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When Disorders Share Traits

There are many overlaps between different disorders, it can be a nightmare trying to determine which it could be. Although you should consult a specialist to have a disorder properly diagnosed, it is helpful to have some sort of an idea what disorder it is first, partly because this often affects who ends up diagnosing the disorder. This can be complicated, for example, there are several disorders which affect attention and organisation. Likewise, many present behavioural problems.

At this point, you may be wondering why it matters which diagnosis you get, as long as you receive the help you require. It does matter a lot - there are differently defined disorders for a reason - they originate in different parts of the brain, or those parts of the brain are affected in different ways. This means that a person with dyspraxia, for example, will require a different approach to someone with attention deficit disorder, despite both disorders sharing the inattentive trait.

Use the information below to identify and differentiate between possible disorders according to their symptoms. Then read the relevant information on the greenconnection website for further details.

Note: Where it says, for example 'often', it does not mean they often exhibit that symptom eg. rage attacks, but how likely it is that they have that symptom with that disorder or how likely it is that they have that disorder, if they exhibit such symptoms.

Tics

Tourette's Syndrome: Required for diagnosis (multiple motor, at least one vocal).

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Required for diagnosis (single or multiple motor only).

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Required for diagnosis (single or multiple vocal only).

Transient Tic Disorder: Required for diagnosis (single or multiple motor and/or vocal).

Obsessions

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Required for diagnosis unless compulsions are present (but there may be both). These are generally about things the person does not wish to think about and/or are about things which might happen, eg. morbid thoughts, even though the person has no wish for these things to happen or be carried out.

Autism: Often. These are usually about a particular subject which the person will often pursue against all reason. They may also seem to be obsessed with parts of things. Note: obsessive compulsive disorder is a common co morbid disorder of autism.

Aspergers Syndrome: Often. These are usually about a particular subject which the person will often pursue against all reason. They may also seem to be obsessed with parts of things (eg. wheels on a car instead of the whole car, although these are not obsessions as such). Note: obsessive compulsive disorder is a common co morbid disorder of Aspergers syndrome.

Tourette's Syndrome: Sometimes. This is the subject of much debate. Generally speaking, this could be a co morbid obsessive compulsive disorder, or just associated obsessive compulsive behaviour ('Tourette's syndrome with obsessive compulsive behaviour') although mental tics can occur. These mental tics are generally automatic and are not responses to any unwanted thought or to stop something from happening.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Sometimes. This is the subject of much debate. Generally speaking, this could be a co morbid obsessive compulsive disorder, or just associated obsessive compulsive behaviour ('chronic motor tic disorder with obsessive compulsive behaviour') although mental tics can occur. These mental tics are generally automatic and are not responses to any unwanted thought or to stop something from happening.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Sometimes. This is the subject of much debate. Generally speaking, this could be a co morbid obsessive compulsive disorder, or just associated obsessive compulsive behaviour ('chronic vocal tic disorder with obsessive compulsive behaviour') although mental tics can occur. These mental tics are generally automatic and are not responses to any unwanted thought or to stop something from happening.

Transient Tic Disorder: Generally, as this is just a common, passing childhood disorder, obsessions probably would not be present. If they are, they are generally mild and will disappear as the tics do.

Compulsions

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Required for diagnosis unless obsessions are present (but there may be both). These are generally in response to an obsession. They are generally to 'neutralise' an unwanted or unpleasant thought or to prevent it happening (magical thinking, eg. touching something eight times to stop the car from crashing later) even though they realise that this won't really have any effect on whether something happens or not (this realisation does not apply for children).

