Autism Traits in Adults with ADHD: Fixations, Routines, Stimming

My husband as soon as defined to me, in pain-staking element, why J. R. R. Tolkien excised each French phrase from The Lord of the Rings saga, right down to swapping “Bag’s Finish” for the French-derived “cul-de-sac.” The reason lasted 45 minutes; I do know as a result of I counted every one. My husband owns a number of copies of each Tolkien ebook ever written, and most authoritative texts on his life and works. Point out Denethor in passing (one way or the other, it’s occurred), and he’ll ask, “Do you imply the Steward of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings, or the tenth Steward of Gondor, or the elf?”

His psychology professor as soon as instructed him, “You’re not on the [autism] spectrum. However you’re not not on the spectrum.” In different phrases, my husband has ADHD, which was identified late in life; he actually doesn’t have autism. Nevertheless, his ADHD manifests many traits that some contemplate autistic.


Clearly, not each particular person with ADHD will exhibit traits related to autism — and whereas “as much as 1 / 4 of youngsters with ADHD have low-level indicators of ASD, which could embrace having issue with social expertise or being very delicate to clothes textures, for instance,” sharing some traits with autism will not be the identical as having autism. I’ll repeat it for the folks within the again: my husband doesn’t have autism. Claiming a neurodiversity you don’t have is gross.

We will maintain going now.

How Our ADHD Generally Seems Like Autism

Like 10 to twenty % of individuals with ADHD, my husband has been identified with dyscalculia, a studying distinction associated to math. By his personal admission, he masks, or imitates different folks’s social cues, facial expressions, and gestures, all the way in which right down to handshakes. He “fixates on particular pursuits” (clearly, Tolkien) and, regardless of his ADHD, he tends towards a inflexible schedule during which he vastly prefers that the identical issues occur on the identical time day by day.

[Self Test: Autism Test for Adults]

I’ve additionally been identified with ADHD, and like my husband, I exhibit many traits related to autism (no, I would not have autism. I’d by no means declare to have autism. That will be gross and deeply offensive to my associates with autism or who self-identify as autistic). Like my husband, I masks. I have a tendency towards fixations: The Magicians, which I used to live-tweet. As soon as, my husband made vanilla espresso within the morning. I glared over my mug and instructed him, “You’re going to develop into a podcast in the event you do that once more.”

I even have bother with “social emotional reciprocity,” which is a extremely fancy manner of claiming that I interrupt folks loads; I monologue; and I’ve bother with peopling basically. I stim: do you know that obsessive cuticle-picking counts? I didn’t. I even have bother with sensory overload and would fortunately eat my husband’s vegetarian chili each single night time for the remainder of my life.

The ADHD-Autism Connection

It shouldn’t come as a shock that two folks with ADHD present traits related to autism. A latest examine of youngsters with ADHD and kids with autism discovered that “youngsters with irregular white matter nerve bundles usually tend to show extra extreme signs of both ADHD or ASD.” Mind scans confirmed that “structural abnormalities within the brains’ white matter nerve bundles had been related to extra extreme signs of each ADHD and ASD,” and these buildings had been associated to the a part of the mind associated to communication.

Understanding these commonalities are regular offshoots of ADHD has helped us each tremendously. It’s that very same lightbulb: “Oh, I’m not [insert negative self-talk that’s been drummed into me by years of people judging my behavior]!” Each my husband and I had been identified as adults, and it’s deeply reassuring, for me no less than, to know that my tendency towards unusual fixations is 100% regular for my neurodivergent mind.

[Read: The ADHD Brain – Neuroscience Behind Attention Deficit Disorder]

“Oh my gosh, how do you get up each single day at 5 am and write?” folks all the time ask me. Then their faces drop into confusion. “Wait,” they’ll say. “You imply you do it on weekends, too?” I by no means knew what to say, as a result of I merely do it; I’ve completed it for a decade now. If I don’t get up and write at 5, the day feels unusual and unsuitable. I lastly perceive why. My ADHD mind insists on that each day sameness—a sameness usually wanted, to a larger diploma, by folks with autism.

This data has additionally helped me perceive that my occasional meltdowns are sensory overload. There’s a strong neurological purpose why my son’s incessant clicking noise may drive me over the sting, and why a brotherly shove or shout may ship me fleeing. I hate loud films; my husband thinks that movies ought to shake the foundations. I’ve usually stopped on our stairs, appeared on the TV display screen, and turned proper round once more.

Now he understands why that occurs and why, after I seem, he has to show it down.

Generally, it looks as if childhood was one lengthy stretch of the world shouting that I used to be bizarre, and maturity has been a protracted street of realizations that wait, no, I’m not bizarre—and neither am I [insert negative self-talk about laziness, spaciness, time-management, messiness, a need for sameness, etc.]. Unwinding these ugly beliefs has taken plenty of time and remedy. Understanding that my ADHD can manifest traits related to autism has handed me one other piece in that puzzle.

Life makes a lot extra sense. I’m not the bizarre child anymore. I’m an individual whose ADHD shares some traits with autism. Perhaps it appears small. However it factors me in an essential path; it helps me to grasp why I do what I do, and as a neurodivergent particular person, higher methods to deal with a world designed for neurotypical folks.

Rating one for the previous bizarre child.

Autism Traits in Adults with ADHD: Subsequent Steps

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