Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Difference Between ADHD and Aspergers

Here is a great informative article about the difference between ADHD and Aspergers

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The differences between Aspergers and ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD) are subtle yet distinct. Knowing how to differentiate between the two is important for moms and dads and therapists.

ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER and Aspergers have many similarities on the surface. Both can involve inattentiveness and problem behaviors. In fact, kids with Aspergers are often diagnosed with ADHD prior to an Aspergers diagnosis. However, the two disorders are not the same. It is important for therapists to be able to make a thorough differential diagnosis between ADHD and Aspergers. It is also important for moms and dads to be able to tell the difference in their own kids who have both diagnoses.


By definition, Aspergers does not include any significant delay in language (as opposed to autism). However, people with Aspergers do tend to have distinct differences in how they use language and tend to have language weaknesses that are not typically found in kids with average intelligence who have ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER alone.

People with Aspergers tend to have weaknesses in their understanding of non-literal language, such as slang or implied meanings. They also tend to be more verbose and to have more one-sided conversations that are driven by their own topics of interest. They have a harder time taking turns in conversations or talking about a topic of interest to someone else. People with Aspergers also sometimes display less inflection in their voice.

In contrast, people with ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER may have interests that they love to talk about and they may love to talk, but their conversations are more reciprocal. They can take conversational turns and they can switch topics to accommodate others' interests more easily. People with ADHD also do not tend to have specific weaknesses in their understanding of and use of non-literal language and speak with normal tone of voice and inflection.

Socialization Differences—

People with Aspergers tend to have difficulty interpreting non-verbal communication and the more subtle nuances of social situations. For example, they may not easily distinguish between behaviors that may be appropriate in one setting and not in another or they may have difficulty interpreting facial expressions or posturing of others. In contrast, people with ADHD may be distracted and not pay as much attention to those things, but they do understand and interpret them appropriately.

While people with ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER may be more impulsive and less observant of others' needs, resulting in more misbehaviors, they can easily consider others' perspectives and they easily participate in more reciprocal, or two-sided, social interactions. In contrast, people with Aspergers tend to be more eccentric and one-sided in their approach to others. It is not that they are indifferent to others but that they really have a harder time considering the perspective of others.

Language and social difficulties for kids with Aspergers tend to result in avoidance of many social situations. They have a lot of problems and often do not understand why. Many social situations become way too stressful, especially with peers, and they may prefer adults. Specifically, teaching social skills to kids with Aspergetrs is often necessary. Kids with ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER may have peer conflicts because of behavioral difficulties; however, they are more socially driven.

Sensory Differences—

All individuals tend to have preferred topics of interests or activities. However, for people with Aspergers, those things can often be all encompassing and get in the way of more functional routines. Their preferred topics or activities also tend to have a sensory seeking quality to them (often visual or tactile) and include repetition. They may also be overly sensitive to things like sound and they may tend to get easily overloaded with sensory input.

Kids with ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER often respond better to experiences that are highly stimulating. That is why they can sit for hours playing a video game, while attending to schoolwork may be very difficult. However, they tend to process sensory input in a typical manner. People with ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER do not necessarily seek out sensory experiences in a repetitive or eccentric manner.

Aspergers versus ADHD—

Aspergers includes many social, communication, and sensory difficulties that are distinct from ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER. While the two disorders can result in behavioral and social difficulties, it is important for parents and essential for therapists to look beneath the surface and distinguish between them. Evaluations that appropriately differentiate between Aspergers and ADHD can lead to the most appropriate interventions for kids.

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