Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Connection Between ADHD and Autism

The connection between ADHD and autism is one many parents have suspected for years. After all, an amazing 92 percent of autistic children will receive some other diagnosis, or educational label, with the most frequent being ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). As you can see even the experts seem to be somewhat unclear as to how to separate the two conditions, especially when hyperactivity is present.

Additionally, both those with ADHD and autism tend to share similar features in three main areas: social interaction, behavior, and communication.

Before we go any further why don't we briefly scan behavioral checklists for each condition to see if the connection between ADHD and autism is reality or perhaps just wishful thinking on behalf of those trying to stake out a position.

ADHD children tend to not pay close attention to details; make careless mistakes; may not listen when spoke to directly; when hyperactivity is present seem as if they are always on the move; at an early age may not respond well to being held; interrupt, disrupt, or talk inappropriately; throw severe temper tantrums; exhibit impulsive behavior without considering the consequences; are short on patience and struggles with waiting or standing in line; cannot talk or play quietly; and last but not least may struggle with motor skills.

Autistic children tend to make careless mistakes; exhibit impulsive behavior; be extremely overactive or under-active; may not enjoy being held or cuddled; laugh or giggle at inappropriate times; throw severe temper tantrums for no apparent reason; tend to not be a good judge of what is real danger; and poor or non-existent social skills.

As you may have already concluded the connection between ADHD and autism is fuzzy at best with the exception of struggling with motor skills and impulse driven behaviors. But when you boil it down these are not insignificant similarities since most agree ADHD is a mental disorder centered around the inability to self regulate. This factors are thought to be driven by brain chemical imbalances and inconsistencies in brain development both of which have not been ruled out when it comes to autism.

The Connection Between ADHD and Autism - New Research

Besides the behavioral similarities listed above we also know that both ADHD and autism impact three times more boys than girls, have a strong genetic component, and have shown a staggering increase in diagnosed cases with each doubling over the last decade.

The information linking these two conditions in the past has been mostly subjective, depending on subjective evaluation from parents, teachers, acquaintances, and doctors. Now for the first time there seems to be hard evidence linking the two conditions.

A recent groundbreaking study collected and analyzed DNA and behavioral data from 248 children with ADHD and from 349 children with autism over a 5 year period. The result seems to have finally shed some light on this complicated, and often ignored, comparison.

The first step was to determine whether the participants actually had either ADHD or autism. Once confirmed, only then, did the study move forward.

The next step was to analyze the DNA of both groups of children searching for a type of genetic change know as copy number vibrations (CNV). Put simply it is the search for abnormal sequencing of genes (too many too few). When the DNA of the two groups was compared the findings were that both ADHD and autistic patients share a number of common CNVs.

According to senior scientist of psychiatry at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto twenty two children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder had a CNV not found in healthy children, and five of those had CNVs that also appeared in nine children with autism.
He went on to say "I would just characterize our results as a modest amount of overlap, but overlap nonetheless.".

In conclusion, the connection between ADHD and autism seems to be real but not necessarily an everyday occurrence. Nevertheless, new research building off of what we now suspect may eventually play an important role in diagnostic criteria. Until then it seems parents are left with the status quo relying on the opinion of their medical professional based on current diagnostic criteria. The end result is generally a prescription for some type of harsh medication designed to temporarily suppress symptoms.

For parents of children who are struggling with ADHD symptoms, or are mildly autistic, concerned about the side effect risks of prescription medications you should know that there are a number of natural options currently available. The most widely accepted as of this article writing seem to be behavioral therapy and/or homeopathic remedies.

Robert D. Hawkins is an enthusiastic consumer advocate for natural health and natural living with over 10 years experience in the field. To learn more about ADHD along with information about natural herbal and homeopathic ADHD remedies Click Here

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