ADHD, and autism. How do y’all notice the difference?

Hello!

I have a big question for the ones who have ADHD and also autism of some sorts. How do y’all distinguish the difference between your ADHD and autism symptoms.

I’m fed up with being told I’m “too social” to have autism without being tested. Cause I absolutely feel that the biggest reason I’m such a positive, open and happy person is because of my ADHD. And that obviously also shows when I socialize. But still, I simply want to be tested.

The thing is; I’m always the last person to understand a joke. As much as I’m very sympathetic and empathetic (which comes from a combination from life experiences at a young age as well as my ADHD), reading body language is the most difficult thing in the world for me. I very often misunderstand things, take them litteraly, or just misread someone making me insecure and unsure how someone is feeling. Even in a working relationship and personal relationship I find it difficult to understand the difference between the two and tend to take everything personally. I also have the “lack of interest” in others. You won’t easily catch me asking questions like: what’s your favorite color? What kinda job or education do you do? Because I simply 1: don’t care. I also hate when people ask me those questions. 2: I just hate normal conversations like that. I prefer deep conversations with meaning, like the ones I always have with my mom or my boyfriend. So I basically show little interest in people. I will occasionally ask people close to me how their day was or how they slept. But that’s more out of kindness most of the time. I’m not really interested a lot of times. When my bf talks about his work after I asked it’s tough to listen cause I don’t care, but I will cause I know it’s important to ask questions like that. My mom always taught me that and I can tell that it was important cause I missed when didn’t she asked for it when I came home from school or I was just home alone. But I only do that with people close to me. Sometimes I also find it difficult to react accordingly to the situation while socializing. I’m just gonna call out a big example: when the Malaysia airplane crashed in 2014. There was a girl in that plane that I had personally known years prior, so that hit close to home. But I remember I was at this forum just asking “in appropriate” questions. Really I was just very interested in the whole crash from a more scientific perspective. What happened to the plane? How did the bodies react to being thrown out of the plane and falling etc? Even if it was more personal and I did feel sad, I just didn’t know how else to react but to the feelings I had towards it: interests. With the terrorist attack in France in 2015(?) it was the same thing. I was just interested in what went on in the mind of these terrorist and why they would do such thing and how the people who experienced it would react. Of course it’s horrible that these things happen. That’s not my point. But I don’t react sad to it most of the time. Rather just interested which comes off very inappropriate apparently. So then I don’t know how to react to a situation. I can also often tell in emergency situations my brain takes quite long to process what’s happening so I’ll also react quite either calm or even in appropriate to the situation. Even though it’s not really my fault it takes so long for my brain to process stuff. The last social thing I can say is, and everyone close to me knows this: I can be very repetitive. I have mega hyperfocus topics that I keep talking about, like this autism thing. But away from that I also often repeat phrases or words a lot. For instance “I love you”. To my boyfriend. I say that way too much. That case is also partly a hyperactivity thing because I have the feeling to have to say something too. But I repeat many things when talking. Which is annoying for others of course.

And then you have the non-social symptoms. My biggest and clearest symptom: sensory overload issues. Going grocery shopping is a whole adventure for me. It’s such an event that it takes me hours and I have to plan it out properly because afterwards I’m absolutely done. Simply because of sensory overload issues. I’ve had panic attacks multiple times in stores because of this. It’s a whole event for me at least. Parties and such. I can attend them, but I’ll always be the first to leave because I’m absolutely overstimulated after that. And sometimes I hate that about myself especially with family cause our family parties are usually really fun. But me having a complete panic attack and all that at a party doesn’t work, so I’ll have to go home after a while. It’s sad but true. I am what I call myself an extroverted introvert. I naturally prefer to be alone and avoid to socialize. But when I do, I tend to be very open and easy to talk with. And yes I do have the eye contant most people do and I do use my own body language and I speak in all colors and moods. I’m not a monotone speaker. And those are the visible signs. I don’t have those.

