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A 5-7 year follow-up study of cognitive functioning, motor skills and adaptive behaviour in co-occurring autism and ADHD

Participants: Nicklas Hult, Christopher Gillberg & Eva Billstedt.

Background: The core symptoms in ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have a crucial effect on children's development in the cognitive, emotional and social functioning areas. Primarily these developmental deviations cause a significant dysfunction in school, in the family and among peers. Around half of the children with ASD also meet the criteria for ADHD. However, current diagnostic criteria for ADHD (DSM-IV) eliminate an ASD diagnosis. The combination of ASD and ADHD most often constitutes a more severe disability with significant impairments in social ability and general adaptive ability. Furthermore, motor difficulties are often present. Co-occurrence of ADHD and ASD is common in younger children and hyperactivity/impulsivity sometimes masks less evident difficulties pertaining to social interaction and communication. Moreover, children with ASD and co-existing ADHD show a neuropsychological profile (for example in executive function and adaptive function) that deviates from that of children with ASD only.

Method: The study sets out to investigate whether ASD/ADHD is more similar to ASD or ADHD. We want to look at differences and similarities in (i) cognitive function, (ii) adaptive skills and (iii) motor skills. Participants will consist of children and adolescents who have previously (2005-2009) been assessed at the Child Neuropsychiatry Clinic (CNC) at Queen Silvia's Children's University Hospital in Gothenburg. All of the participants have undergone thorough assessments including medical examination using DSM-IV criteria, assessment of motor skills, psychological assessment using the Weschler scales, QbTest and the 5-15 questionnaires. The studied group will consist of 171 children and adolescents ranging in age from 11 to 18 years and divided into three clinical diagnosis-based groups; ADHD (n=89), ASD n=(47) or combined ADHD and ASD (n=35). The families will be offered to take part in a follow-up study. In the follow-up study the child will undergo a new evaluation of intelligence as well as testing of executive functioning using the above test and the computerized assessment battery CANTAB. In connection with the follow-up, the parents will also be asked to complete the same questionnaire regarding the child's behaviour that was filled out at the time of the initial assessment. Based on the parental interviews, diagnostic criteria will be investigated in accordance with the DSM-IV/5 checklist.

 

Page Manager: Anna Spyrou|Last update: 10/9/2014
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