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Autism traits may be more prevalent in ADHD than previously reported
  1. Kevin Antshel
  1. Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Kevin Antshel, kmantshe{at}

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What is already known on this topic?

Previous research has indicated that there are qualitative and quantitative differences in the behavioural phenotypes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1 The presence of ASD traits in children with ADHD, however, generally portends a more severe profile of symptoms and impairments. Cooper and colleagues’ study is novel due to the very large sample size of children with ADHD, and because it assesses ASD traits on a continuous scale.

What does this paper add?

  • ASD traits in children with ADHD were associated with lower familial socioeconomic status, higher levels of oppositional and/or defiant behaviours (especially aggression), and more working memory impairments, independent of ADHD severity.

  • ASD traits may be more prevalent in ADHD than previously reported. The mean Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) score reported by parents (13) is close to the SCQ screening threshold (15) for further consideration of ASD.


  • Several of the SCQ items (eg, ‘complicated movements of the body’) may be interpreted by parents as hyperactivity, thus artificially inflating ASD trait …

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  • Competing interests None.