is not uncommon that a clinician decides that only one of the conditions explains the symptoms, yet with the release of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) in 2013, reaching a dual diagnosis is possible.

Dr Georgie Siggers, Consultant Neurodevelopment Paediatrician, highlights how the complex interplay between the disorders can cause confusion in identifying ADHD. Clinical and genetic studies additionally suggest that ADHD and ASD not only often co-occur but also share genetic susceptibility and data from the 2014 National Survey of the Diagnosis and Treatment of ADHD and Tourette Syndrome (n = 2,464) showed that approximately one in eight children currently diagnosed with ADHD was also diagnosed with ASD [1].

Importantly, the findings also showed that children diagnosed with both conditions had greater treatment needs and more co-occurring conditions, which further supports the stringent need of a comprehensive assessment. Objective data from QbCheck and QbTest is proven to help identify ADHD alone and to differentiate ADHD from other conditions, including ASD [2] [3].


[1] Zablotsky, B., Bramlett, M. D. & Blumberg, S. J. (2017). The Co-Occurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children With ADHD.  Journal of Attention Disorders. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1177/1087054717713638[RETURN]

[2] Hult, N., Kadesjö, J., Kadesjö, B., Gillberg, C., & Billstedt, E. (2015). ADHD and the QbTest: Diagnostic Validity of QbTest. Journal of Attention Disorders, 1-7. [RETURN]

[3] Groom, M., Young, Z., Hall, C., Hollis, C., & Gillott, A. (2016). The incremental validity of a computerised assessment added to clinical rating scales to differentiate adult ADHD from autism spectrum disorder. Psychiatry Research, 243, 168-173. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2016.06.042 [RETURN]