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, all the way 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 e book 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 advised 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 recognized late in life; he actually doesn’t have autism. Nevertheless, his ADHD manifests many traits that some take into account 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 just isn’t the identical as having autism. I’ll repeat it for the individuals within the again: my husband doesn’t have autism. Claiming a neurodiversity you don’t have is gross.

We are able to preserve going now.

How Our ADHD Generally Seems Like Autism

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

[Self Test: Autism Test for Adults]

I’ve additionally been recognized with ADHD, and like my husband, I exhibit many traits related to autism (no, I wouldn’t have autism. I might by no means declare to have autism. That might be gross and deeply offensive to my mates 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 advised him, “You’re going to grow to be a podcast if you happen to do that once more.”

I even have hassle with “social emotional reciprocity,” which is a very fancy manner of claiming that I interrupt individuals rather a lot; I monologue; and I’ve hassle with peopling usually. I stim: do you know that obsessive cuticle-picking counts? I didn’t. I even have hassle 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 individuals with ADHD present traits related to autism. A latest examine of youngsters with ADHD and youngsters 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 constructions 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 recognized as adults, and it’s deeply reassuring, for me at the least, 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?” individuals 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 executed it for a decade now. If I don’t get up and write at 5, the day feels unusual and mistaken. I lastly perceive why. My ADHD mind insists on that each day sameness—a sameness usually wanted, to a larger diploma, by individuals with autism.

This information has additionally helped me perceive that my occasional meltdowns are sensory overload. There’s a stable neurological cause why my son’s incessant clicking noise would possibly drive me over the sting, and why a brotherly shove or shout would possibly ship me fleeing. I hate loud films; my husband thinks that movies ought to shake the foundations. I’ve usually stopped on our stairs, seemed 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 like childhood was one lengthy stretch of the world shouting that I used to be bizarre, and maturity has been an extended 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 numerous 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. Possibly it appears small. However it factors me in an essential route; it helps me to know why I do what I do, and as a neurodivergent particular person, higher methods to deal with a world designed for neurotypical individuals.

Rating one for the previous bizarre child.

Autism Traits in Adults with ADHD: Subsequent Steps

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