Co-occurrence of Motor Problems and Autistic Symptoms in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate the relation between parent reports of motor problems and clinically significant autistic symptoms in children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Method:

Subjects were male (n = 521) and female (n = 330) twins from an epidemiological study of ADHD, ages 7 to 19 years at assessment using the Child Behavior Checklist and semistructured psychiatric diagnostic interviews. Parent-rated Social Responsiveness Scale questionnaires were returned for 62% of 1,647 individuals who participated in interviews. After exclusion of subjects with incomplete data or evidence of mental retardation, 851 subjects (52%) were available for the present study analysis. Each subject was classified by DSM-IV ADHD subtype and assigned to one of seven population-defined ADHD subtypes based on latent class analysis of DSM-IV ADHD symptoms. Within each ADHD subtype, we examined the relation between Child Behavior Checklist motor problem endorsement and elevated autistic symptoms on the Social Responsiveness Scale.

Results:

Motor problems and high levels of autistic traits were most common in individuals with combined-type ADHD. Within each of the clinically relevant DSM-IV and latent class ADHD subtypes, individuals with the combination of motor problems and ADHD were more likely to have high levels of autistic traits than those with ADHD alone.

Conclusions:

Children with the combination of ADHD and parent-reported motor coordination deficits have elevated levels of autistic symptoms. Targeted treatment and prevention interventions may be warranted. The exclusion criteria for DSM-IV ADHD should be revised to reflect these population-based findings.

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