Then you have the routine thingy. As much as my ADHD also interferes here, it’s not only ADHD. My ADHD needs proper routine and repetition to function better. But I can also tell that if I don’t have that, I’ll go crazy. And that’s outside of ADHD. This particular thing I picked up mainly in small things. Like, if my boyfriend first vacuums and then dusts, it makes me go crazy. You first have to dust and then vacuum. It’s a stupid but simple example. If things aren’t at the proper place where they’re supposed to be like the big spoons and the little spoons have seperate places here, it’ll make me mad. And if a laundry shirt isn’t hung up properly it’ll also make me mad. And to be honest, I know people with ADHD can have this specific thing too. But in my eyes, I’m really good at feeling and picking things apart about myself, I feel this is not my ADHD. Yes if something is misplaced my ADHD gets confused but not mad. Something else in me gets mad. My ADHD gets confused when you first vacuum and then dust but not mad. That’s another part of me. And you have the hyperfocus issue. I can tell that my ADHD tends to just hyperfocus at the moment. So like, if I find something interesting about dogs I’ll be taking up hours investigating that. That’s a hyperfocus. But then there are topics I’m completely utterly obsessed with. Mental health is one. Hence why I won’t shut up over my own mental health. Animal´s is one. Like, I can spend hours and hours researching things about animals in the smallest of details. And then you have my obsessions with things like Harry Potter and lord of the rings in which I can watch video after video about theory after theory and such. It’s absolutely insane how deep I can go with things. And as much as my ADHD can make me binge watch Harry Potter related videos, the great obsession with it I’m not so sure if that’s ADHD related. I’ve had this all my life and it’s insane how deep my obsessions go sometimes. Also I know I’m clumsy as hell and very slow in working pace, but that itsself is a topic that needs to be covered since it can have multiple reasons why I have that. I also know I didn’t properly learn to speak until I was around 3,5 years old. I knew small centences and such but I didn’t speak fully like a 3 year old would. I was very late in speaking.

So, how do y’all keep all the symptoms apart from autism and ADHD and maybe other things? How can you tell the difference? I’m pretty curious about that.

1 Like

TLDR: @Bubbles17 - I can relate to a lot of what you shared, but definitely not all. I don’t believe that I am autistic, and a couple of online quizzes have helped me to feel more certain of that. However, your post has given me a lot to reflect on. In my case, I can see how the similarities I have to you fit into my overall makeup: neurologically (ADHD, HSP), psychologically (personality, introversion, insecurities), and experientially.

Then again, it sounds like you know yourself pretty well. If you’re sure that you have some form of Autism, then it is likely that you do. You may have a form which is sometimes called High Functioning Autism.

In the USA, I think that there are many ways to be referred for autism screening (including referral by a doctor, school, or social services) but that the screening must be done by a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist.


As far as I’m aware, I don’t have any autistic traits. (I used to think I did, but in my case they were easily explained by my ADHD, my introverted personality, insecurities, or being a highly sensitive person [HSP].) I’ve spent most of my life, from my teen years onward, trying to understand myself better (and trying to understand people better, in general).

I can relate to much of this.

  • I’m also usually the last person to get a joke. (Unless it was a joke from one of the people who really get my humor…like @Brooklyn , because they will sometimes tell jokes that I’m the FIRST person to get. I like puns! I’m guess I’m just a pun-ny guy, right Barry?)
  • I’m very sympathetic and empathetic, but am only good at picking up on body language unconsciously. I have trouble consciously reading body language or explaining what I picked up unconsciously. My intuitive ability helps a lot when working in customer service roles, and for building rapport with colleagues.
  • I take things literally most of the time. Since I don’t have much of an ability to “read” people, I take them at face value. This is usually fine, but I’ve found that some people take advantage of my naive nature…and it always goes very bad for me when they do. I’m a lot wiser for it now, but the damage to my self-esteem has taken a lot of work and time to overcome.
  • When my intuition clashes with taking someone at face value, I tend to doubt my intuition for lack of evidence. This often makes me feel insecure about my abilities to read a person or a situation accurately. (Even if I do eventually find that the other person has only self-interested motivation, it’s usually not detrimental to the shared goal, but I’ll be less inclined to want to work with them again.)

