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Overlap between ADHD and autism spectrum disorders in adults.

Chapter in book
Authors Christopher Gillberg
I Carina Gillberg
Henrik Anckarsäter
Maria Råstam
Published in In J.K. Buitelaar, C.C. Kan & P. Asherson (Eds.), ADHD in Adults. Characterization, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Pages 157-167
ISBN 9780521864312
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Place of publication Cambridge
Publication year 2011
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 157-167
Language en
Subject categories Child and adolescent psychiatry

Abstract

Autism was long considered to be a very rare disorder, the best defined in child psychiatry (Rutter & Schopler, 1992), and one that occurred in isolation, often with no comorbidity (except, possibly, mental retardation) and presumably with one etiology. It is now clear that autism in its classic variant is but part of a broader spectrum of disorders that include not only “autistic disorder” (as defined by DSM-IV) but also a number of conditions, including Asperger disorder and so-called pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified (PDDNOS)/atypical autism (Wing & Potter, 2002). It has also become generally accepted that these “autism spectrum disorders” (ASDs, including autistic disorder) are much more common than previously assumed, with overall childhood prevalence usually reported at just under 1% (Gillberg et al., 2006). To complicate things, genetic studies have shown that ASDs extend into “lesser variants” and “broader phenotypes” with some characteristic autism features but with little or no clinical impairment. Population studies suggest that such lesser variants or features of autism occur in several percent of children (Briskman, Happé, & Frith, 2001; Constantino & Todd, 2003; Posserud et al., 2006). The comorbidity issue in autism has not been resolved, and authorities in the field still argue about whether autism can be associated with other disorders, including ADHD. Both the DSM-IV and ICD-10 include a section of the diagnostic criteria that is difficult to interpret but that would tend to make researchers and clinicians loathe to diagnose coexisting/comorbid ADHD in ASD. Conversely, ADHD has long been agreed to be a common type of childhood behavior disorder and one that does blend into normality.

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