Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) have certain similarities, but they are different conditions. It is important to understand the distinctions so that people can get the help they need, and not be misdiagnosed.
ASD is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects social interactions, communication, and behavior. Its causes are unknown, but genetics likely plays a role. Risk factors include genetic mutations and environmental factors, such as exposure to air pollution. ASD can range from mild to severe, and is usually identified early in life.
SAD is a type of anxiety disorder that affects an individual's social interactions. It is marked by intense fear, worry, and self-consciousness about being judged by others. It can occur during childhood or adulthood, and may be caused by genetics, life experiences, or both. Symptoms include feelings of intense fear or worry when in social situations, avoiding social situations, feeling like people are watching and judging you, and difficulty making and maintaining relationships.
Though ASD and SAD share some similarities, they are distinct from one another. People may experience both at the same time, but they are not the same. Those with ASD who also suffer from SAD should receive treatment for both conditions. Knowing the differences between the two will help those seeking help get the proper diagnosis and treatment they require.