ADHD vs Autism (Simplified)

ADHD vs Autism Venn Diagram

A common question I see in neurodivergent communities is “How do I distinguish ADHD from autism”?

So I made a venn diagram of similarities and differences between the two. Note that this diagram is mainly (but not entirely) based on the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and what psychologists look for in assessments, not self reports in neurodivergent communities in which greater similarities are reported.

A lot of autistic people also have ADHD, and many autistic people struggle with executive dysfunction as with people with ADHD.

Self reports of greater similarities may be due to autistic individuals also having ADHD. However, ADHD and autism are distinct neurotypes, and not everyone with one meets the criteria for the other.

If you want to untangle the two and want to figure out if you meet the diagnostic criteria for one or the other or both, this diagram should help.

For example, if you have ADHD and want to know if you have autism traits, then look on the autism side of the venn diagram to see if you have traits that don’t also fall under ADHD and are better explained by autism.

Note that this is a simplified diagram of well known ADHD and autism traits that does not replace the diagnostic criteria nor does this substitute thorough research.

Of course, not everyone with ADHD/autism will have EVERY ADHD/autistic trait as listed in the diagram, nor is the diagram meant to imply ALL ADHD/autistic people must have every single trait. 

In addition, traits on either side of the diagram have been chosen to maximize differentiation between conditions as the diagram is meant to help untangle which trait can be explained by what, according to their diagnostic criterias. E.g. Not all autistic people are monotone, but being monotone is uniquely autistic when comparing traits with ADHD.

I am aware that many people with ADHD also experience sensory issues (e.g. misophonia) and that many autistic people experience executive dysfunction. However, these are not a part of their respective diagnostic criterias.

A more detailed post comparing ADHD and autism will be made in the future.

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