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The Dance Between Autism and ADHD

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The experience of living as both Autistic and as someone with ADHD is a unique one. The two conditions, both types of neurodivergence, are often considered opposites in a lot of ways. All the while, they have many shared features too.

• What is ADHD?

There are shared social difficulties, sensory challenges, trouble with regulating focus, executive dysfunction, stimming, and more.

At the same time, there are also stark differences.

The average ADHD-er craves multitasking, a lack of routine, and has brief but intense hyperfixations.

The average Autistic is the opposite: needs structure, one thing at a time, and has years-long or lifelong special interests that hardly change but rather grow.

There are countless other examples, but these are some of the basics.

I am certainly a mixture of the two. I would say in my need for structure, routine, and trouble with multitasking are more akin to autism. That said, socially I appear more “ADHD” — I am more visibly hyperactive and daydreamy as well as impulsive (blurting out answers over others). I have Autistic special interests, but often don’t come off as Autistic because of my ability to make eye contact and mask. I also think my ADHD may in itself mask my autism too.

On top of that, I am a mixture of sensory avoidant and sensory seeking, both of which can come with autism, ADHD, or sensory processing disorder alone.

Getty image by westend61

Originally published: March 29, 2023
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