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  • The Neurodivergent Therapy Space

Contradictions Between ADHD and Autism

Updated: Jan 12

Autism and ADHD (auDHD) have many things in common but sometimes there are contradictions between the two and these contradictions can severely impact someone's mental well-being. It is more likely that someone who is autistic and ADHD will experience increased levels of judgment from others due to these contradictions.

People can often hold the perception that they are being lied to because what is being said doesn't match up with the behaviours displayed. Actually what is going on in the mind of an auDHDer is a huge internal battle with often conflicting, confusing and upsetting/ distressing feelings.

A few examples of these are:

Autism says " I have to be exactly on time to the minute otherwise it will cause me extreme distress and could lead to a meltdown."

ADHD says "I have no concept of time, I can fit 33 tasks in before I have to leave the house in 1 minute."

Autism says "Rest before you burn out."

ADHD says "do this, do that, look at this, look at that, oooo a dog, research dogs, research dog breeds, research dog toys, oooo a lamp, I need a new lamp, research lamps..." and so on.

Autism says "I can't deal with loud noises, busy places or people speaking to me."

ADHD says "I need stimulation, I'm bored, I can't keep still, do SOMETHING, see SOMEONE, go SOMEWHERE!"

It's common for auDHD people to respond to requests on impulse... this can be the ADHD part of the brain, so they may initially say yes to something and seem really enthusiastic about it. However, after having the chance to process what they just said yes to, the autism part suddenly realises that this is new, this is different, this is change and a whole wave of anxiety kicks in. This anxiety will usually go on until they cancel whatever it is they said yes to.

For me, I used to have a habit of saying yes to meeting people or going out socialising in the evenings, this always caused huge levels of anxiety that I either pushed through to the detriment of my own well-being or cancelled and then felt guilty for cancelling. I am much better now at being able to stop myself from automatically saying yes and I generally have a better understanding of what I can and can't manage. But these challenges are real and can cause a lot of distress.

Many auDHD people also have a constant battle to people please in order to fit in and so this can also lead them to say yes to gain approval from others even if this causes high levels of distress.

Establishing what you can and can't manage is the best way for you to find a healthy balance and let go of the guilt you hold when saying no to someone.

Always bear in mind, how someone else feels about what you are or are not willing to do, is NOT your responsibility. Be kind to yourself, put adaptations in place to support YOU and if that's binge-watching the same films over and over again, then that is absolutely what you do! :)

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