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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, adaptive functioning, and quality of life in children with autism spectrum disorder.

TitleAttention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, adaptive functioning, and quality of life in children with autism spectrum disorder.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsSikora, DM, Vora, P, Coury, DL, Rosenberg, D
Date PublishedNov
KeywordsAdaptation, Adolescent, AIM, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/co [Complications], Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/ep [Epidemiology], Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/px [Psychology], Child, Child Development Disorders, Female, Humans, IM, Infant, Male, Pervasive/co [Complications], Pervasive/px [Psychology], Preschool, Psychological, Quality of Life

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the frequency of co-occurring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in a well-defined cohort of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and to examine the relationship between ADHD symptoms and both adaptive functioning and health-related quality of life as reported by parents or other primary caregivers. METHODS: T scores on 2 ADHD-related scales from the Child Behavior Checklist were used to indicate the presence of ADHD symptoms. Participants were divided into groups based on whether their parents/caregivers rated them as having clinically significant T scores on the Attention Problem and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Problem subscales. Standard scores from the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition and raw scores from the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory were then compared between groups with the use of multivariate analyses. RESULTS: Approximately 40% of participants had 1 elevated T score, and 19% had both ADHD-related T scores elevated on the Child Behavior Checklist. The ASD + ADHD group had lower scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory in comparison with the ASD alone group. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest greater impairment in adaptive functioning and a poorer health-related quality of life for children with ASDs and clinically significant ADHD symptoms in comparison with children with ASDs and fewer ADHD symptoms. Physicians are encouraged to evaluate for the presence of ADHD symptoms in their patients with ASDs and, if present, include symptom treatment in the overall care plan.


Lead Author
Darryn M. Sikora

Study Aims and Objective
To document the frequency of parent-reported Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and to evaluate the difference between the social skills and quality of life of children with both ADHD and ASD and those with just ASD.

Methods - Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
This study determined the presence of ADHD symptoms using two scales created by the results of parental questionnaires. Information for 3066 participants (2586 males, 480 females) regarding daily living skills, ability to socialize, and quality of life were also examined. The boys and girls in this study were between the ages of 2 and 17 years.

Results – Main Finding(s)
Approximately 40% of participants reported having ADHD symptoms according to one of the scales. Almost 20% showed ADHD symptoms according to both scales. Among the children with ASD in this study, those who also reported ADHD symptoms had poorer daily living and social skills and a worse quality of life.

Conclusion – Summary Statement
Results from this study suggest that over one-third of children with ASD have some co-occurring ADHD symptoms, and that the presence of ADHD symptoms is related to greater problems in daily living skills and socializing, as well as poorer quality of life. These results suggest that primary care and other providers should screen for symptoms of ADHD in their patients with ASD and, if present, consider these symptoms when developing a care plan.

PubMed ID23118259