Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a biobehavioral disorder that is chronic and initially presents in childhood. It is mainly illustrated by problems of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity (O'malley, 2008). However, not every individual affected presents with all the three behavioral classifications. These manifestations have been linked with hardship in emotional, social, and academic functioning. ADHD is ranked among the common childhood disorders. ADHD is believed to have an association with other childhood disorders. With this in mind, this paper will critically analyze the association between Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Autism and ADHD. But firstly, FAS and Autism will be defined.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is regarded as a condition that is caused by exposure of alcohol during pregnancy (O'malley, 2008). Alcohol has the potential of bringing about birth defects. This ability positions it as a teratogen in medical terms. Alcohol is currently acknowledged as the foremost teratogen exposed to fetus. A lot of features associated with FAS vary. They might or might not exist in a particular child. On the other hand, the leading and constant features of FAS entail performance, growth, skeleton, head and face, and intelligence of the child (Alcohol Healthwatch New Zealand, 2007). Growth in children with FAS is diminished remarkably. For instance, birth weight is decreased. Their performance is also impaired in that the FAS children are irritable. Intelligence is lessened whereby their IQ is below 50 yet the average IQ ranges in 60s.
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Autism is a childhood disorder characterized by a compound developmental disability. Research shows that the onset of Autism is mainly during the initial three years of an individual's life. This condition comes from a neurological disorder which has a consequence on the function of the normal brain, affecting several development features in a person like skills of social interaction and communication (Kennedy & Banks, 2002). Children with autism always have problems with communication that is non-verbal, a broad spectrum of social interactions, and various activities that entail features of play. Chances are that women who consume alcohol in pregnancy can give birth to autistic babies (Rudy, 2007).
Association between FAS, Autism and ADHD
Researchers for FAS, autism and ADHD argue that they all start within the same biological region; a shortfall in the imperative functions within the frontal lobes (O'malley, 2008). It is established that FAS, autism and ADHD carry a general set of processes and behaviors associated with impairments within the executive functions of the brain. All conditions also have common deficiencies in fine and gross motor skills. Although, it is noted that the medical fraternity does not assess autism when ADHD is diagnosed, usually when there is an increase in demands following a child's admission to school.
There might be several trails to the symptoms of FAS, autism and ADHD coexistence, so there might be dissimilar subsets of FAS, autism and ADHD. The association between autism, FAS and ADHD could be correlated simply because ADHD is found to be a common disorder that affects nearly 11% of children within the general populace. On the other hand, adults who have autism or ADHD have a higher chance of consuming alcohol, thus women who have ADHD and drink alcohol in pregnancy might transmit ADHD to their babies genetically (Kennedy & Banks, 2002). There might be joint etiological trails to ADHD and the FAS behavioral phenotype. Then again, acquired ADHD due to prenatal exposure to alcohol might be as a result of the alcohol effect on the system of dopamine transmitter during development.
Analyzing FAS, Autism and ADHD in Terms of Adaptive Behavior and Executive Function
Adaptive function entails the capacity to fulfill developmentally suitable expectations of an individual social and independence responsibility which includes performance of daily tasks, and adaptation to environmental changes (O'malley, 2008). It is established that adaptive behavior is seemingly affected in FAS, autism and ADHD. A research was conducted to evaluate adaptive behavior on four groups namely, children who have ADHD, autistic children, children who had prenatal exposure to alcohol, and children with normal development. The findings indicated that children with FAS, ADHD and autism had considerably lesser scores on the domain of communication compared to the controls group and, in the group of FAS; age was disapprovingly linked with score (Peadon & Elliot, 2010). On the skills of daily living, children with ADHD, FAS and autism had considerably lesser scores, although FAS children had considerably lower scores compared to other groups.
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Executive function means the superior order process entailed in action and thought led by conscious control, particularly to attain a goal. It entails planning, organized speech, working memory, inhibition, flexible thinking, set-shifting, strategy employment, and fluency (Peadon & Elliot, 2010). The frontal cortex in all probability, mediates the executive function. FAS is thus said to affect development of frontal cortex due to alcohol exposure. Neuropsychologic standards of executive function evaluate planning, organization, inhibition of incorrect responses, working memory, and set-shifting (Peadon & Elliot, 2010). The chief symptoms of attention deficit and behavioral disinhibition in FAS, autism, and ADHD could be linked to executive function problems. There is proof that executive function is the main deficit in ADHD, autism and FAS, and neuroimaging indicates that children with ADHD, FAS and autism might have functional and structural abnormalities within the frontal-subcortical paths, which are the main regions related with executive function.
Regardless of the similarities involving ADHD, FAS and autism, there is a couple of evidence for differentiating between children who have ADHD and the other categories. For instance, by the use of four-factor representation of attention it is established that children who have FAS experience hardships with shift and encoding, while ADHD children have difficulties with concentration and sustain (Kooistra, et al. 2010). Autistic children have difficulties with language. In order to get a clear diagnosis of the condition, it is advisable that various tests be carried out since there is no exclusive test.
Accordingly, there are several disorders associated with childhood particularly ADHD, FAS and autism. Some of these conditions may proceed to adulthood. Comparing behavioral factors connecting FAS, autism and ADHD the three conditions indeed, have an association. However, it is imperative to assess all conditions in a child since they correlate. A diagnosis for whichever condition can solely be established following a complex evaluation where an assortment of information is gathered, particularly from parents. The manifestations must be clear in most areas of the affected child. A single test is not yet documented.