Autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: similarities and differences in executive functioning and theory of mind

A. Miranda-Casas, I. Baixauli-Fortea, C. Colomer-Diago, B. Roselló-Miranda [REV NEUROL 2013;57 (Supl. 1):S177-S184] PMID: 23897146 DOI: https://doi.org/10.33588/rn.57S01.2013279 OPEN ACCESS
Volumen 57 | Number S01 | Nº of views of the article 16.209 | Nº of PDF downloads 2.408 | Article publication date 06/09/2013
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ABSTRACT Artículo en español English version
INTRODUCTION Although the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria do not overlap, the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in individuals with a clinical diagnosis of autism is quite high. At the same time, children with ADHD can have autistic traits, the most prevalent being social and communication difficulties. The analysis of the combination of executive functions and theory of mind (ToM) deficits could help to explain the overlap and differentiation between the two disorders.

AIM To review the findings of empirical studies in which children with ADHD and autism have been compared on indicators of executive functions and ToM. DEVELOPMENT. The literature review suggests the existence of distinct patterns in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and ADHD when the executive functioning is segmented by components. Children with ADHD experience deficits in inhibitory control, while children with ASD have problems with cognitive flexibility and planning. Regarding the domain of the mentalist skills, there are developmental differences, as well as differences in their severity. Younger children with ASD have greater deficiencies in the ToM compared to children with ADHD, and a primary deficit in social orientation. CONCLUSION. Although important progress has been made, some issues remain to be clarified, among which we can highlight the analysis of how ToM development affects poor executive functions development, using longitudinal studies that analyze the developmental paths of children with ASD and children with ADHD.
KeywordsADHDAutismExecutive FunctioningFlexibilityInhibitionTheory of mind CategoriesNeuropediatríaNeuropsiquiatría
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