Always moving, can’t focus...

Monica Walker

Posted on April 09 2018

As a baby Maddox was pretty mild mannered, he seemed to hit motor targets before his brother. He seemed to smile earlier, held his head up sooner, rolled over way before I thought he would, sat by himself unassisted before the “six month” expectation...he completely skipped crawling and went straight to walking quicker than MJ and climbing, oh the climbing. But, he still wasn’t overly hyper. He slept well, not through the night as quick as his brother. But once he started to he went to bed at a good time and let us sleep a little in the morning.  As time progressed and we received the diagnosis, things here and there changed.  Those who know me know I am a photographer and that I constantly took photos of my boys.  From the time Maddox was 2 months he would always look at the camera and most times smile.

(Left) Maddox at 4 Months Old, (Right) Maddox at 12 Months Old

When I began to look back in photos the most noticeable difference, and I had a pretty big gap between 1 and 18 months was at about 17 months.  We took the boys out to get some photos for Valentine's Day and I could not get him to look at the camera.  Everytime, I put the camera to my face he would look down or away.  The only way we were able to get him too look towards the camera was by putting Alvin & the Chipmunks on a tablet over the lens, and at that point he just looked towards the lens (actually at the movie) but no smiles.  This was the same kid who had been a ham since 2 months old!!

Maddox February 6, 2013 at 17 Months

From then on it seemed it was impossible to get him to focus, he wasn't extremely hyper at that point, but as the years have gone by he has gotten progressively hard to get still and impossible to get him to focus without constant redirection.

This brings us to another comorbid condition that happens quite often with autism and that is ADHD.  ADHD is the acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, it is a very common childhood behavioral disorder.  About 11% of children in America are diagnosed with it between the ages of 4 and 17.  Like autism, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with it than girls.  Autism and ADHD are very different disorders, and actually don't share too many of the same symptoms or behaviors, the main one that they do share is the inability to react or lack of concern for the emotions or feeling of others.  However, sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish whether a child has Autism or ADHD and that is because they can be concurrent disorders.  Some of the behaviors that children with Autism may exhibit that children with ADHD would not -  they are often times unresponsive to common stimuli (don't always respond to their name being called), repetitive movements or stimming (hand flapping, rocking, twisting), intense focus on ONE item (watching them same part of a movie over and over, taking about dinosaurs or the solar system for hours on end), avoiding eye contact, withdrawn behaviors (being in their own world) or delayed developmental milestones.  Some of the behaviors of children with ADHD may exhibit that children with Autism may not - being easily distracted, difficulty focusing or concentrating on ONE task, trouble sitting still, talking nonstop and blurting things out, being hyperactive.  If you have a child or know a child that exhibits all or most of these behaviors it could be that they have both Autism AND ADHD.

When both of these disorders occur in one person treatment can be tricky as there has been little reasearch on the affect of co-morbity of these two disorders.  In fact up until 2013 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) stated that the two conditions couldn't be diagnosed in the same person.  I will give you our experience of how these two disorders together have affected our lives in a later post as it is difficult to put into words and the range of treatments have been quite extensive...ciao for now... Monica

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