Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Intellectual Disability (ID) are common co-occurring neurodevelopmental disorders; however, limited research exists regarding the presentation and severity of overlapping symptomology, particularly inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, when a child is diagnosed with one of more of these neurodevelopmental disorders.
As difficulties with inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are symptoms frequently associated with these disorders, the current study aims to determine the differences in the severity of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity in children diagnosed with ADHD, ASD, ID, and co-occurring diagnosis of ADHD/ID, ASD/ADHD, and ASD/ID.
Participants in the current study included 113 children between the ages of 6 and 11 who were diagnosed with ADHD, ASD, ID, ADHD/ID, ASD/ADHD, or ASD/ID. Two MANOVA analyses were used to compare these groups witih respsect to symptom (i.e., inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity) severity.
Results indicated that the majority of diagnostic groups experienced elevated levels of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. However, results yielded differences in inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity severity. In addition, differences in measure sensitivity across behavioral instruments was found.
Children with neurodevelopmental disorders often exhibit inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, particularly those with ADHD, ASD, ASD/ADHD, and ADHD/ID; therefore, differential diagnosis may be complicated due to similarities in ADHD symptom severity. However, intellectual abilities may be an important consideration for practitioners in the differential diagnosis process as children with ID and ASD/ID exhibited significantly less inattention and hyperactive/impulsive behaviors. Additionally, the use of multiple behavior rating measures in conjunction with other assessment procedures may help practitioners determine the most appropriate diagnosis.