The Double Diagnosis Of Autism & ADHD

I imagine, as it’s just a few days before Christmas, there are a lot of excited children out there. The younger ones especially.

In terms of my grandchildren, Riley is 19 years old. Marley is now 14. So that leaves Andrew at age 8 as the youngest.

I don’t see the grandchildren much. Their moms are busy. Riley is in college. Marley plays softball much of the time. Plus Riley and Marley divide their time between their mom and their dad. And their dad lives in a town just outside Tulsa.

Autism & ADHD:

Unfortunately Andrew can’t stay still for more than a few seconds with both autism and ADHD. He has what is called a double diagnosis. Thus not all his behavioral problems are related to autism.

He’s come here, but no sooner does he sit down before he jumps up and wants to go, go, go. There’s no point in trying to keep him in one place.

Autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder often coincide, but the search for common biological roots has turned up conflicting evidence.

The poor kid has trouble at school or wherever else he goes. No medication seems to help and the doctors have been trying various ones for years. His parents are often at their wits end.

His dad takes him fishing, which is his favorite thing to do.

He wants to be a fisherman when he grows up; I don’t know if he realizes that he already is a fisherman. It’s one activity where he can hopefully concentrate a little bit. Out where it is quiet and there are fewer distractions.

My younger daughter and her husband did not want more than one child. She was already in her mid-thirties when Andrew was born.

But parents who do want more children face a very difficult decision.

Tests For Autism:

Apparently ultrasounds are not conclusive; so the parents should seek confirmation with tests that detect mutations.

According to Spectrum News: Diagnostic tests too, though, are less than definitive because researchers are still trying to understand how any given mutation might lead to autism.

“Most autism is probably polygenic, meaning there are many, many genes contributing to it,” says Neil Risch, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

Parents not only want to know whether their baby may be autistic, they want to know the level of support the child will require. They want to know the consequences of raising a child on the spectrum, and if early knowledge of the condition is helpful. 

Some experts believe parents with relatives on the spectrum should undergo genetic counseling before having (more) children.

Do you have someone on the autism spectrum in your family? Or more than one?

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24 Comments

  1. No one in my family that I’m aware of. But, my neighbors have two boys on the spectrum, one more severe than the other. That have had fantastic therapists, and programs, and have always tried to assimilate the boys into mainstream situations. The older one (my son’s friend) has improved quite remarkably, going away to college, driving, and now has a job. He went to public school, and I have to hand it to the boys in his grade — they included him in everything and were (and still are) quite protective of him. I credit the parents with having a very positive attitude and not holding them back (within what was reasonable and safe for them).

  2. Merry Christmas to all!
    Be safe, stay warm and pray for those who are not having a Christmas they would like to be having.

  3. No doubt many causes for autism, aspergers, etc. But I think the ADHD could have, at least in kids, some dietary components. One of our grandsons was pretty bad with ADHD when younger and on meds for a time, but he also was not willing to eat much of anything very nutritious. So I took a nutritious cookie recipe, and changed to gluten-free, plus added ground flax to it and the deal was he could have those “cookies” anytime, day or night, no matter if he had eaten a meal or not. After about a year of doing that, we could see it had made a good difference for him….seeing improvements along the way. I would not allow a very hyperactive child to have sugars unless something natural like honey, or coconut sugar and very little of it at that. I noticed many years ago that apples were greatly helpful for helping my young kids be calmer so anytime we went somewhere, I cut a large apple up into 4 pieces…everyone had to eat their quarter apple. Made for much easier travel etc. There used to be a book out there called “Let’s Have Healthy Children” by Adele Davis I think, that gave me many ideas to use. One of our grandsons has Aspergers. Because he was born early and very small and because our youngest child has had a life long battle due to having been given immunizations (which finally a smart doc figured out so we quit giving them to her), so my kids were waiting for grandson to grow larger before those were started. For various reasons, our kids decided to keep waiting…finally as a little fella he saw a top notch specialist who told them if he had been given even 1 vaccination, he would have had full blown autism. And definitely Asperger’s is enough to contend with, without it being worse. One of the worst problems in this country is this stupid idea that 1 solution fits all. Unfortunately, we have seen a huge effort to do this in a lot of the medical as well. Our kids homeschooled our Asperger grandson and his siblings. Sometimes schooling was done with him hanging off the edge of his chair, in all sorts of very active ways etc which can never be done in a classroom. During high school he worked part time in the nearby grocery store which made him an asst. manager in no time. He is graduating this June and has had a job for a couple years with an engineering firm here who have already asked him to stay permanently. He is very smart and very creative. It is a shame to see a wasted life. Which if you depend on the public schools esp. could well happen, as they are limited in many ways. If your daughter is not willing to homeschool him (lots of books and info out there on how to do such in unconventional ways that would fit the child’s needs), then at least send him to something like a Montessori school…where they try very hard to do things best for the child. Whatever extra efforts you expend now for your child will pay off in the long run. At the least, research and find ways to maybe help some with diet. That has been our family’s experience. Temple Grandin is a huge example of what Autistic people can do. There is a movie out about her life as well as her book.

  4. My nephew has ADHD and is gifted and talented. He was in art class. Students were to draw a picture about the name of a movie. I could see a mansion and trees for Gone with the Wind. He picked up a blue piece of chalk and drew The Thin Blue Line. What do you do with him for the remainder of the class or week for that matter. He cannot be punished for doing the assignment cleverly. He cannot be given another assignment. One solution is to ask him to teach some other student if he wants to do that. Special teacher teach these intelligent students. It is a joy to have one or two in your classroom. These are often the students who do not fit in the regular curriculum so they quit. They can take a GED to gain a diploma.

