Autism Spectrum AND ADHD?

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    • #60092

      Hello! I spend my days researching, because it is my job and I like information… but I am torn by what I see. When I was 30 I was diagnosed with ADHD, two of my children with ADHD, and my other two children as ADD, but one was “likely combination”. It has been 15 years, and while much of my behavior has been easily understood under the umbrella of ADHD, not all of it fits.

      First, it is completely reasonable that I wasn’t diagnosed as a child, my social skills were never good, strong, and I was never really that interested in other people… but my academic skills permitted my “eccentric” behavior and teachers usually just said I was “different”, “didn’t engage with other children well”, etc. I spent first and second grade in the library because I was ahead of my class and I couldn’t understand why it was important to raise my hand …. nor why the teacher would constantly ask the question to students that clearly didn’t know the answer. Because I was in the library, my reading skills were pushed even higher, and everyone assumed, as the years went on, that my academic level was causing the poor social skills and inability to “make friends”.

      As I grew up, I just never really developed an interest in other people, as more than a subject that was clearly eluding my understanding. I spent ALL of my middle school, high school, and adult life trying to understand why people do what they do. It is the reason I took a Marketing degree program, why I also got my master’s in adult education, and why I read everything and still work in social research.

      My children made sense until about age 11 or 12… though some of the insanity of constantly being involved in drama began younger. Thanks to my children and 15 years of waitressing, I developed fairly good skills at understanding emotions… a skill I lacked when I was very young. I didn’t understand jokes, but I am much better at it. For years I thought the saying “arm and a leg” was an “hour around lake”… mostly because you can’t give someone an arm and a leg, but since “time is money”, it obviously is that I am hearing them wrong and it must be time that is lost. Makes sense, but kind of seems dumb now that I am older and understand it better.

      Mostly, I accept the world the way it is, and have learned to manage my “symptoms” or “differences”. For example, I work from home now, which eliminates most of my temper tantrums when things don’t fit into my idea of how things work. My children are now grown up. I am a full-time caregiver for my husband, and help my mom out, etc. So, I stay very busy.

      Why I am thinking about the autism spectrum, which based on my research they will finally put ADHD with autism officially, eventually, but… Sometimes my husband and I have arguments and I just don’t understand. The children are all grown up, they make their own decisions. That is why when they turn 18 they are “legal” and after “21” they are completely legal… but somehow he feels like it is still our job to tell them what to do and not to do. I won’t turn down an opportunity to “give advice” but I don’t understand a lot of what he says, or why it all bothers him. It doesn’t have anything to do with him, it isn’t hurting him. His family, some of my family (I don’t stay in contact well), other people… always following about, having judgments on other people, worrying about these things like it somehow hurts them. I can’t understand… I tried, he says that “caring” is the important part of all this. I honestly do “care” about my children and other people generally. I help anyone who asks, whenever I can. I just don’t understand why it is part of “caring” to worry, fret, and be bossy with other adults.

      That is really not enough for me to worry… but my daughter has a child now…. go me! Grandbaby! Suddenly, now I have a daughter I completely don’t understand. She thinks I do, but really I have no clue. She cries and let’s everyone bother her, and I just don’t get it. Someone is upsetting your life, structure, etc…. kick them to the curb. I suppose though, since I have been married three times, engaged seven times, that I should not expect that my ideas of the world are “typical”. Still, I just don’t understand.

      I don’t think medicine will help, but I am concerned because dementia runs in the family too. IF I can prepare my children, IF all of this goes back to being bad like when I was a lot younger and had more trouble with it all. How do I prepare my family for all that? What do I do, teach them about both, autism and ADHD? Go back and try to get someone to actually diagnosis correctly so that if dementia starts in a few years (yes, for my family I guess it starts in the 50s), they know what is going on?

      Normally, I would just ignore all of it, because it doesn’t exactly interfere with my life or my schedule, and there is just not enough research that is consistent. But, now that I know dementia is a huge risk for the future, and I am the primary …. I am the Matriarch, and quite literally most of everything runs or gets done because I make it happen. Even my daughter, with her grandson, still rely on my 100% of the way. Even when I am disorganized things rarely fall completely apart (typically happens with I become engaged in a “new” project and can’t pull my head out of the sand).