Tourette's Syndrome: Sometimes. This is the subject of much debate. Generally speaking, this could be a co morbid obsessive compulsive disorder, or just associated obsessive compulsive behaviour ('Tourette's syndrome with obsessive compulsive behaviour'). Compulsions can be confused with complex motor (or, rarely, vocal) tics. Complex tics are usually fairly automatic or are as a response merely to an urge or uncomfortable feeling with no conscious need to neutralise a bad thought or to avoid an unfortunate event from occurring, as with compulsions.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Sometimes. This is the subject of much debate. Generally speaking, this could be a co morbid obsessive compulsive disorder, or just associated obsessive compulsive behaviour ('chronic motor tic disorder with obsessive compulsive behaviour'). Compulsions can be confused with complex motor tics. Complex tics are usually fairly automatic or are as a response merely to an urge or uncomfortable feeling with no conscious need to neutralise a bad thought or to avoid an unfortunate event from occurring, as with compulsions.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: This is the subject of much debate. Generally speaking, this could be a co morbid obsessive compulsive disorder, or just associated obsessive compulsive behaviour ('chronic vocal tic disorder with obsessive compulsive behaviour'). Compulsions can be confused with complex vocal tics. Complex tics are usually fairly automatic or are as a response merely to an urge or uncomfortable feeling with no conscious need to neutralise a bad thought or to avoid an unfortunate event from occurring, as with compulsions. Vocal compulsions, however, are much less common than motor compulsions.

Transient Tic Disorder: Generally, as this is just a common, passing childhood disorder, compulsions probably would not be present. If they are, they are generally mild and will disappear as the tics do.

Inattention

Tourette's Syndrome: Fairly often present. Sometimes due to the person concentrating hard on suppressing their tics.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Fairly often present. Sometimes due to the person concentrating hard on suppressing their tics.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Fairly often present. Sometimes due to the person concentrating hard on suppressing their tics.

Transient Tic Disorder: Very unlikely. If present, may be due to the person concentrating hard on suppressing their tics.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Quite possible. May be due to obsessions or compulsions (or holding back compulsions).

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Often if predominantly hyperactive (unless purely hyperactive type (hyperkinesis)). Also distracted from racing thoughts and divergent (non-linear) thinking.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Required for diagnosis. This is known as a behavioural disorder and problems are caused in various parts of the brain. Person skips from task to task without finishing them (although they may also hyperfocus on things they enjoy). The person is easily distracted as their brain does not adequately filter out unimportant stimuli. Also distracted from racing thoughts and divergent (non-linear) thinking.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Required for diagnosis. This is known as a behavioural disorder and problems are caused in various parts of the brain. Person skips from task to task without finishing them (although they may also hyperfocus on things they enjoy). The person is easily distracted as their brain does not adequately filter out unimportant stimuli. Also distracted from racing thoughts and divergent (non-linear) thinking.

Autism: Often, but also hyperfocusing on their obsessions, or 'special subjects', if they have them.

Aspergers Syndrome: Often, but also hyperfocusing on their obsessions, or 'special subjects', if they have them.

Dyslexia: Often, but can sometimes be because they are finding it hard to understand - if someone doesn't understand something, they usually switch off from it. It's the same with dyslexia, although they may have problems with inattention anyway.

Dyspraxia: Responds to all stimuli without discrimination.

Auditory Processing Disorder: Often. If the connections from the outer ear to the brain do not function correctly, the person easily switches off, either because the brain isn't being told and reminded that there is something going to to listen to, or because the auditory information isn't being recognised properly as sounds and the person becomes fed up and therefore switches off from it because they don't understand what is being said. Often, auditory processing disorder makes it hard for the person to distinguish from background noise and so cannot hear what is being said properly. They are distracted by background noise and their attention is drawn from what they should be paying attention to.

Visual Processing Disorder: Often. If the connections from the eyes to the brain do not function correctly, the person easily switches off, either because the brain isn't being told and reminded that there is something going to to look at/watch, or because the visual information isn't being recognised properly and interpreted as understandable information and the person becomes fed up and therefore switches off from it because they don't understand what is being seen. They are distracted by sights around them and their attention is drawn from what they should be paying attention to.

