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.
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.
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.
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.