ADHD, homeschooling

The Connection Between Autism and ADHD

If you spend much time looking into ADHD or autism, you will learn that researchers consider them to be in the same category of disorders: developmental disorders.

A developmental disorder is not a mental illness or psychological disorder. It is a difference in the way that brain develops.

For this reason in many cases, some parts of the brain mature at a different rate than other parts.

I have discussed in detail in another post why we need to value and appreciate those differences.

This post is about the connection between ADHD and autism.

There are many theories about how ADHD and autism are connected; this is how the connection was explained to me.

I made this chart a few years ago for my Facebook group, Homeschooling the ADHD Child, based on my doctor’s explanation of how he believed ADHD was connected to autism.

There is so much overlap between the two disorders.

And numerous theories about how they are connected.

I offer it here in hopes that it is helpful to others as it was to me.

[Credit for this information goes to Dr. Keith Swanson, Salem, Oregon, and it was based on diagnostic criteria available in 2009. I know that autism is not broken into parts under the current criteria. I think the information here is still useful for conversation and consideration.] 

Theory of ADHD on the Autism Spectrum.jpg

I hope this chart is insightful.


Sarah Forbes


1 thought on “The Connection Between Autism and ADHD”

  1. Interesting, this is the first time I’ve read anything like this but I’m open to it. My son was recently diagnosed with ADHD-I and I pulled him to homeschool because he was suffering in public school. He’s brilliant and funny and kind and sometimes it’s like the lights are on but nobody’s home 😛

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