Acute Stress Disorder/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Commonly. Inattention fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, so does the inattention.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Commonly. Inattention fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, so does the inattention.

Panic Disorder: Commonly. Inattention fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, so does the inattention.

Social Anxiety: Commonly. Inattention fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, so does the inattention.

Phobias: Commonly. Inattention fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, so does the inattention, so when the person in in a situation that involves the phobia, their stress levels will rise and inattention is to be expected while they are stressed/panicking.

Unipolar (Basic) Depression: Commonly. Depression usually causes inattention. If inattention appears in someone who has not been particularly inattentive before, be aware that it could be depression.

Bipolar (Manic) Depression: Commonly. Depression usually causes inattention. If inattention appears in someone who has not been particularly inattentive before, be aware that it could be depression. The manic phase of bipolar depression can also cause inattention. The inattention may fluctuate greatly with the phases.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Commonly. The inattention only appears when the person is depressed (in the autumn and winter months).

Hyperactivity:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Required for diagnosis.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Possible, but not usually present. In fact, many are hypoactive.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Required for diagnosis.

Tourette's Syndrome: Sometimes, but this may be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially if inattention is also present. Be careful not to confuse tics for hyperactivity/hyperactive fidgeting.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Sometimes, but this may be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially if inattention is also present. Be careful not to confuse tics for hyperactivity/hyperactive fidgeting.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Sometimes, but this may be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially if inattention is also present.

Transient Tic Disorder: Not usually, or if hyperactivity is present, it will generally be mild should disappear as the tics do. Be careful not to confuse tics for hyperactivity/hyperactive fidgeting.

Autism: Fairly commonly. This may be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Aspergers Syndrome: Fairly commonly. This may be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Auditory Processing Disorder:

Impulsivity

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Required for diagnosis.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Possible, but not usually present. In fact, many have a hard time making decisions and then acting on them.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Required for diagnosis.

Tourette's Syndrome: Commonly. Do not mistake tics such as coprolalia as the person being impulsive - these are slightly different. This can be to do dangerous things, such as put one's hand onto a hot iron. Impulsivity may be part of a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Commonly. Do not mistake tics such as copropraxia as the person being impulsive - these are slightly different. This can be to do dangerous things, such as put one's hand onto a hot iron. Impulsivity may be part of a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Commonly. Do not mistake tics such as coprolalia as the person being impulsive - these are slightly different. This can be to do dangerous things, such as put one's hand onto a hot iron. Impulsivity may part of be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Transient Tic Disorder: Not usually, or if impulsivity is present, it will generally be mild and should disappear as the tics do. Do not mistake tics such as coprolalia as the person being impulsive - these are slightly different.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Sometimes. This can be to do dangerous things, such as put one's hand onto a hot iron.

Autism: Often. This may be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Aspergers Syndrome: Often. This may be a co morbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Disorganisation

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Generally, but not absolutely necessary, as it may purely be hyperactivity (hyperkinesis).

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Required for diagnosis. Caused by abnormalities in certain parts of the brain. Disorganisation is caused poor short term memory, distractibility and difficulties in planning, prioritising and self monitoring. People with this disorder also often have a poor sense of time.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Required for diagnosis. Caused by abnormalities in certain parts of the brain. Disorganisation is caused poor short term memory, distractibility and difficulties in planning, prioritising and self monitoring. People with this disorder also often have a poor sense of time.

Dyslexia: Often. This is due to poor short term memory and difficulty in organisation due to the different thought patterns.

Dyspraxia: Often. This is due to poor short term memory and difficulty in organisation due to the different thought patterns.

Auditory Processing Disorder: Fairly commonly. This may be due to poor short term auditory memory.

Visual Processing Disorder: Fairly commonly. This may be due to poor short term visual memory.

Tourette's Syndrome: Possible. This may be a separate, co morbid disorder.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Possible. This may be a separate, co morbid disorder.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Possible. This may be a separate, co morbid disorder.

