People who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may also be diagnosed with other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, epilepsy, Sensory Processing Disorder (also known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction) and other learning disorders or disabilities. Individuals with ASD should access services that address their autism and seek other services that will adequately support their needs as they relate to their other condition. Aspect provides some services that are beneficial to individuals with other disabilities.
Many children with autism spectrum disorder also exhibit behaviours associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD). These may include impulsive and hyperactive behaviour and acute inattention.
It is possible for children with ASD to have both conditions, however in most children the behaviours associated with ADHD diminish as the child grows older and the types of behaviour consistent with the child’s autism emerge.
Although both conditions appear to share difficulties with communication and social skills, the reasons for this are different. People with autism have an innate or natural problem interacting with others, while for children with ADHD the problems may be due to low self-esteem and an inability to settle or calm down.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, volume 5, (DSM5) is very specific in relation to a diagnosis of ADHD. The condition must be apparent in a child under the age of seven and the behaviour needs to be developmentally irregular for a period of no less than six months.
Your health professional should not make a diagnosis of ADHD if the condition is detected as part of a developmental disorder like autism.It is therefore important to address the conditions relating to a child’s autism first so the two diagnoses are not confused.
Autism spectrum disorders and dyslexia are both linked to the way the brain processes information. For this reason it is not unusual for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to also have a diagnosis of dyslexia.
People with dyslexia have difficulties with reading, writing and spelling as well as interpreting maps, graphs, sequences and patterns.
For people with ASD, the additional frustration of not being able to read or write can lead to feelings of even greater isolation and frustration. They may even become angry and un-cooperative.
People with dyslexia and ASD should seek appropriate treatment for both conditions.
A small proportion of children with Down Syndrome will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As is often the case with ASDs, the type and severity of the symptoms will vary from child to child.
Parents will often notice changes in their child’s behaviour some years after they are diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Their child may exhibit patterns of isolation like an unwillingness to enjoy the company of other children; sensory over sensitivity to things like the taste of certain foods and under sensitivity apparent in impaired hearing or vision for example. They may also exhibit an extreme or unusual reaction to lights, certain sounds and the things they touch or feel.
There have been difficulties associated with a dual diagnosis of ASD and Down Syndrome because the symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder have often been disguised by, or mistaken for, a child’s intellectual disability. Additionally, many of the characteristics recognised in children with ASD are also typical of children with Down Syndrome and other behavioural disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Aspect offers comprehensive assessments for children and adults to determine whether or not the individual meets the criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Fragile X Syndrome
While Fragile X Syndrome and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are two separate diagnoses both disabilities have characteristics in common. People with autism may have a dual diagnosis of Fragile X and vice versa.
Fragile X is a genetic condition that causes a variety of learning, social and attention difficulties. Like autism, people with Fragile X Syndrome have difficulty interpreting non-verbal forms of communication like eye contact; use repetitive speech or have underdeveloped or unintelligible speech (particularly in males), and difficulties with sensory sensitivity.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition caused by a disturbance in the brain’s chemistry. People with epilepsy experience seizures or periods of loss of consciousness. Seizures generally occur in the first three years of a child’s life but they can also experience them for the first time during puberty.
While it is understood that people with ASD experience epileptic activity, the number of people affected and the frequency of incidence is still relatively unknown. Seizures affecting people with ASD can often go unnoticed because they are confused or masked by communication difficulties.
Sensory Processing Disorder
For info on Sensory Processing Disorder please click here