Background: Individuals with co-occurring hyperactivity disorder/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have complex presentations that may complicate diagnosis and treatment. There are established guidelines with regard to the identification and treatment of ADHD and ASD as independent conditions. However, ADHD and ASD were not formally recognised diagnostically as co-occurring conditions until the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) was published in 2013. Hence, awareness and understanding of both conditions when they co-occur is less established and there is little guidance in the clinical literature. This has led to uncertainty among healthcare practitioners when working with children, young people and adults who present with co-existing ADHD and ASD. The United Kingdom ADHD Partnership (UKAP) therefore convened a meeting of professional experts that aimed to address this gap and reach expert consensus on the topic that will aid healthcare practitioners and allied professionals when working with this complex and vulnerable population. Method: UK experts from multiple disciplines in the fields of ADHD and ASD convened in London in December 2017. The meeting provided the opportunity to address the complexities of ADHD and ASD as a co-occurring presentation from different perspectives and included presentations, discussion and group work. The authors considered the clinical challenges of working with this complex group of individuals, producing a consensus for a unified approach when working with male and female, children, adolescents and adults with co-occurring ADHD and ASD. This was written up, circulated and endorsed by all authors. Results: The authors reached a consensus of practical recommendations for working across the lifespan with males and females with ADHD and ASD. Consensus was reached on topics of (1) identification and assessment using rating scales, clinical diagnostic interviews and objective supporting assessments; outcomes of assessment, including standards of clinical reporting; (2) non-pharmacological interventions and care management, including psychoeducation, carer interventions/carer training, behavioural/environmental and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches; and multi-agency liaison, including educational interventions, career advice, occupational skills and training, and (3) pharmacological treatments. Conclusions: The guidance and practice recommendations (Tables 1, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10) will support healthcare practitioners and allied professionals to meet the needs of this complex group from a multidisciplinary perspective. Further research is needed to enhance our understanding of the diagnosis, treatment and management of individuals presenting with comorbid ADHD and ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2020


  • Assessment
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Comorbidity
  • Consensus
  • Education
  • Guidance
  • hyperactivity disorder/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Interventions
  • Occupation
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • School
  • Treatment


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