It’s one thing to learn that your child has been diagnosed with Aspergers. And it’s one thing to live with Asperger’s Syndrome as an adult.
But it can come as a surprise to find out that a child or adult may deal with other challenges in addition to autism or Aspergers.
Attention Deficit Disorder is a common co-morbid condition that can accompany Aspergers.
It can be easy to miss this condition because we are so focused on the singular diagnosis of autism spectrum or Aspergers.
Attention Deficit Disorder Definition
Before you automatically assume that your child has attention deficit disorder, keep the following guidelines in mind:
a) At least six of these symptoms should be present
b) Some of these symptoms causing the impairment were present before age 7
c) Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school, (or work) and at home)
d) These symptoms must be causing clinically significant impairment in either social, academic, or occupational functioning. In other words, these symptoms are more frequent, intense, and severe than what you would encounter in the general population (in the average boy or girl, man or woman).
c) According to many mental health specialists, there ADD and a pervasive developmental disorder like autism/Aspergers cannot co-exist. However, many mental health professionals believe they can.
I don’t have time to get into that debate, but here are a good articles to read if you’d like to find out more:
Asperger Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder
Aspergers and ADD
In any case, the overlap is such that it’s important to recognize the similarities in symptoms and get help for minimizing the impact of those symptoms on one’s day to day life.
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) signs and symptoms to watch for:
This list of symptoms is taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition.
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
- Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
- Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
- Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework).
- Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
- Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
- Forgetful in daily activities.
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
- Leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected.
- Runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness).
- Has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly.
- Appears “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor.”
- Talks excessively.
- Blurts out the answers before the questions have been completed.
- Has difficulty awaiting turn.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).
Solutions For Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder
Take An ADD Online Test
Don’t be misled by the term “test.” There is no one conclusive test for diagnosing attention deficit disorder. However, the following online “quizzes” are on way to find out whether it would be a good idea to seek out a professional who is skilled in diagnosing ADD.
ADD in Children Online Test
This test comes from About.Com’s Pediatric section.
ADD in Adults Online Test
This test comes from PsychCentral, a well-respected online psychology resource.
Educate Yourself About ADD/ADHD
There are many attention deficit disorder websites out there, but I have been thoroughly impressed with ADDitude, the online add/adhd magazine. This site contains attention deficit information about ADHD symptoms, medication, treatment, diagnosis, and parenting ADD children from the experts at ADDitude magazine
Books About Attention Deficit Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults, (Yale University Press Health & Wellness), by Thomas E. Brown PhD
Here’s a book summary from Amazon:
A leading expert in assessment and treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder dispels myths and offers clearly written, science-based, practical information about treatments. Dr. Brown sets forth a bold new understanding of ADD/ADHD and offers compelling examples of the daily life challenges it presents for children, adolescents, and adults.
Here’s a book summary from Amazon:
With over a quarter million copies in print, You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! is one of the bestselling books on attention deficit disorder (ADD) ever written. There is a great deal of literature about children with ADD. But what do you do if you have ADD and aren’t a child anymore? This indispensable reference — the first of its kind written for adults with ADD by adults with ADD — focuses on the experiences of adults, offering updated information, practical how-tos and moral support to help readers deal with ADD. It also explains the diagnostic process that distinguishes ADD symptoms from normal lapses in memory, lack of concentration or impulsive behavior. Here’s what’s new:
- The new medications and their effectiveness
- The effects of ADD on human sexuality
- The differences between male and female ADD — including falling estrogen levels and its impact on cognitive function
- The power of meditation
- How to move forward with coaching
And the book still includes advice about:
- Achieving balance by analyzing one’s strengths and weaknesses
- Getting along in groups, at work and in intimate and family relationships — including how to decrease discord and chaos
- Learning the mechanics and methods for getting organized and improving memory
- Seeking professional help, including therapy and medication
Get Treatment For Attention Deficit Disorder
I would advise that you make sure you meet with a mental health professional who understands both Aspergers and ADD/ADHD, so that you can receive treatment tailored to you/your child and your/her/his diagnosis.
I’m going to steer you to the diagnosis and treatment section of ADDitude’s website for comprehensive information about attention deficit disorder treatment.
I’ll also share this article I wrote about evidence based treatments for attention deficit disorder.