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Understanding Autism, OCD and ADHD - Advice for Parents & Carers

ADHD & Co-occurring Conditions

06 November 2020

This resource is brought to you by the ADHD Foundation Neurodiversity Charity. More than two thirds of children and young people with ADHD will have at least one coexisting condition. Explore examples of the different conditions and their explanations in more detail.

What Conditions Can Co-occur With ADHD?

More than two thirds of children and young people with ADHD will have at least one coexisting condition. Just as ADHD can present many challenges in your child’s life, other conditions can be just as difficult and may require specialist intervention, particularly in learning environments. ADHD can also exist with one or more different conditions.

Ten examples of co-occurring conditions with ADHD:

1.Oppositional, defiant behaviours
This is commonly known as Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and research has shown that up to 40% of children and young people with ADHD can experience this. ODD can include a regular pattern of arguing; losing one’s temper; refusing to follow rules; blaming others; deliberately annoying others and being angry, resentful, spiteful and vindictive.

2. Anxiety
Up to 30% of children and young people with ADHD can experience high levels of Anxiety and this often carries on into adulthood. This can manifest itself as constant and excessive worrying and often feeling stressed out, tired and having difficulty sleeping.

3. Tourette’s Syndrome and Tics
Between 60% to 80% of children and young people with Tourette’s Syndrome have ADHD. Tics can occur in up to 10% of those who have ADHD. Tics involve sudden, rapid, recurrent and involuntary movements or vocalisations. Tourette’s Syndrome can involve a more severe tic disorder in which repetitive movements and vocalisations occur on an almost daily basis for years.

4. Sleep Disorders
Between 25% - 50% of children and young people with ADHD will experience difficulties with sleep. These difficulties can include falling asleep and staying asleep. Lack of sleep will exacerbate the symptomology of ADHD and impact upon mental health.

5. Sensory Integration Disorder
This condition is sometimes also known as Sensory Processing Disorder. This is a neurological condition that interferes with the body’s ability to receive messages from the senses. Children and young people can feel overwhelmed by competing sensory experiences, for example, conversations going on at the same time as flashing lights. Research shows that up to 10% of children and young people will have some type of sensory integration challenge and this can be very common in children and young people with ADHD.

6. Autism Spectrum Condition
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that is characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour.

7. Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a condition which causes difficulties in learning to read and to interpret words, letters and other symbols. It also causes impairments in information processing, that is, having difficulties in processing and remembering information that is seen or heard.

8. Dysgraphia
Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability which affects writing. It can cause difficulties in spelling, writing production and getting thoughts on paper. It is estimated to affect between 20%- 60% of children and young people with ADHD and often co-occurs with other motor and/ or processing challenges.

9. Dyscalculia
Dyscalculia is a learning difficulty that affects a child’s ability to acquire mathematical skills, for example, understanding basic number concepts and/ or number relationships, recognising symbols and undertaking number-based problems.

10. Dyspraxia
Dyspraxia is a neurodevelopmental condition which causes difficulties in activities requiring coordination and movement. Possible signs include poor hand- eye coordination, writing difficulties and balance issues

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