Hyperactive Autism | How To Control It

Discover effective strategies to control hyperactive autism. From behavior intervention to medication options, take charge of symptoms today.

Understanding Autism and ADHD

Autism and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are two distinct neurodevelopmental disorders that can present with overlapping symptoms. While they share some similarities, it's important to recognize the differentiating factors between the two.

Overlapping Symptoms

Children diagnosed with autism may exhibit symptoms that overlap with those seen in ADHD. In fact, over half of children with autism may also display symptoms of ADHD. Some of the shared symptoms include:

  • Inattention: Both individuals with autism and ADHD may struggle with maintaining focus and attention on tasks or activities.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behaviors, such as acting without thinking, interrupting others, or engaging in risky behaviors, can be present in both conditions.
  • Repetitive behaviors: Autistic individuals and those with ADHD may engage in repetitive behaviors like rocking, pacing, or hand-flapping.

Differentiating Factors

While there are overlapping symptoms, there are also important factors that differentiate autism from ADHD. Understanding these differences can help in accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

  • Speech and Language Development: Autistic children may display a delayed development of speech, which is also observed in some children with ADHD. However, in autism, the delay may be more pronounced, and there may be challenges in using and understanding gestures and non-verbal communication.
  • Social Challenges: Social difficulties can be present in both disorders, but the underlying reasons may differ. Autistic individuals may struggle with imitative speech or body language skills, leading to challenges in social interaction. On the other hand, social challenges in ADHD may result from impulsivity or difficulty conforming to group expectations.
  • Misdiagnosis: Due to the overlapping symptoms, it is possible for a child with autism to be misdiagnosed with ADHD, and vice versa. Accurate diagnosis requires careful evaluation by healthcare professionals who are experienced in distinguishing between the two disorders [1].

Recognizing the similarities and differences between autism and ADHD is crucial for effective diagnosis and management. A comprehensive evaluation by healthcare professionals can help determine the most appropriate interventions and support for individuals with these conditions.

Managing Aggression in Autism

Aggression is a commonly reported challenge faced by parents of children and adolescents with autism. In many cases, aggressive behavior serves as a means of communication for individuals who may have limited speech abilities [2]. Understanding and effectively managing aggression is essential for creating a safe and supportive environment. This section will explore two key aspects of managing aggression in autism: identifying triggers and behavior intervention approaches.

Identifying Triggers

Addressing underlying problems and identifying triggers is crucial in reducing aggressive behaviors in individuals with autism. Several factors can contribute to aggression, including disturbances in routine, lack of sleep, sensory stimuli, or undiagnosed mental health issues [2]. By identifying and addressing these triggers, it is possible to minimize aggressive behaviors.

It is important for caregivers, educators, and healthcare professionals to work together to observe and identify patterns in behavior. By keeping detailed records of the situations and circumstances surrounding instances of aggression, potential triggers can be identified. This information can then be used to develop strategies and interventions tailored to the individual's needs.

Behavior Intervention Approaches

Behavior intervention approaches, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), have been found to be effective in managing and preventing aggressive behaviors in individuals with autism. ABA focuses on teaching individuals new behaviors and skills, reducing the need for aggression as a means of communication.

Prevention strategies play a vital role in managing aggression in individuals with autism. Creating calming, predictable, and rewarding environments can help reduce stress and the likelihood of aggressive outbursts. Visual timetables, structured schedules, and the use of positive reinforcement for desired behaviors can also contribute to a more positive and predictable environment. Additionally, providing individuals with communication tools, such as visual aids or assistive technology, can help them express their needs and frustrations effectively.

By implementing behavior intervention approaches and prevention strategies, caregivers and professionals can support individuals with autism in managing their aggression and creating a more harmonious and safe environment. It is important to tailor interventions to the specific needs and preferences of each individual, as what works for one person may not work for another. Regular evaluation and adjustment of strategies may be necessary to ensure continued progress in managing aggression effectively.

