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ADHD, autism link grows stronger

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
ADHD kids have autism traits, finds new study

Researchers have found more evidence that autsim and ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are linked.

According to the new study, kids with ADHD are 20 times more likely to have characteristics of autism than children without ADHD, such as slow language development, trouble interacting with others and lack of emotional control.

Study co-author Dr. Joseph Biederman, director of the pediatric psychopharmacology unit at Massachusetts General Hospital said in a press release that one out of five children with ADHD included in the investigation had difficulty organizing, planning and conceptualizing that is indicative of trouble with ‘executive functioning’.

Biederman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explained fewer than one-percent of children compared in the study without ADHD had any signs of autism.

One of the challenges is that ADHD medications don’t help children who also have signs of autism/

The study included 242 children with ADHD, aged 6 to 18. As a control, researchers also analyzed 227 children without attention deficit disorder. The results come from questionnaires about the children’s behavior, submitted by parents.

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The researchers looked at the results to find what would be considered autistic traits; discovering 8 percent of kids with ADHD displayed some common autistic behaviors. In comparison, just 0.87 percent of kids from the control group exhibited any behaviors linked to autism.

The finding also showed children with ADHD and autism traits were more likely to have trouble getting along with their peers, with a tendency to fight and be rejected by other kids.

The also had more learning disorders and psychiatric problems than kids with just ADHD.

"The genetic markers for ADHD have also been associated with autism," Biederman also said.

The importance of the finding is to screen children with ADHD for autistic traits …” because they may need more support, particularly in the educational and interpersonal domains." More information about children with ADHD and autism could lead to better treatments.

Kotte A, Joshi G, Fried R. Autistic Traits in Children With and Without ADHD
Pediatrics. 2013.

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