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updated:   05 - 15 - 15


The Attention Disorder & Related Disorders Clinic

Dr. Janice Ann Hughes MA, MSW, LCSW, ED.D.


(239) 549-29440









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Symptoms/Characteristics of  AD/HD and Bipolar often Mimic Each Other. Asperger's Disorder may also have bipolar features.  Asperger's often travels with AD/HD.  Bipolar Disorder exhibited in Children is known as Early Onset Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. It is mood oriented.  AD/HD is more behavioral.  These can be confused and misdiagnosis can occur. Also, they can go hand-in-hand.

 AD/HD with Bipolar features 

 Untreated AD/HD created PTSD

 Bipolar Disorder with AD/HD features

 Asperger's with AD/HD features


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AD/HD or (ADD) Symptoms or Characteristics:

Symptom 1:  Inattention, distractibility, confusion, disorganization, sloppy, poor penmanship, careless,   makes errors, often rushes through tasks

Symptom 2:  Inability to complete tasks, doesn't work up to ability, messy, starts but doesn't finish feelings of boredom or loneliness, suicidal ideations, broken promises

Symptom 3:  Difficulty maintaining relationships, self-centered, oppositionally defiant, argumentative, noncompliant, abuse and infidelity issues, divorce

Symptom 4:  Easily bored, seeks novelty, excitement, 'risk-taker,' experiments with illegal substances to 'get high' or to mask depression or to avoid responsibility

 Symptom 5:  Frequent errors, accident prone, into 'trouble' due to impulsivity, delinquent behavior, court involvement

Symptom 6:  Restless, bored easily, always on the go as if driven by a motor, has to move, hyperactive   

Symptom 7:  Doesn't listen, interrupts, mind races, thinking of other things, distractible, perseverates, obsesses, blurts out without thinking, rambles, rants and raves                    

Symptom 8:  Issues with rules, boundaries, intrusive, impulsive,  superimposing, bold, self-serving, doesn't accept limits well, lacks self-discipline, does what he/she wants regardless of consequences

Symptom 9:  Can't concentrate but can focus on what is important to him/her (selective focusing), easily distracted, inattentive, focus lability problems [inconsistent, i.e., can sometimes, other times cannot]

Symptom 10:  School learning difficulties, school failure, grade retention, referral for special education evaluation, placement in special education [emotionally impaired and/or learning disability programs], vocational / work related problems, job hopping, issues with unemployment

Symptom 11:  Jumps from task-to-task, forgetful, does not put away materials, tools, toys, belongings, ruins/damages materials

Symptom 12:  Experimental, thrill seeker, likes speed, takes risks, traffic infractions, hangs with irresponsible, social misfits, likes to hang with older crowd, gang involvement

Symptom 13:  Broken promises, scams, manipulates, dishonest, cavalier, 'bites off more than he/she can chew', expansive, inflated self-esteem, flamboyant, 'wild and crazy' behaviors

Symptom 14:  Moody, unpredictable behavior, critical of others, blames, anger, rages, overly silly, talkative, pressured speech, rambles on and on, grandiose thinking

Symptom 15:  Overspending, gambling, foolish spending patterns, loses money [e.g. left in pockets, careless or unsecured placement of bills]

symptom 16:  Insomnia, may go a day or two [sometimes more] without or very little sleep

Symptom 17: Poor driving habits, speeding tickets, moving traffic violations, motor vehicle accidents, DUIs

Symptom 18: Drinks to 'calm nerves,' avoid tasks, and/or responsibilities.  May develop alcohol abuse or dependency disorder [dual-diagnosis]


        Together We Learn 


  Symptoms/Characteristics of Depression & AD/HD (ADD) Can and Do Often Mimic Each Other

Symptom 1:  Inattention/ distractibility, confusion, disorganization, feeling tired, anergic [loss of energy], anhedonia [loss of interest in having fun or doing pleasurable things]

Symptom 2:  Daydreaming, off in another world, "space cadet," obsesses, tunes out, i.e., may not be listening

