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I have a much younger 15 year old sister who was just recently, diagnosed with a type of Asperger’s disorder. Though she is exceptionally bright and passes most of her tests with 100%, she has almost always had a lot of trouble at school - completing assignments and staying organized. She has also unfortunately almost always had trouble with her peers teasing her, and unusual complaints about sounds that don’t’ bother most people. Before that she had been diagnosed with ADHD – which I now believe was a misdiagnosis of the symptoms she was experiencing so many years ago and also the reason it took so long to find out what her real condition was. How common is it for the two conditions to be confused and what are the differences between them? I also suffer from some of the same symptoms as my sister and was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. Is there a genetic to component to Asperger’s? Should I be concerned for my daughter?

Smartliving Guest asked this
June 9, 2011 at 2:53 PM



It is easy for a person with high functioning Asperger’s syndrome to be misdiagnosed as having ADHD, or even never having any formal diagnosis at all.

Asperger Ayndrome (AS) is considered a subset of Pervasive Development Disorder (PPD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with AS typically have impairments in:

• Social interactions o They typically have problems showing empathy. o They typically have problems developing friendships. o They typically don’t seek shared enjoyments. o They typically have problems with social and emotional “reciprocity” (do not have “give and take” relationships or conversations. Might tend to have extended on sided conversations, explaining something to someone and not realizing the other person does not care about it.) o Nonverbal behaviors such as facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and postures. o People with AS differ from people with Autism because they usually do not withdraw from others, and they often approach others. • Restricted and repetitive interests and behaviors o They tend to focus intense interest in a narrow rage of interests (when compared to other people their age.) o My move in repetitive ways. o Stick to strict routines. • Speech and Language – although people with AS typically do not have a delay in speech they have specific peculiarities in speech. o They tend to be verbose (are long winded and use a lot of big words.) o They tend to have abrupt transitions. o They tend to have abnormalities in pitch, intonation, rhythm and loudness.

Where as people with ADHD have problems with inattention, hyperactivity-impulsiveness or both. These symptoms may include:

Inattentive symptoms:

• Being easily distracted, missing details, forgeting things and frequently switching from one activity to another. • Having difficulty maintaining focus on one task. • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable. • Having difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new or trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities. • Seems not to listen when spoken to. • Daydreams, become easily confused and moves slowly. • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others. • Struggle to follow instructions.

Hyperactive-impulsive symptoms:

• Fidgeting and squirm in their seats. • Talking nonstop. • Dashing around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight. • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time. • Being constantly in motion. • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.

If you are worried about getting an accurate diagnosis, I would seek a clinical psychologist who has experience with both Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD. Although Asperger’s syndrome does tend to run in families, there is not one single gene that causes it. As always, if you are noticing that your child’s behavior is significantly different than other children the same age, then you should have your child evaluated by a medical expert.

Stay Healthy, Dr. Jeff M.D.

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Health Coach answered
June 9, 2011 at 3:06 PM
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