Medication Options for Autism

While non-drug treatments are generally the first line of treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) due to their effectiveness in addressing core symptoms (Source), medication may play a role in managing certain comorbidities and related symptoms such as irritability and aggression. Two medications commonly prescribed for these symptoms in individuals with autism are Risperidone and Aripiprazole.

Risperidone and Aripiprazole

Risperidone and Aripiprazole are antipsychotic medications that have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of irritability associated with autism, including aggression, tantrums, and self-injury. These medications can be beneficial in reducing problematic behaviors in children with autism when combined with parent training in behavior intervention.

It's important to note that these medications are not designed to target the core symptoms of autism. However, they can help manage certain behavioral challenges that individuals with autism may experience. Regular monitoring is crucial when using these medications due to potential adverse effects.


Risperidone is an atypical antipsychotic medication that has shown efficacy in reducing aggression, irritability, and self-injurious behaviors in individuals with autism. It works by affecting certain chemicals in the brain that may contribute to these behaviors.


Aripiprazole is another atypical antipsychotic medication that has been approved for treating irritability associated with autism. It also works by modulating certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

It's important to work closely with a healthcare professional experienced in treating individuals with autism to determine the appropriate medication and dosage for each individual. They will consider factors such as the severity of symptoms, overall health, and potential side effects when making these decisions.

Controversies and Considerations

The use of medication in treating autism-related symptoms, including irritability and aggression, remains a topic of controversy. While medication can provide relief for some individuals, concerns have been raised about the potential overuse or misuse of these medications. It is important to approach medication as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other non-drug interventions, such as behavioral therapies.

When considering medication options, it is crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks and side effects. Regular monitoring and open communication with healthcare professionals are essential to ensure the medication's effectiveness and address any concerns that may arise.

It is worth noting that medication should not be viewed as a "cure" for autism, as it does not directly target the core symptoms of the disorder. Instead, it can be used to manage specific symptoms and improve overall quality of life for individuals with autism and their families.

Co-Occurrence of Autism and ADHD

Autism and ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) are neurodevelopmental disorders that can often co-occur in individuals. Understanding the shared characteristics and the challenges related to diagnosis is essential in providing appropriate support and interventions.

Shared Characteristics

Individuals diagnosed with either ADHD or autism often share overlapping or similar symptoms, such as inattention, impulsivity, and repetitive behaviors like rocking or pacing [1]. These similarities can make it challenging to differentiate between the two conditions, especially in children.

Delayed speech development is a common characteristic in both autism and ADHD, with over half of children with autism also exhibiting symptoms of ADHD. However, it is important to note that social challenges in autism may stem from a lack of imitative speech or body language skills, while social challenges in ADHD may result from issues like impulsivity or difficulty conforming to group expectations.

Diagnosis Challenges

Diagnosing autism and ADHD can be complex, particularly when they co-occur. The overlapping symptoms and the potential for misdiagnosis make it crucial for healthcare professionals to conduct thorough assessments. It is possible for a child with autism to be misdiagnosed with ADHD, and vice versa, due to the similarities between the two disorders [1].

To accurately diagnose co-occurring autism and ADHD, a comprehensive evaluation is necessary. This evaluation may include a thorough medical history review, observations of behavior, interviews with parents or caregivers, and assessments using standardized tools.

Healthcare professionals should consider the individual's developmental history, social communication skills, and behavioral patterns in different environments to differentiate between autism and ADHD. Collaboration between professionals from different disciplines, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and speech therapists, can help provide a more accurate diagnosis.

Understanding the shared characteristics and the challenges related to diagnosing co-occurring autism and ADHD is crucial in guiding appropriate interventions and support strategies. By recognizing these overlapping factors, healthcare professionals can provide tailored treatment plans that address the specific needs of individuals with both conditions.

Treatment Strategies for Co-Occurring Symptoms

When addressing co-occurring symptoms of hyperactive autism, it is important to consider both pharmacological interventions and psychosocial approaches. These strategies aim to manage and alleviate the challenges associated with hyperactivity and other symptoms that may arise from the combination of autism and ADHD.

