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Autism and ADHD: What’s the difference?

Is it ADHD, autism or both?

Read this article to understand better the similarities and differences between Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).


The signs mentioned below are not meant to be used for diagnosis. A person with ASD or ADHD (or both) might not present all of the symptoms. Remember, everyone is unique! Hence, how ASD or ADHD present itself will also be unique. Make sure to contact a professional should you be worry about your child (or yourself).

How is ADHD and Autism similar?

A person can have both ASD and ADHD. It is actually more common than one would think.

Nearly two-thirds of individuals with ASD suffer from ADHD1.

Here are some of the similarities between ASD and ADHD:

  • Challenges with executive functions (e.g. following multiple steps instructions)

  • Sleeping issues

  • Difficulties with social skills

  • Poor emotional regulation

  • Intense focus on subjects of interest

  • Prone to anxiety

  • Easily distracted

  • Sensory processing issues (e.g. hypersensitivity to touch)

How is ASD and ADHD different:

Although autism and ADHD have many similarities, they are not the same condition. Look below to see the differences between ASD and ADHD.



It is a developmental disorder that affects communication, behavior and social skills.

It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects concentration, attention and impulsivity.

3 core symptoms: 1. Repetitive or restricted behaviors and interests 2. Difficulties in communicating 3. Challenges in social interaction

3 core symptoms: 1. Inattention 2. Hyperactivity 3. Impulsivity

People with autism may prefer structure and routine. Changes may be upsetting.

People with ADHD may prefer changes or may become bored easily with routine.

People with autism may like things to be in order.

People with ADHD may be messy and find it hard to keep things in order. They may also struggles to keep track of time.

People with autism may have restricted interests.

People with ADHD may loses interest easily.

People with autism may find it hard to have a conversation.

People with ADHD may find it hard to stop talking or refrain from interrupting.

My child has autism and/or ADHD, what's next?

The intervention for ADHD and autism varies depending on the severity of the condition. Behavioral therapy can help with both these conditions. Contact us for more info!

Biederman. (2021). 3.2 ADHD COMORBIDITY WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER AND BURDEN OF TRAITS OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER IN ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 60(10), S125–S126.


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