ADHD Delays Autism Diagnosis

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DURHAM, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Did you know children with autism who also have ADHD tend to be diagnosed with autism at a much later age? Now, researchers at Duke University want to know why, and how to provide better treatment for better outcomes.

Like most 7-year-old boys, Darren Meeks loves to play with his monster trucks and ride his scooter. But Darren knows he’s different.

Meeks told Ivanhoe, “I’m autistic so I’m more sensitive.”

Darren was diagnosed with autism at age four.

Myranda Meeks, Darren’s Mother said, “He was diagnosed with ADHD a year later.”

“Forty to 60 percent of children with autism also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD,” explained Geraldine Dawson, PhD, Director, Center for Autism & Brain Development, Duke University. (Read Full Interview)

Dawson says we don’t know why the conditions tend to overlap, but she says children with both may get a delayed autism diagnosis.

Dawson continued, “In fact, those children are 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism after age six.”

So researchers at Duke University are conducting a study that focuses on early detection.

“We’re going to be following 9,000 children from the community,” stated Dawson.

Researchers will measure the brain’s response to information to help them better understand the link.

Dawson explained, “We want to see whether treating the ADHD symptoms will allow the child with autism to better benefit from early intervention.”

Myranda admits life has changed after the dual diagnosis. But Darren is thriving in school, and has lots of friends.

“But our brains just work differently,” Darren said.

The five year study funded by the National Institutes of Health will also evaluate a treatment that combines behavioral intervention with medication for ADHD. The study will be starting in January. For more information please visit autismcenter.duke.edu or call 1-888-691-1062.

Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS

RESEARCH SUMMARY

TOPIC:            ADHD DELAYS AUTISM DIAGNOSIS

REPORT:       MB #4352

ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER: ADHD is a brain-based genetic syndrome that has to do with the regulation of a particular set of brain functions and their related behaviors. These are collectively referred to as the executive functioning skills, and include things like attention, concentration, memory, social skills, organization, etc. Approximately five percent of adults have ADHD, over 11 million people in the U.S. ADHD usually persists throughout a person’s lifespan; there is no cure, and the majority of people diagnosed do not outgrow it. Not every case is the same; there are different subtypes of ADHD such as inattentive, hyperactive, and combined type. The definition outlined by the American Psychological Association is lifelong, persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development across time and settings.

(Source: https://add.org/adhd-facts/)

AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER: Autism refers to a range of conditions which can be characterized with repetitive behaviors, social skills, speech and nonverbal forms of communication, as well as unique strengths and differences. There are many types, caused by different combinations of environmental influences and genetics. The most obvious signs tend to appear between ages two and three years; in some cases it may be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Parents with concerns should seek evaluation immediately, as early intervention can improve outcomes. Possible signs of autism in babies and toddlers will vary by age, but signs at any age that may be noticeable can include but are not limited to: avoiding eye contact and preferring to be alone, remaining nonverbal or having delayed language development, repeating  words or phrases over and over, and/or has highly restricted interests.

(Sources: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/from-first-concern-to-action/learn-signs)

NEW INFORMATION: It is unknown why autism and ADHD may overlap, but children with both may get a delayed autism diagnosis. Researchers at Duke University are conducting a study that focuses on early detection, measuring the brain’s response to information to help them better understand the link. The five year study funded by the National Institutes of Health will also evaluate a treatment that combines behavioral intervention with medication for ADHD. The study will be starting in January. For more information please visit www.autismcenter.duke.edu  or call 1-888-691-1062.

(Source: Geraldine Dawson, PhD)

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, PLEASE CONTACT:

Samiha Khanna

Samiha.khanna@duke.edu

Geraldine Dawson

Geraldine.dawson@duke.edu

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com

 

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Geraldine Dawson, PhD

Read the entire Q&A