June, 2013

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Overlapping Disorders Can Inform Autism Symptoms

By Chelsea E. Toledo, M.A. on June 6, 2013
Overlapping Disorders


Background: In clinical settings, health professionals have noted overlaps between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and various other childhood syndromes, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A leading child psychiatrist, Christopher Gillberg,  proposed a model in 2010—called Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations (ESSENCE)—in which a range of disorders affecting childhood development would be considered and addressed simultaneously.


What’s New: On March 25, 2013, the Scientific World Journal published a retrospective study of 413 adults with various psychiatric disorders. Their parents reported the impairments they faced in early development—including difficulties in communication, motor skills, social interaction, and other areas. As children, individuals with either ASD or ADHD, or both disorders, reportedly faced greater difficulties in nearly all areas than those with other disorders.


Why it’s important: This study suggests that developmental disorders like ADHD and ASD are linked to a range of problems with behavior and development. Using the ESSENCE model, the researchers identified symptoms that professionals do not use to diagnose ASD or ADHD, such as gross and fine motor skills, body and visual perception, memory, and time concepts, to name a few, but that can nevertheless shed light on the complexity those disorders present.

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