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Adults with ADHD may have a hard time organizing things, listening to instructions, remembering details, or difficulty completing tasks, which can affect their relationships at home, school, and work.
People who have ADHD may exhibit different symptoms, and they may experience them at different levels of severity, ranging from mild to significant impairment.
Early results suggest that this type of intervention decreases mood severity in children, while improving family interactions and access to appropriate healthcare.
If you or your child has autism and you’re concerned that it may be complicated by a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder, we recommend that you seek assessment from a mental health provider with experience in autism spectrum disorders and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.
Adults with ADHD may exhibit the same symptoms they had as children, and although hyperactivity often diminishes by adulthood, inattentiveness and impulsivity may persist.
ADHD symptoms often include an inability to focus, disorganization, and restlessness.
The atypical antipsychotics risperidone and aripiprazole are both FDA-approved to treat irritability in children with autism ages 6 and older.
However both tend to produce significant weight gain and diabetes risk. In addition to medication, researchers at our ATN center (Ohio State and Nationwide Children’s Hospital) are evaluating a family treatment intervention that combines education and psychotherapy to help individuals with autism and mood disorders.
By contrast, let’s say the same teenager abruptly started going without sleep for days in a row, while having more tantrums than usual. Not surprisingly, the symptoms of bipolar disorder in someone with autism are likely to look different than they would in others.
For these reasons, traditional methods of assessing psychiatric disorders can be inappropriate for many of those with autism.
It’s particularly important for the doctor to get to know the individual and his or her family and environment before attempting such a diagnosis.
The challenge is to distinguish symptoms of a mood disturbance from those of autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Its symptoms can include extreme frustration and difficulty controlling emotions, as well as hyperactivity, distractibility and impulsivity.
In a study of children with autism (ages 7 to 17), we found that nearly a third had frequent episodes of “elevated mood.” Just over 60 percent could be described as “very irritable.” Just over half talked excessively.