Children with autism who also have ADHD

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Did you know children with autism who also have ADHD tend to be diagnosed with autism at a much later age? Now, researchers want to know why, and how to provide better treatment for better outcomes. 

Like most 7-year-old boys, Darren Meeks loves to play with his monster trucks and ride his scooter. But Darren knows he's different. 

Darren says, "I'm autistic so I'm more sensitive."

Darren was diagnosed with autism at age four.

Myranda Meeks, Darren's mother says, "He was diagnosed with ADHD a year later." 

Dr. Geraldine Dawson, Center for Autism & Brain Development, Duke University says, "40 to 60 percent of children with autism also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD."

Dr. Dawson says we don't know why the conditions tend to overlap, but she says children with both may get a delayed autism diagnosis. 

Dr. Dawson says, "In fact, those children are 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism after age six." 

So researchers at Duke University are conducting a study that focuses on early detection. 

Dr. Dawson says, "We're going to be following 9,000 children from the community." 

Researchers will measure the brain's response to information to help them better understand the link. 

Dr. Dawson says, "We want to see whether treating the adhd symptoms will allow the child with autism to better benefit from early intervention." 

Myranda admits life has changed after the dual diagnosis. But Darren is thriving in school, and has lots of friends.

Darren says, "But our brains just work differently."

The five year study will also evaluate a treatment that combines behavioral intervention with medication for ADHD. 


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