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AUTISM VS ADHD (Attention deficits and Hyperactivity)

In my experience as a Child and Adolescent Neuro-Psychiatrist, Child Counsellor, Family therapist and a Parent Guidance specialist and having worked with scores of children of different age groups suffering with Autism and ADHD across the world. I would like to help parents clarify doubts and concerns in relation to both the above disorders and share my experiences on a regular basis via our very useful website. Extensive work is being done at Rainbow Childrens Hospitals Hyderabad in Assessing, diagnosing and treating the above conditions in line with the latest advances in treatment and management of the above. Lot of parents get confused to find if their child has ADHD or Autism, especially with the rates at which the prevalence of both the above are increasing in the society for many reasons that are not very clear. It should be remembered that ‘all ADHD kids are not Autistic but many Autistic children have hyperactivity and Inattention’. Many Pediatricians get confused in clearly diagnosing the above two. This is mainly due to the fact that a definite diagnosis of these two conditions need a patient and longitudinal assessment and observation of the child by a Pediatric Psychiatrist with feedback from different people involved in the care of the child. General Pediatricians face a genuine problem especially when the child is very hyperactive. ‘Time is gold’ with both the conditions, especially so with Autism. An immediate clarification from a Pediatric Psychiatrist is highly essential. All speech delays should be explained and a ‘wait and watch policy’ is not a scientific/ evidence based approach and will risk the child of loosing very valuable time of cognitive brain development. Any speech delay should be explained either in terms of Delayed milestones, Autism, Deafness or any other physical or organic abnormalities. AutisAutism: Some simple advice for parents is to look out atleast for the following signs to suspect Autism in your child: Is the child responding or getting attracted more by triggers or stimuli that come from objects that have no life rather than people around him/her? Is the child trying to look away from humans i.e. avoiding eye contact. They tend to ‘look between people rather than at people’/ ‘more downward/upward gaze’ that is fleeting or purposeless. Parents should get an instinct and an emotional attachment towards their children i.e. is the child responding to your love/emotional cues? Is their speech appropriate or situations specific rather than the child having only purposeless speech that is monosyllabic or non goal directed. Observing your child when he is with other children i.e. the way he interacts or responds is very critical to identify Autism. Even though the child is part of a group he will not have a systematic or organized play and hence other kids do not show much interest to be with the child. Using an object or playing with toys: Does your child use or play with a toy or any other object the way it should be used or played with? Purposeless activity or extreme restlessness and agitation/ wandering. Repeated abnormal movements like hand flapping, finger play, whirling, pacing, tip-toe walking etc are important diagnostic indicators. No two children with autism will share identical symptoms; autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that symptoms vary widely among individuals who are affected by it. Because of the complexity of the disorder, and the fact that it is diagnosed based on observation of behavior and not on a medical test, isolating risk factors and causes is tricky and needs a professional help sooner than later. Please remember that Autism can be taken very close to Cure if dealt and managed early i.e. early Intervention is better than Latter Intervention. 



Rainbow Children's Hospital, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad