Autism and ADHD

Autism information

Just like anyone else, autistic people can have good mental health. However, people with autism do often experience mental health problems. Seven out of ten autistic people have a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety disorders and/or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Autistic people are more likely to experience mental health issues than the general population

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first 2 years of life.

Autism affects the way individuals interact with others and how they experience the world around them. Every autistic person is different, which means that each person has unique strengths and challenges.

Autistic people may have:

  • challenges with communicating and interacting with others
  • repetitive and different behaviours, moving their bodies in different ways
  • strong interest in one topic or subject
  • unusual reactions to what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste
  • preferences for routines and dislike change.

There is no known cause of autism.

Much research is being done to try to find out more. Right now, evidence suggests that autism results from changes to the development and growth of the brain. These changes may be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics.

Autism is part of who a person is. It isn’t caused by parenting or social circumstances. Autism is also not caused by vaccination or other medical treatment. 

Autism may be present with other conditions. This can affect people in different ways. Some other conditions autistic people commonly experience are:

  • speech and language challenges
  • intellectual disability
  • sleep problems
  • attention problems
  • hyperactivity
  • epilepsy
  • anxiety and depression
  • challenges with fine and gross motor skills.

How does Autism affect mental health?

People with autism have difficulty recognising or understanding other people’s feelings and also expressing their own. The find things like bright lights, loud noises and crowded spaces stressful or even upsetting. People with autism prefer familiar routines, unexpected changes this can leave them feeling anxious or upset.

Autism is not a mental health problem but autistic people can have good and bad mental health like anyone else. There are things that can be done to help – talk to people and seek professional help if you need it.

Sensory overload, changes in routine, social isolation, co-occurring conditions, and lack of support can all exacerbate the symptoms of autism. However, with early intervention, therapy, and support, individuals with autism can manage these challenges and improve their quality of life.

Social interactions can be baffling for people that are autistic. They may become easily overwhelmed or frustrated when they try to develop and sustain friendships. Making friends can be frightening, confusing and anxiety-provoking for autistic young people.

Among those with autism, common triggers include disturbing breaks in routine, lack of sleep, jarring “sensory stimuli” (noises, lights, or smells) or even undiagnosed mental health problems. It’s important to look beyond the behaviour itself to identify the underlying cause.

There are many barriers that make it harder for Autistic people to get the right mental health care.

These can include low autism awareness and understanding by mental health practitioners, communication difficulties (particularly when a person is non-verbal), sensory sensitivities and a lack of coordination and collaboration between mental health, mainstream health, disability services and other sectors, including education, employment and housing.

Poor autism understanding can lead to healthcare professionals assessing an Autistic person’s mental health concerns as simply part of their autism. When this happens, the individual’s mental health issues are often not properly diagnosed or treated, resulting in poor outcomes for their health and wellbeing. 

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be a lifelong condition. You might start to experience symptoms in childhood and find that they continue into your teenage years and as an adult. The symptoms of ADHD fall into two groups: inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. You may have difficulties that fall into one or both categories. Symptoms of ADHD may present themselves differently. For example, boys with ADHD may be more disruptive in the classroom than girls. Adults are less likely to show hyperactivity.

  • Lack of attention to detail
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Inability to focus or prioritise
  • Continually losing things
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and edginess
  • Interrupting people
  • Mood swings, difficulty regulating emotions
  • Extreme impatience

While the exact cause of ADHD is not clear, research efforts continue. It is believed that a combination of factors – including genetics and brain chemistry – are likely responsible. Some people may be more likely to develop ADHD, including those born prematurely or with low birth weights or with epilepsy or brain damage.

ADHD may coexist with one or more disorders.

Disruptive behaviour disorders. About 40 percent of individuals with ADHD have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

Mood disorders.

Anxiety.

Tics and Tourette Syndrome.

Learning disorders.

Sleep disorders.

Substance abuse.

How does ADHD affect mental health?

We know that if you have ADHD you’re more likely to experience a mental health problem. There’s evidence that anxiety, depression, conduct disorder (persistent patterns of antisocial, aggressive or defiant behaviour), substance abuse, and sleep problems are all more common with people who have ADHD.

Local support

Find local autism and ADHD support around Doncaster

Tel: 01405 812128

Email: Info@autismplus.co.uk

Website: www.autismplus.co.uk

We support adults and young people with autism, learning disabilities, mental health conditions and complex needs in services across the north of England.

Choice is central to our vision. You and I can choose where and how we live, what we eat, wear and do. We believe that everyone, no matter what barriers they are facing, should have those same choices and the chance to realise their full potential.

Our support services include residential and supported living, adult learning, employment support and social enterprises.

Tel: 01302 796880

The Community Adult Autism Team are a small specialist community service. We provide assessments, diagnosis and interventions to adults in Doncaster with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The Community Adult Autism Team is based at: 2 Jubilee Close Tickhill Road Hospital Balby Doncaster DN4 8QN. Working week Monday – Friday (excluding bank holidays) between 8am and 8pm depending on patient needs.

Tel: 01302 637566

Free counselling therapy sessions for any carer registered with either Doncaster Partnership for Carers or Doncaster Parents Voice.

Pre-bookable appointments only.

Tuesdays & thursdays 09:00 – 16:00.

Doncaster Carers Centre, 2 Regent Terrace, South Parade, DN1 2EE

Tel: 07536 455292

Email: das@doncastercarers.org.uk

Doncaster Autism Service’s flagship offer is the new post-diagnostic pathway for adults diagnosed with Autism. Upon receiving a diagnosis, adults with ASD are now automatically referred to this pathway where they will be offered a course of 1-2-1 sessions and group workshops covering a wide range of Autism-related topics in a supportive environment.

Doncaster autism service also offer support for those diagnosed with ADHD

Email: das@doncastercarers.org.uk

Tel: 01302 637566

For any carer registered with Doncaster Partnership for Carers or Doncaster Parent’s Voice.

Every wednesday 10:00-13:00.

Pre-booking only, no walk-ins.

Doncaster Carers Centre, 2 Regent Terrace, South Parade, DN1 2EE

  • Connect with ADHD South Yorkshire on Facebook – This is a support group for parents of children under diagnosis or diagnosed with ADHD. This group is private and only members can see posts. This site covers Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ADHDSouthYorkshire/

National support organisations

See what national support is available for autism.

Call: 020 8815 5444

E-mail: info@ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk

Website: www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk

We stand with autistic children and young people, champion their rights​ and create opportunities. We run specialist education services, an award-winning employment programme and children and young people are at the heart of our charity’s decision-making, policy work and campaigning. 

We also use our expertise to deliver training and consultancy to a wide range of organisations to improve awareness and understanding of autism.

Website: www.autism.org.uk

We provide in-depth advice and guidance on the challenges autistic people and their families face.

Addup was set up to bring families together, to guide parents in the right direction to find the practical help they need for their children and to promote both public and professional awareness of ADHD. http://www.addup.co.uk

Our objective is to promote awareness to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and to provide information and as much free practical help as we can to sufferers, both adults and children, and their families in the UK and around the World via this website. www.adders.org

ADHD Voices brings the perspectives and experiences of children into international debates around rising child psychiatric diagnoses and the increasing use of drugs in child psychiatry. These voices contribute to an empirical evidence base that helps to inform ethical debate, clinical judgment, and national policy. VOICES is a Wellcome Trust funded research project based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. www.adhdvoices.com

The ADHD Foundation is the UK’s leading neurodiversity charity, offering a strength-based, lifespan service for the 1 in 5 of us who live with ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, DCD, Dyscalculia, OCD, Tourette’s Syndrome and more. www.adhdfoundation.org.uk

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