Are People with Autism Likely to have ADD/ADHD?

Are People with Autism Likely to have ADD/ADHD?

Is your child struggling with attentiveness, impulsivity, narrow interests, social awkwardness, restlessness, or communication issues? These are some of the symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but these same symptoms can also be signs of ADD/ADHD. Because of the overlap, it is not uncommon for ASD to be misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD and vice versa.

Having Both ASD and ADHD

In some cases, people with autism can also have ADD/ADHD. Emerging research shows this is more common than you might think. According to a growing body of evidence, approximately 30-50% of people with ASD also show signs of ADD/ADHD. Similarly, about two-thirds of people with ADD/ADHD also exhibit symptoms of being on the spectrum.

For many years, the American Psychological Association had rejected the notion that the two conditions could co-occur, but it reversed that position when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) was released in 2013. Since then, scientists have begun a deeper exploration into the link between ASD and ADD/ADHD.

The findings show that having both of these conditions leads to a lower quality of life and poorer adaptive functioning than having just one of them.[ This translates to greater learning problems, more severe social impairment, and a tougher time with everyday life skills. This is why it’s critical to get a treatment that targets both conditions.

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

Getting the proper treatment for both ASD and ADD/ADHD requires an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, psychiatrists rarely look at the brain and rely solely on symptom clusters to make a diagnosis. Brain imaging studies show that ASD and ADD/ADHD are not single or simple disorders. There are 8-10 factors that can impact abnormal brain function in ASD and 7 types of ADD/ADHD:

Type 1: Classic ADD/ADHD

Type 2: Inattentive ADD/ADHD

Type 3: Overfocused ADD/ADHD

Type 4: Temporal Lobe ADD/ADHD

Type 5: Limbic ADD/ADHD

Type 6: Ring of Fire ADD/ADHD

Type 7: Anxious ADD/ADHD

Without looking at the brain to identify the patterns associated with the various types of these conditions, children and adults may get the wrong treatment. For people with ASD who are misdiagnosed, a delay in therapy can have negative consequences that last a lifetime.

With an accurate diagnosis, both ASD and the subtype of ADHD can be treated more effectively. And when both conditions are addressed properly, it not only improves an individual’s quality of life, but it also enhances the day-to-day life for the whole family.

If your child (or yourself) is suffering from symptoms associated with both autism and ADHD, a complete evaluation that includes brain SPECT imaging can help you get an accurate diagnosis. The sooner you start with personalized solutions that are targeted to your loved one’s needs, the faster you can minimize symptoms. At Amen Clinics, we have helped many children and adults with both ASD and ADD/ADHD improve their social skills, behavior, and performance at school or work.

For more information or to speak with a specialist, call 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.

[Vora P., Sikora D. (2011). Society for Developmental and Behavioral. San Antonio, TX: Pediatrics


  1. Helping with the symptoms is good as long as you aren’t trying to alter their personality. I LOVE my autistic teenage son, he gives me great joy every day and I wouldn’t change his unique GOD GIVEN personality for ANYTHING, however that being said, I would like to be able to help him with his speech as in he stutters A LOT, and that’s disheartening to see him struggle with that area of his autism so that I would agree to the help of.

    Comment by Jennifer Anderson — October 23, 2019 @ 2:30 AM

  2. I do believe there is a very close relationship between ASD and ADHD based on my family experiences and observations.
    WARNING: dealing with these complex issues ONLY gets worse with age & adulthood.

    Comment by Linda D. Garland — October 23, 2019 @ 3:44 AM

  3. I am Autistic and I am not Suffering at all from being Autistic. I’m simply myself, and have never and don’t know any other way to be. We don’t Suffer from being Autistic, I love being my Autistic self, we suffer from bigotry of so called experts who define our lives as though we are suffering without ever actually asking us, Autistic Adults and self advocates how we actually feel. We are the only experts when it comes to being Autistic. I urge you to go look up Ask an Autistic on YouTube and Facebook to understand what it means to be Autistic from a self advocate. However that being said, the co-occurring conditions that come with being Autistic are what need sometimes to be addressed. Also, Autism doesn’t come with symptoms but traits and also impairments. Only the co-occurring conditions like Epilepsy and OCD have symptoms. Autism is a Pervasive Neurodevelopmental disability and Nuero type. Everyone has a 50/50 chance of developing it in utero. Also, we have always been here since the beginning of time we are simply a variation of humanity.

    Comment by Randy Delaney — October 23, 2019 @ 6:21 AM

  4. I have a young man that on three meds and still having issues. He and his mom would like him to come of the drugs to a more natural solution 1/2 Saphris it’s a sublingual he was taking 5 in the morning and 10mg at bedtime and it was too much so she gave it to him five at 7 in the morning and 5mg He’s also on Klonodine and another drug I’m not sure of. He’s 16 with an Autism diagnosis,I’m an advocate for him

    Comment by Denise Eugene — November 2, 2019 @ 9:27 AM

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