Children by definition are less inhibited than adults. Being unable to regulate their emotions and behaviors, kids are usually very energetic and not afraid to show their feelings, as anyone that has seen a temper tantrum should know.
However, there is a thin line between normal behavior and disorders. Some children are so hyperactive and distracted that it becomes difficult to engage in daily activities. When this happens, your child may already have a developmental disorder.
Developmental disorders, if left untreated, can hamper the healthy development of mental and social skills, so it is essential to recognize them quickly and to administer treatment. The two most common developmental disorders are attention-deficit/hyperactivity syndrome, known as ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder, which is simply called autism.
These two disorders can share many common symptoms, such as restlessness, hyperactivity, loss of emotional control, and difficulty with social interactions. In fact, these two classes of disorders can come together, as half of those with autism also have ADHD. However, it is necessary to understand both disorders, with an emphasis on knowing how the two differ so that mental health professionals can give the appropriate treatment.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism spectrum disorders are called as such due to the wide range of symptoms that people with autism can exhibit. However, the two hallmarks of autism spectrum disorders are repetitive behaviors and problems with communication.
Children with autism may display a fixation with a specific concept, item or activity, to the point where they may violently react when they are denied access to this fixation. They may also make excessive movements, from flapping hands to frequent bouts of fidgeting.
People with autism can have trouble expressing their thoughts and feelings properly to others. They may also be unable to read social cues, complicating communication correctly. Due to these traits, autism can make it hard for people to make friends, further delaying their social development.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Unlike autism, ADHD focuses more on hyperactivity and the inability to maintain attention. People with ADHD may be very impatient and disruptive, as they may interrupt people during conversations and other activities.
They may also be very impulsive, sometimes taking unnecessary risks without any foresight. The lack of attention makes it difficult for people with ADHD to concentrate on a single task or to carry out complicated directions. Finally, ADHD interferes with organization skills and prioritization, making it hard for people to execute projects or other complex activities.
Similarities And Differences
Both ADHD and autism share many symptoms. For example, both involve problems with social relationships, and people who suffer from these two types of disorders usually find it hard to make and keep friends. Both types of people also tend to suffer academically, as the usual school curriculum requires both attention and communication skills. They can both seem distracted, unmotivated, and unstable, especially in the eyes of other people less familiar with these conditions.
However, the two conditions also have differences. The main effects of ADHD manifest as lack of focus and attention, while those of autism manifest as repetition and communication problems.
When it comes to paying attention, people with ADHD may have problems with focusing on anything in general. In contrast, people with autism may be able to show intense concentration on their fixations while ignoring anything else.
Due to the social isolation and poor performance caused by these two disorders, people with these conditions may become frustrated with themselves and with other people. This frustration imposes even greater stress, adding to the preexisting stress caused by the usual challenges encountered as a child grows up.
Without appropriate treatment, people who have ADHD or autism are vulnerable to developing more serious mental health disorders. Hence, it is essential to distinguish the two conditions to facilitate treatment accurately.