- February 14, 2021

During our clinical work with the 0-5 population, important factors that clinical psychologists, behavior-developmental pediatricians, early childhood mental health specialists always take a deep look at are the overlapping symptoms between the 3 diagnoses:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

These diagnoses seem not really related to each other; however, they indeed carry many overlapping symptoms: such as, lack of interest in peers, difficulties concentrating and learning in school, easily distracted, hyperactive, difficult sleeping, failure to share emotions, repetitive play, outburst…

This post mainly focuses on PTSD and ADHD


If you and your family have recently gone through a new chapter in life, such as moving, separation, or divorce. There is a very high chance that your child knows about it and wants to talk about it. They may exhibit symptoms such as hyperactive, disorganized, restless, difficult sleeping…

Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics have confirmed that a child’s brain structure is significantly influenced by their experiences during the first few years of life. Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is the evidence- based treatment for children aged 0-6 who have experienced trauma. This treatment focuses on safety, affect regulation, improving the child-caregiver relationship, normalization of trauma related response.

If your child has experienced severe stressful events, you are the legal guardian of your child and your family is a Vietnamese low-income household, I can help! Please register here.


If your child presents attention deficit or hyperactivity symptoms that present in at least TWO different environments, your family hasn’t gone through any new life chapters, and your child is in good health and hasn’t witnessed any traumatic events within 2 months, behavior therapy is recommended as the very first line for managing ADHD symptoms.

The clinical practice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that behavior therapy is the first line of treatment for preschool-aged children with ADHD. Behavior therapy is an important first step and has been shown to work as well as medication.

The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) conducted a review in 2010 of all existing studies on treatment options for children younger than 6 years of age. The review found enough evidence to recommend parent training in behavior therapy as a good treatment option for children under 6 with ADHD symptoms and for disruptive behavior, in general.

The review also identified four programs for parents of young children with ADHD that reduced symptoms and problem behaviors related to ADHD:

  • Triple P (Positive Parenting Program)
  • Incredible Years Parenting Program
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
  • New Forest Parenting Program

Both CPP and behavior training requires active participation from parents. Remember, understanding about the right treatment is key. Feel free to drop me a question, I will try to answer to the best of my knowledge.

Mimi Thuong


The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Differential Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Two Clinical Cases, (Stavropoulos, Bolourian, Blacher, 2018).