Difference Between ADHD and Autism

By: | Updated: Feb-19, 2022
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Despite often being seen as similar, ADHD and autism are two different conditions. Do you know the key differences? Read this article to learn more about the key differences between ADHD and autism.

ADHD Autisms
Characterized by problems with focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Characterized by difficulties with communication and social interaction.
First diagnosed in childhood. Can be first diagnosed in adulthood.
Is more common than autism. Is less common.
Is less expensive to treat. Is more expensive to treat.
More likely to have other mental disorders. More likely to have other developmental disorders.
Treatment includes medications and behavioral therapy. Treatment includes behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.

Difference Between ADHD and Autism

There is a difference between ADHD and autism. ADHD is a mental disorder that is characterized by problems with focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties with communication and social interaction.

As a mental disorder, ADHD is caused by problems with the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Autism is a developmental disorder that is caused by differences in the brain structure and function.

ADHD is first diagnosed in childhood. Autism is first diagnosed in early childhood, but can also be diagnosed in adults.

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Both disorders can cause problems in school and social interactions, but the symptoms are different.

People with ADHD are often restless and can be easily distracted. People with autism may have trouble understanding social cues and may not want to be around people.

People with ADHD may have problems with organization and time management. People with autism may have problems with speech and communication. 

There is no single test that can diagnose either disorder, but doctors will typically use a variety of tests and assessments to make a diagnosis.

ADHD is more common than autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 6.4 million children in the United States have ADHD, while around 1 in 68 children have autism.

Autism is more expensive to treat than ADHD. The average annual cost of treating autism can be around $60,000, while the average annual cost of treating ADHD can be around $17,000.

People with autism may also require more expensive services, like residential care. Residential care for people with autism can cost up to $200,000 per year.

People with ADHD are more likely to have other mental disorders. People with autism are more likely to have other developmental disorders, like intellectual disability and epilepsy.

Hospitals and mental health clinics can provide treatment for ADHD and autism. There are many different types of treatments available for both disorders, and the best treatment for each person will vary.

Treatment for ADHD often includes medications and behavioral therapy. Treatment for autism often includes behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.

Occupational therapy can help people with autism learn how to complete everyday tasks, while speech therapy can help them improve their communication skills.

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