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 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 definitely doesn’t have autism. Nevertheless, his ADHD manifests many traits that some take into account autistic.


Clearly, not each individual with ADHD will exhibit traits related to autism — and whereas “as much as 1 / 4 of kids with ADHD have low-level indicators of ASD, which could embrace having issue with social abilities or being very delicate to clothes textures, for instance,” sharing some traits with autism isn’t 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 are able to maintain going now.

How Our ADHD Typically Appears Like Autism

Like 10 to twenty p.c 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 folks’s social cues, facial expressions, and gestures, all the best way right 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 identical time on daily basis.

[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 would not have autism. I’d by no means declare to have autism. That may 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 advised him, “You’re going to turn out to be a podcast if you happen to do that once more.”

I even have hassle with “social emotional reciprocity,” which is a extremely fancy means of claiming that I interrupt folks quite a bit; I monologue; and I’ve hassle with peopling on the whole. 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 folks with ADHD present traits related to autism. A current examine of kids with ADHD and kids with autism discovered that “youngsters with irregular white matter nerve bundles usually tend to reveal 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.

Figuring out 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 a minimum of, 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 at all times 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 achieved it for a decade now. If I don’t get up and write at 5, the day feels unusual and incorrect. 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 information has additionally helped me perceive that my occasional meltdowns are sensory overload. There’s a stable neurological motive 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 motion pictures; my husband thinks that movies ought to shake the foundations. I’ve usually stopped on our stairs, regarded on the TV display, and turned proper round once more.

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

Typically, 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 loads of time and remedy. Figuring out 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. But it surely factors me in an essential route; it helps me to know why I do what I do, and as a neurodivergent individual, 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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