    1. Thanks for telling me that. What a beautiful story. Your nephew sounds very gifted. I myself have Asperger’s and I recall not being attentive in school and spent my time gazing out the window. As I got older, I simply got up and walked out or didn’t go at all. These children are often brilliant when it comes to creativity, and to squelch that because they don’t fit the mold or criteria for the perfect student is, to me, terribly sad. Many with developmental disorders have gone on to become great painters, authors, poets, actors, etc.

      1. Yes, I agree. The classroom where you sit and listen is not good for everyone. I took my nephew and niece to eat Asian food. He was a pro with chop sticks. When I asked him about that he told me when I had to sit in the corner I took two pencils and picked up everything in the floor. Clever children become clever adults.

  5. State of Oklahoma DDS
    PO Box 24400
    Okla City, Ok. 73124
    800-877-9978
    This is the office that makes disability decisions for SSI. U have to establish a case number first.

  6. A first cousin of ours, his son was diagnosed with autism.
    He’s 19 now.
    The mom had Timmy late in their life.
    They already had two daughters. 15 years apart altogether
    The/our families were never close.
    Friendly to a degree only.
    These (family) things become difficult for people to figure out.
    Then, some years ago, maybe 6, Timmy’s mom unexpectedly died.
    Dad and the sisters took over the household.
    I’m sure they did the best they could all do.
    Keeping things positive, and familiar with the boy.
    Was just so sad for Timmy his mom died.
    For awhile now, I’ve been reading countless IG (real) stories of children (all ages) diagnosed, (or not) with all types of autistic behaviors.
    Seems as if girls are diagnosed (usually older) much less than boys.
    Difficult to see.
    There’s so much to deal with.
    So, the moms have the most heartbreaking struggles.
    Not much one can do with a child when they refuse to cooperate.
    As the parent you must keep trying to explain things to the child. Over and over again.
    Of course I realize the reasons. Still so hard.
    The IG moms share stories together.
    Amazing there are so many (ongoing/daily) similarities.
    Often even the ages of the children hardly matter.
    Behaviors can be identical.
    Like for instance ,,,,,, foods.
    Or clothing they will not, and refuse to wear.
    Troubling and for sure scary for the parents.
    To live with, and deal with autism for years and years, seems impossible to me.
    For 100% certain, I’d never take the chance having a child in my 40’s.
    Way too risky.

  7. Hi Brenda, I am a recently retired social worker who worked with developmentally disabled individuals and am the mother of an adult son on Autism Spectrum. SSI is income based so parental income will make Andrew ineligible for benefits until he turns 18. Every state has services for developmentally disabled although they differ in the scope of services offered. In Oklahoma, it is called Developmentally Disabilities Services. My son was fortunate to have excellent teachers and access to needed therapy and services. My experience as a social worker working with school districts has been almost 100% positive and I am appreciative of the devotion of these educators.

  8. The reason for SSI is once you’re approved he’s eligible for Soonercare. Most insurance companies don’t cover all the therapies that are available to these kids. Soonercare pays everything. It doesn’t matter how much income you have. I believe the government owes these children. We have had therapy since before Donovan was two.

  9. Brenda,
    Go to the Town and Country website. Go to admissions. Send copies of everything they ask for. Mail it now so u will b in line. I have heard that Riverfield is also an excellent private school for children with learning differences. Good luck.

  10. Heck yes!! They don’t want to deal with it. They don’t know how. Does Andrew have an IEP? Is he in special classes? At Edison Donovan’s algebra teacher wasn’t fluent in English. English was her 3rd language. That was fun!! Just gotta laugh about it sometimes to keep from crying.

  11. Just a few more comments. In the 8th grade at Edison they put him in a closet because he was so distracted. At T&C they cannot fail your child if he attempts to participate. All children coming in from a public school qualifies for a Lindsay Nicole Henry grant. This school is awesome. My Grandson wants to go to TU and play basketball (ha ha). He’s been obsessing about this for years. He is a sweet kind (waaaay) generous child. Last year he gave away his brand new pair of $150 basketball shoes!! Hang in there.

  12. My husband and I have had guardianship of our Grandson since birth. He was diagnosed with Autism at 22 months. Later he was diagnosed with ASD. Again they tested him and determined he fell into the non-spectrum classification because he is verbal and social. Now they call it “borderline intellectual functioning in all areas. I can’t say enough about Town and Country School. He is graduating this year and hopefully will b accepted into a non credit program at NSU in Tahlequah that’s called RiverHawks. It’s a certificate 4 year program where they learn social skills, working skills and life skills so they can live on their own. I could talk with u forever. Please encourage your daughter to get Andrew on SSI. Any questions just ask.

    1. Yes, they tried Town & Country a year or so ago, but they said they didn’t have any availability. By SSI, what do you mean? Is that social security disability?

      1. Yes. You can get the forms off the internet and send all medical records. He has to have an IEP. Try Towm & Country again. It took us 2 years.

  13. I have a niece who is now in her 30’s. She also has this double diagnosis. Her mom had to take her out of school because she could not stay still and her teachers were frustrated with her. She wasn’t trying to be disruptive. She literally could not help it. She didn’t fit in with her family and her mom openly called her her “problem child”. My heart just went out to her. Outside of her immediate family she was everyone’s favorite person. We all love her dearly.

    1. I just emailed a link to an article in the Washington Post yesterday to Kasi about schools mistreating students who are disruptive and have ASD. The teachers call my daughter and say he’s being disruptive, or he won’t come in from recess. And my daughter is working and says: “What do you want me to do?” I guess maybe they’re wanting her to come pick him up.

      1. Her mother eventually pulled her out of school and tried homeschooling her, but that was a dismal failure. It would be wonderful if there were schools that were made specifically for children with these types of diagnosis.

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