Autism and Process Addictions

Autism and Process Addictions

Autism may result in preoccupation with activities like video games

According to the Autism Speaks website, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a term used for a group of brain development disorders. These disorders are characterized by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. The repetitive behaviors associated with autism can range from repetitive movements to activities, like collecting or hoarding things. Children and adults with ASD often have symptoms that complicate their situations, and they are often treated for depression, anxiety and other disorders. ASD treatment methods teach people to communicate and to be comfortable in social situations, but the repetitive behaviors of autism can sometimes be mistaken for a process addiction. Understanding the difference between the two issues can help people determine the best course of treatment for ASD.

Symptoms of ASD

The symptoms of ASD vary from person to person, but everyone with autism tends to suffer in the following areas:

  • Social interaction and relationships—These issues include the inability to develop nonverbal communication skills (such as eye-to-eye contact, facial expressions and body posture), difficulty making friends with peer, lack of interest in other people’s achievements, lack of empathy and difficulty understanding the feelings of others
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication—People with ASD may have delays in learning to talk, difficulty in starting and continuing conversations, difficulty understanding a listener’s perspective and repetitive use of language
  • Limited interest in activities or play—Includes an unusual focus on pieces of things (like wheels rather than the entire car), preoccupation with topics (like video games, trading cards or license plates) and a need for routine

The symptoms of autism are usually noticed within the first three years of life by parents or other caregivers.

Process Addiction Symptoms

Process addictions are repetitive behaviors that serve as coping mechanisms for trauma or pain. These behaviors may include the following problems:

  • Gambling
  • Codependency
  • Self-harm (cutting, hair pulling, burning and etc.)
  • Internet addiction
  • Gaming addiction

A process addiction usually results from some type of trauma, so parents, caregivers and other loved ones must recognize the differences between signs of it and ASD. ASD is normally identified before the age of three, whereas process addictions usually manifest themselves in teenagers or adults. Process addictions can also be linked to trauma, whereas ASD is diagnosed based on a set of developmental and behavioral criteria. People with ASD may appear to have a process addiction, but those symptoms are more likely symptoms of the disorder rather than the addiction.

Find Help for Process Addiction and ASD

Understanding the difference between ASD and process addictions is the only way to determine the kind of treatment that someone needs. If you or a loved one struggles with process addiction and ASD, then our admissions coordinators can help you get and stay clean. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline right now to speak to an admissions coordinator about treatment options.