Understanding Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome

Diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome in children is very difficult before the age of 6 and before they start attending school. Even experts wrongly diagnose these problems as attention deficit disorder. When doctors screen children, they do so for finding if the kids are having attention deficit disorder and not for Asperger’s syndrome.

When doctors themselves are finding it difficult to differentiate between both the problems, the difficulty of the parents will be all the more prominent. They may certainly mistake one for the other because there are many common symptoms like social awkwardness, impulsivity and focusing only on activities or things in which they have interest, in both the problems.

Differences between attention deficit disorder and asperger’s syndrome

Lack of social reciprocity

Children with Asperger’s syndrome may lack “social reciprocity” that is otherwise known as the Theory-of-Mind. This means that they do not realize that others may think and feel differently and may have desires and motivations that may be different from theirs. But, children affected by ADD may know others’ motives, expectations and desires.

Understanding social cues and body language

Kids who have the problem of AS may not make eye contacts with others and may not understand the social cues and the body language when they interact with others. But, ADD-affected children may not have these issues and so, they know how to modify their behaviors depending upon what they observe.

Common aspect in both the problems

The common aspect in both is that children with both the problems may indulge in tantrums. They may talk loudly and may find it difficult to make friends. Socially, both the types of children are considered failures but the reasons are different.

In the case of ADD, these children may know how to react, behave or do things but, they may forget at the spur of the moment. But, Aspies may not know these things at all because they do not realize that relationships are mutual and two-sided. They may be talking incessantly without any modulation in their voice but, they do not know that they are boring their friends. They also do not understand that their friends or others have stopped listening to them. But, ADD-affected children know these things but, they may not be able to control their domination during interactions or conversations.


ADD children may get distracted easily. But, Aspies do not have such “filters” and so, they may consider everything related to their environment as important. They are not confined by rules also. They may focus only small things and may not pay attention to the bigger picture.

Two types of asperger’s syndrome

You have two types in Asperger’s syndrome like unfocused syndrome and obsessive-compulsive syndrome. In the latter type, these children retreat into a different world of their own. You can observe them playing video games or reading their favorite books for long hours. They have their own rules or rituals. As in the case of ADD-children, they always seem to be pre-occupied and easily get distracted but, the reasons are different from those in ADD-affected children. The reasons are they are constantly thinking of their own rules or rituals. Parents should not worry that their children may lag behind the children of their equal age because treatment may take time. They should focus only on treating their children for the problem of Asperger’s syndrome and making them lead normal lives. 

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