Me, too. However, I realized a long time ago that at least half the people I met are not interested in such deep conversation. Also, I often don’t have enough time to develop conversations like that with most of the people I work with. (I’m there to fix their tech issues, so that they can continue with their regular work duties.) And people that I thought were close friends that I used to have such deep conversations with have pulled away to a more surface-level relationship ((sigh) it can be so hard to find good friends).

  • At my first retail job (where I was from age 19 to 25), I learned how to make “small talk” with customers and the coworkers who I worked with less often, but I just don’t do “small talk” well in my personal life.
  • At church, I try to talk with the same few people that I know I can have meaningful conversation with, even if it’s an ongoing conversation (a few minutes at a time, spread over several weeks), rather than stain to have shallow conversations with a lot of people (because either I won’t remember what we talked about, or I’ll remember feeling awkward).

Regarding your “inappropriate questions”:

  • You were just a child where the 2014 plane crash and 2015 terrorist attacks in France occurred, and most children do not know how to respond appropriately to such terrible events. I know that highly-intelligent or highly-sensitive children will ask questions (quietly to themselves, if not out loud) in order to try to make sense of such things. However, if this is still how your brain responds to tragic events, it could be that you are indeed autistic.
  • I still ask out-of-the-box questions in response to tragic events, but either to myself, in my prayers to God (because I’m sure that He understands the question behind my questions), or with like-minded people (other “engineer” types like me who want to try to prevent the next tragedy like this from occurring).

I did a little research and found the following, which may help you, or at least encourage you:

1 Like

My niece is what many believe to be moderately autistic, but with the way her insurance works and the fact that my sister hates pressing the issue are reasons she has yet to have an official diagnosis. Her PC Provider diagnosed her as ADHD because according to my sister “the medication is the same for both.” I sometimes wonder if I’m on the spectrum as I get severe anxiety when looking people in the eye. Either way, having a diagnosis does help. I would suggest you see a specialist.

1 Like

Yeah I do still ask those questions. Not out loud anymore cause I’m embarrassed of them now. I seriously got called out for them in the past. I was 13 and 14 at that time. So it made me hella insecure. Nowadays I think I tend to react a bit emotionless toward such tragic things because of the questions I have. And it’s not that I don’t think they’re horrible, but I tend to move on from them quite fast emotionally. So that gives me space to just ask questions and start discovering things about the events. Omg if there would be a tsunami somewhere I’m much more interested in the height, speed, epicentre, how it happened, the reasoning, scale etc rather then how many people died etc. And if I had a lot of money I would’ve surely give a lot of it to those places to help recover. But I’m for instance also interested in the scale of damage the tsunami has done from a scientific point of view. The earth has such power which I’m so interested in. I just keep the questions to myself these days simply because of the backlash I used to get from them

It’s actually quite relieving to talk about it here knowing y’all would understand it instead of attacking me for it. I’ve kept it in for so long

2 Likes

You should become a scientist, science writer, or publish a science blog. (Or maybe a novelist, writing disaster novels.) Then, you’ve got the perfect cover when your ask those questions: “professional curiosity”.
:wink:

1 Like

Hahahah lol. I definitely want to do a therapist education once since it’s such an interest for me and it’s a good way to learn.

2 Likes

Maybe you could even be an ADHD coach. I’ve been looking into training and certification. (I wasn’t able to find out anything about certification in the Netherlands, so I don’t know if that’s a possibility.)

It might work well together with a therapy career, maybe even help you get into that line of work.

1 Like

Yeah or using the knowledge for something like my tiktoks. I just need to be able to afford an online education once, so I can do it all in my own tempo.

2 Likes