Pharmacological Interventions

Pharmacological interventions can play a role in reducing symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity in individuals with co-occurring autism and ADHD. Stimulant and non-stimulant medications have shown effectiveness in reducing these symptoms, although response rates may be lower compared to individuals with ADHD alone.

It is essential to work closely with a healthcare professional who specializes in neurodevelopmental disorders to determine the most appropriate medication and dosage for an individual with hyperactive autism. The healthcare professional will consider various factors, such as the severity of symptoms, potential side effects, and the individual's overall health.

Psychosocial Approaches

Psychosocial interventions are another important aspect of treatment for co-occurring symptoms. These approaches focus on improving social skills, enhancing executive functioning, and addressing cognitive impairments associated with hyperactive autism and ADHD.

Since individuals with co-occurring symptoms may have a unique cognitive profile, with greater overall cognitive impairments and poor executive control, psychosocial interventions should be tailored to their specific needs. These interventions may include techniques from both ADHD and autism interventions to effectively target social skill competencies and deficiencies.

It is important to note that psychosocial approaches may need to be combined with medication for more comprehensive and effective treatment. Working with therapists, educators, and other professionals who specialize in autism and ADHD can provide guidance and support in implementing these interventions.

By combining pharmacological interventions with psychosocial approaches, individuals with hyperactive autism can receive holistic and individualized treatment. It is crucial to consult with healthcare professionals and specialists who can develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the specific needs of each individual. Regular monitoring and evaluation of treatment effectiveness are also essential to ensure ongoing support and adjustments as necessary.

Alternative Therapies for Autism

When it comes to managing hyperactive autism, there are various alternative therapies available that aim to complement traditional treatments. One such category is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), which includes a range of practices and treatments that are used alongside conventional approaches.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasingly common for individuals with autism, with estimates suggesting that up to 50-75% of children with autism may be treated with CAM therapies. CAM treatments for autism fall into different categories, including biologically-based practices and manipulative and body-based practices.

Biologically-based practices encompass a wide range of treatments, including dietary supplements, herbal remedies, and other natural products. These treatments are often used to address specific symptoms or deficiencies associated with autism. For instance, vitamin supplements such as B6 and magnesium have been popular treatments for autism; however, the evidence supporting their use is not adequate.

Manipulative and body-based practices involve therapies that focus on physical manipulation and movement. Examples include chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, and acupuncture. While some individuals with autism may find these therapies beneficial in terms of relaxation and sensory integration, further research is needed to fully understand their effectiveness in managing hyperactive autism.

Effectiveness and Controversies

The effectiveness of alternative therapies for hyperactive autism remains a subject of debate and ongoing research. While some individuals and families report positive effects from certain alternative treatments, it is important to approach these therapies with caution and consult with healthcare professionals.

Several alternative therapies have been extensively studied to evaluate their effectiveness in managing hyperactive autism. Here are some notable examples:

  • Melatonin: Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep, has shown clinical benefit in improving sleep onset and maintenance in individuals with autism. It has demonstrated a large effect size in small randomized trials with minimal reported side effects.
  • Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GF/CF) Diet: The GF/CF diet involves the elimination of gluten and casein proteins from the diet. While some parents report subjective improvements in behavior, objective improvements in language or behavior have not been identified in double-blind trials.

It is important to note that the use of alternative therapies should be approached with caution and in consultation with healthcare professionals. What works for one individual may not work for another, and the evidence supporting the effectiveness of these therapies may vary. It is crucial to consider the individual needs and circumstances of each person with hyperactive autism when exploring alternative therapies.

While alternative therapies may offer additional options for managing hyperactive autism, they should always be used in conjunction with evidence-based treatments and under the guidance of healthcare professionals. Ongoing research and open dialogue between healthcare providers, individuals with autism, and their families are key to navigating the complexities and controversies surrounding alternative therapies for hyperactive autism.


[1]: https://www.verywellhealth.com/autism-vs-adhd-5213000

[2]: https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-and-aggression

[3]: https://childmind.org/article/autism-and-medication/

[4]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10092654/

[5]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441928/

[6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597185/