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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.

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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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