Transient Tic Disorder: Possible. This may be a separate, co morbid disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Possible. Despite having to have some things done in certain ways and having to have things in certain places etc., people with obsessive compulsive disorder may have difficulties in organisation.

Autism: Sometimes. Despite having to have some things done in certain ways and having to have things in certain places etc., people with obsessive compulsive disorder may have difficulties in organisation.

Aspergers Syndrome: Sometimes. Despite having to have some things done in certain ways and having to have things in certain places etc., people with obsessive compulsive disorder may have difficulties in organisation.

Social Impairment

Autism: Required for diagnosis. Due to abnormalities in the brain, a person with autism cannot automatically read facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. People with autism generally do not seek friendship.

Aspergers Syndrome: Required for diagnosis. Due to abnormalities in the brain, a person with Aspergers syndrome cannot automatically read facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. People with Aspergers syndrome do tend to seek friendship but find it very difficult and confusing.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Fairly often. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to poor attention span/distractibility.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Fairly often. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to poor attention span/distractibility.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Fairly often. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to poor attention span/distractibility.

Tourette's Syndrome: Possible. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to being distracted by tics.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Possible. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to being distracted by tics.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Possible. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to being distracted by tics.

Transient Tic Disorder: Possible. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to being distracted by tics.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Possible. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily due to being distracted by obsessions or compulsions or trying to hold them back.

Dyslexia: Quite possible. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily or find them difficult to read due to the abnormal thought patterns of dyslexia.

Dyspraxia: Quite possible. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily or find them difficult to read due to the abnormal thought patterns of dyspraxia.

Auditory Processing Disorder: Fairly commonly. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily or find the auditory clues (tone of voice, amplitude of voice etc.) difficult to read due to the disorder's processing deficits.

Visual Processing Disorder: Fairly commonly. People with this disorder (unless co morbid autism/Aspergers syndrome is involved) can generally read social signs (facial expressions, body language, tone of voice) but may miss these easily or find the visual clues (facial expressions, body language etc.) difficult to read due to the disorder's processing deficits.

Poor Short Term Memory:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Often.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Very often.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Very often.

Dyslexia: Often.

Dyspraxia: Often.

Auditory Processing Disorder: Often. Usually short term auditory memory that is affected.

Visual Processing Disorder: Often. Usually short term visual memory that is affected.

Tourette's Syndrome: People with this syndrome usually have an adequate short term memory, however this may be affected by tics - if they tic or are concentrating on not ticcing while information is being presented to them, they may not take in that information properly and will not remember it. This is not due to a poor short term memory, but an interference as the information was being received.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: People with this disorder usually have an adequate short term memory, however this may be affected by tics - if they tic or are concentrating on not ticcing while information is being presented to them, they may not take in that information properly and will not remember it. This is not due to a poor short term memory, but an interference as the information was being received.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: People with this disorder usually have an adequate short term memory, however this may be affected by tics - if they tic or are concentrating on not ticcing while information is being presented to them, they may not take in that information properly and will not remember it. This is not due to a poor short term memory, but an interference as the information was being received.

Transient Tic Disorder: People with this disorder usually have an adequate short term memory, however this may be affected by tics - if they tic or are concentrating on not ticcing while information is being presented to them, they may not take in that information properly and will not remember it. This is not due to a poor short term memory, but an interference as the information was being received.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: People with this disorder usually have an adequate short term memory, however this may be affected by obsessions or compulsions - if they have obsessions or compulsions or are concentrating on suppressing them while information is being presented to them, they may not take in that information properly and will not remember it. This is not due to a poor short term memory, but an interference as the information was being received.

Acute Stress Disorder/Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Possible. Poor short term memory fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, the short term memory improves.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Possible. Short term memory fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, the short term memory improves.

Panic Disorder: Possible. Short term memory fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, the short term memory improves.

Social Anxiety: Possible. Short term memory fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, the short term memory improves.

