Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and Asperger’s syndrome are both mental health disorders that become apparent in childhood and can remain with a person throughout his adult life. The rates at which both ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome are diagnosed have increased and incorrect diagnosis may be a problem for either disorder, notes the Asperger’s Association of New England, or AANE.
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ADHD and Asperger’s disorder display some similar traits and characteristics. These similarities make it hard, at times, for mental health professionals and physicians to differentiate between the two and make the correct diagnosis. Therefore, some children are incorrectly diagnosed early on with either disorder and their diagnosis is later changed to the appropriate disorder once the symptoms become more apparent.
The AANE reports that as of 2010, ADHD affects 6 to 7 percent of children, which is 60 to 80 times the prevalence rate for Asperger’s syndrome. Some of these children diagnosed with ADHD early on may end up with an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis later on in their life, notes the AANE.
Symptoms of ADHD
Symptoms of ADHD involve inattention, hyperactivity-impulsiveness or a combination of these behaviors. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, or NIMH, the symptoms of ADHD include being easily distracted, problems concentrating, losing things, not listening, inability to remain focused on one task, lack of ability to organize, inability to follow instructions, excessive talking, inability to remain still, squirming, being constantly in motion, irrupting others, lack of patience and inappropriate emotional expression.
Symptoms of Asperger’s
The symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome include behaving in socially awkward ways; unusual speech patterns they may be formal, high pitched, loud or lacking in rhythm; lack of ability to understand humor, irony or metaphors; excessive interest in certain objects; well-developed rote memories; problems with abstract concepts; inability to show empathy; limited social skills; and average or above average intelligence levels, notes the Autism Society of America.
Unlike autism, which Asperger’s syndrome is generally compared to, people with Asperger’s syndrome desire to engage and interact with others, but lack the appropriate skills to do so in socially acceptable ways.
The AANE points out that although children generally have either ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome, some children actually have the diagnostic criteria for both disorders; therefore, these people are diagnosed with co-morbid, or both, ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome.
Early diagnosis and treatment for both ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome is extremely important. Both are considered chronic disorders and the earlier treatment is begun the better the prognosis is for the person. Therefore, parents, teachers and others working closely with the child should be aware of the possible symptoms of each disorder. Suspected problems should be brought to the attention of the child’s physician or a mental health professional. Then, the child should receive a full diagnostic evaluation.