Is Asperger's a social phobia

Autism / Asperger's Syndrome in Adults

One of the most important differential diagnoses, but also comorbidities of the ADHD in adults, is the autism or that Asperger syndrome. Since a misdiagnosis, but also a common presence, has a great influence on further therapy, it is important to deal with this clinical picture in more detail.

About 1% of the population is from one Autism or Asperger's Syndrome affected. Up to 80% of the affected children meet the criteria for ADHD. Conversely, up to 50% of children with ADHD show symptoms of autism.

Like people with ADHD, people with autism often experience restlessness, attention deficit disorders, and impulsiveness. However, in contrast to ADHD, these are side effects. They result from the great sensitivity of those affected to stimuli. People with autism usually perceive sounds, light, touch, and even taste and smell, more intense than the so-called “neurotypical”.

This “sensory overload”, i.e. the excessive influence of stimuli, often leads to a complete overstrain, which manifests itself in increased activity and, in the worst case, in outbursts of anger or emotional breakdowns in the sense of crying attacks. And the so-called "hyperfocus", that is, the narrowing to a special activity in which those affected completely lose themselves and no longer appear responsive, occurs in both diseases. It is not uncommon for symptoms from the spectrum of an autistic disorder to be misinterpreted as the impulsiveness and hyperactivity of ADHD.

It becomes difficult when both disorders come together. Then a clear differentiation of the symptoms is often very difficult. Often times, symptoms of autism are masked by symptoms of ADHD and vice versa.

Take, for example, the disorganization of ADHD and the need for routines of autism. People with Asperger's Syndrome have the (sometimes unconscious) desire for the same processes, routines and order. Many also have a big problem with being late. This can have a positive effect on the disorganization and lack of punctuality that often occur in ADHD, so that this hardly occurs.

On the other hand, however, the exact opposite can also happen. The symptoms of disorganization ADHD lead to an increased level of suffering because they are contrary to the needs of autism. If the organization simply does not succeed, the routines cannot be maintained, the level of suffering increases immeasurably. At first glance, ADHD sometimes also "helps" to cope better with everyday social life. Because of the impulsiveness, those affected come into better contact with their environment, they are more curious and more willing to take risks. However, this should not hide the fact that it takes just as much strength and often only has an external effect.

Regardless of whether it is ADHD, Asperger's autism, or both, the compensation strategies are numerous and mask the symptoms. The consequences are further illnesses or misdiagnoses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia or borderline personality disorder. It is therefore important to look carefully in order to break the vicious circle and take appropriate therapies.