Phobias: Possible. Poor short term memory fluctuates with stress; when the stress disappears, the short term memory improves, so when the person in in a situation that involves the phobia, their stress levels will rise and poor short term memory is to be expected while they are stressed/panicking.

Unipolar (Basic) Depression: Possible. Depression sometimes causes poor short term memory. If poor short term memory appears in someone who has not had a particularly bad short term memory before, be aware that it could be depression.

Bipolar (Manic) Depression: Possible. Depression sometimes causes poor short term memory. If poor short term memory appears in someone who has not had a particularly bad short term memory before, be aware that it could be depression. The manic phase of bipolar depression may also affect short term memory. The short term memory may fluctuate greatly with the phases.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Possible. The short term memory problems only appear when the person is depressed (in the autumn and winter months).

Rages/'Short Fuse'

Autism: Often.

Aspergers Syndrome: Often.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Often.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Often. Possibly not as likely as with the other two subtypes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Often.

Tourette's Syndrome: Fairly often.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Fairly often.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Fairly often.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Fairly often. May be triggered if unable to perform compulsion.

Stereotypies

Autism: Very often.

Aspergers Syndrome: Often.

Slow Processing

Auditory Processing Disorder: Required for diagnosis. Usually with auditory information only, but can be with language, reading and other processing.

Visual Processing Disorder: Required for diagnosis. Usually with visual information only, but can be with sounds and other processing.

Dyslexia: Required for diagnosis. Usually with reading and language only, often with organisation and planning but can be with visual, auditory and other processing.

Dyspraxia: Often. Usually with processing the planning of movement and with organisation and planning but can be with auditory, visual and other processing.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Quite possible. This would usually be to do with planning and organisation.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Quite possible. This would usually be to do with planning and organisation.

Autism: Often. May be with auditory, visual, organisation and/or planning.

Aspergers Syndrome: Often. May be with auditory, visual, organisation and/or planning.

Tourette's Syndrome: Possible. This may be to do with planning and organisation. It may also be due to interfering tics (particularly mental ones) and also due to concentrating on suppressing tics.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Possible. This may be to do with planning and organisation. It may also be due to interfering tics (particularly mental ones) and also due to concentrating on suppressing tics.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Possible. This may be to do with planning and organisation. It may also be due to interfering tics (particularly mental ones) and also due to concentrating on suppressing tics.

Transient Tic Disorder: Unlikely. This may be due to interfering tics (particularly mental ones) and also due to concentrating on suppressing tics.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Possible. This may be to do with planning and organisation. It may also be due to interfering obsessions and compulsions and also due to concentrating on suppressing them.

Language Difficulties

Dyslexia: Required for diagnosis. Difficulties in reading, writing and language structure.

Dyspraxia Often. Generally these difficulties are in speech - the person may find it difficult to coordinate their mouth to produce the sounds necessary for speech.

Autism: Generally required for diagnosis. Delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime) or in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others or stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language.

Aspergers: Unlikely, but is possble that some similarities to the language difficulties found in autism are shown.

Coordination Difficulties

Dyspraxia: Required for diagnosis. Difficulties in performing movements and planning sequences of movements. The Person is fairly clumsy.

Dyslexia: Possible. The person may confuse their right and left.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hyperactive-impulsive type): Fairly often. The person is fairly clumsy.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (inattentive type): Fairly often. The person is fairly clumsy.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (combined type): Fairly often. The person is fairly clumsy.

Autism: Fairly often. The person is fairly clumsy.

Aspergers Syndrome: Fairly often. The person is fairly clumsy.

Tourette's Syndrome: Possible. Be careful - do not confuse tics with incoordination.

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Possible. Be careful - do not confuse tics with incoordination.

Chronic Vocal Tic Disorder: Fairly possible.

Transient Tic Disorder: Very unlikely. Be careful - do not confuse tics with incoordination.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Fairly Possible.



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