Symptom 3:  Problems with organization, may be overfocused, overly neat / compulsive which takes too much time, loses track of time, procrastinates, forgets to pay bills, "running behind" and usually late, forgets promises

Symptom 4:  Gives-up easily, avoids confrontation, denies problems, makes excuses and promises, unable to meet deadlines, "pie in the sky" ideas, unrealistic, "dreamer".

symptom 5:  Starts but often cannot finish projects, wanders from task to task [often leaving a trail of unfinished projects], makes careless mistakes

symptom 6:  Problems with reading comprehension, easily bored, avoid reading, spelling deficiencies

symptom 7:  May overfocus, reads all of the time and does little else, may lean toward an introvert personality

Symptom 8:  Slow to process information, may not process in an entirety, confused, poor at receiving directions 

Symptom 9:  Forgetful, mind wanders, can't stay focused, poor assignment completion

Symptom 9:  Often isolated, avoidant, sad, lonely

Symptom 10:  Slow to finish task, can't get started

Symptom 11:  Hypersomnia, can't get up and get moving, feels tired, anergic, anhedonia, feeling sad and lonely

Symptom 12:  Weight changes: overeating, gaining weight or loss of appetite [anorexia], losing weight

Symptom 13:  Indecisive, noncommittal

Symptom 14:  Can't begin tasks, cannot sustain focus, doesn't finish tasks, disorganized, poor penmanship, works too slowly

Symptom 15:  Feels guilty, hypersensivity, suicidal ideation, may have history of rejection and/or abandonment 


Symptoms/Characteristics of  AD/HD (ADD)  with Bipolar Disorder or vice versa:

A child, adolescent, or adult with predominately AD/HD symptoms noted above with Bipolar Disorder features will present with mood instability, mood swings, mood shifts, intensivity, driven emotionality, etc.  This category sees overlapping of both disorders.  They often manifest manipulative, demanding behaviors with invincibility [no fear of consequences] and impulsivity. Because Bipolars often have their own agendas (self-centered) they are driven to achieve what it is that they want even in an impulsive manner. They also are selective in their focus, i.e., can attend to what interests them but cannot follow what doesn't, which is a part of the AD/HD. Refer to Bipolar Disorder symptoms and characteristics elsewhere.    


Symptoms of Asperger's Disorder (Syndrome)
bulletaverage or above average intelligence
bulletdifficulty forming relationships / friendships
bulletpreference for playing alone
bulletplays with older or younger children or prefers adult company
bulletability to verbalize, talks well...often too much or too little
bulletpoor eye contact
bulletsometimes flat affect
bulletinability to understand that communication involves listening as well as talking
bulletinability to think in abstract ways
bulleta literal understanding of what has been said, for example, when asked to 'get lost' as in go away, one with AS will become confused and may literally get lost.
bulletdifficulty understanding the rules of social behavior
bulletdoes not pick up on others' feelings...not able to 'read' body language
bullettrouble empathizing
bulletbehavior can vary from mildly unusual to odd
bulletmay be aggressive and difficult to control behaviorally
bullethas rules of their own.... may engage in rituals and may insist that all family members follow or conform to them
bulletshows aggression, anger when things do not go their way
bulletdifficulty controlling anger
bullet manifestations of anxiety
bullet sensitivity to criticism
bulletrepetitive activities (obsession) ritualistic 
bullet specialized interest, activities, hobbies
bulletresists change
bulletmay have some motor coordination problems
bulletsome have posture / gait different form peers appearing odd... standing out as different
bulletlacks social friends of own age... loner
bulletmay lack 'common sense'
bulletoften has narrow range of interests with strong likes and dislikes
bulletanxiety related to low self-esteem is a major hitch hiker onto AS
bulletsome with AS are very egotistical, arrogant and chauvinistic...

These individuals with Asperger's Disorder can find their way in life because they are usually highly intelligent and find vocations which match their temperament, personality, sociability, and activity. Many avoid crowds and do not socialize well at parties, family gatherings, and other people-oriented functions. They may be loners.  Some are considered odd, strange, different...








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