      I don’t completely fit autism, but some of my behaviors are also not typically ADHD.

      Suggestions, recommendations? Anyone have a diagnosis of both as an adult?

    • #60117
      Penny Williams

      I don’t know how many adults have the dual diagnosis of ADHD and autism, but it is becoming more and more common among kids, including my own son. When the new DSM-V was published a few years ago, it opened the door to having both diagnoses, which all prior versions prohibited. I suspect few adult have the dual diagnosis, just due to that.

      This article is written about children, but the insights apply to adults too:

      ADHD and the Autism Spectrum

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #60123


      I recently also got diagnosed with both.
      Some symptoms of Autism spectrum disorder don’t fit me. For me it was really shocking to also got diagnosed with ASD.
      But also some things started to make sense for the first time in my life. Especially that I enjoyed “feeling” how things work and how stressful it is to be close to other humans.
      What I am not is good at things like math or science what is typical for ASD nor I have a lack of empathy.

      I often felt people rely on me because I don’t like to be social but I like to work. In all my previous jobs I always accepted extra work. My superiors when I quit said they need to hire 2-3 people to replace me.
      Now after multiple job changes (never fired) I started to wonder. Am I really doing such a big thing, or am I overestimating myself, maybe underestimating them.
      I worked at the emergency service but the ambulance still drives out, I worked both passenger and cargo train driver but the trains kept driving,…
      In my case I started to stop this feeling inside me and realize my employer, wife,… can do more without me then I actually thought.
      Even if that is not the case, even if they can’t survive without me now, they will find a way to survive. That’s what humans do, survive.
      My current (part-time) job is in a shop, we have half the staff of last year but >20% more sales. Not because our previous manager was bad or the new manages amazing but because we find new ways to survive.
      I think (Of-course I can be wrong) you can worry less because they will find a way. But as a parent, manager, CEO,… It is important to continue to share our knowledge. Knowledge should be in the form as guiding them towards the solution, but not saying how the solution should be. That’s something your children can find out themselves. What would you learn the most from? Getting told you may have AD(H)D and be guided to a doctor, or just receive medication without more?
      With the first case you can go home, study about AD(H)D and get extra information at a doctor what leads to a treatment plan.
      While with the second case you will take the medication and the moment people stop pointing to the medication you will not take it.
      -Be a guide to your children, help them but don’t let them rely on you

      I think also with dementia you can prepare now with writing things down and putting it in a box. This box can contain all the knowledge you want them to have, about being a good human, parent, citizen, living organism, …
      This can also be good for your own mental state to see things at a different perspective. And the moment dementia would make it impossible to still help them, this box can help them guide to new things. Maybe not exactly how you written it down but open their minds.

      Lastly, take care of your body and fight against a certain mindset.
      If you think constantly about “I soon will have dementia”, it is probably going to happen soon.
      If you think about “this year I will become the most healthy both mentally and physically in a decade ” then you can work for it and make changes.
      Have a morning routine with physical exercise, drink plenty of water and expand your brain by study and reading. Avoid bad things like alcohol, smoking/smokers, people who think negative, chemicals like chemical sprayed vegetables and chemicals for cleaning.
      It is not because your DNA says you are more likely to have dementia or cancer or drug abuse that you need to accept that. Fight it and do everything possible to prevent it.

      My morning routine is waking up, drinking big glass of water, bicycle (2-3km) to my farm to open greenhouse then I go back home to prepare my child for school. After that I go back to my farm, Harvest and delivery to the vegetable shop.
      This way I refreshed my self with seeing my dream, do physical exercise and be social at to my customers. This is my way to start the day of fighting my own negative feelings that I have about myself because of ADHD and ASD. My enemy is depression and isolation. Find a morning routine that can help your enemy (dementia).

      Or maybe I am thinking crazy or misunderstanding your question,
      Happy to hear feedback

      • #60136

        That is exactly what I am talking about, Penny. Those things, which yes, Asperger’s fits best. I wasn’t developmentally delayed and was reading by four. I learn things quickly, but I don’t bother with anything I am not interested in. To tell the truth, the reason I work from home is because I couldn’t find a job that was interesting or that I felt like learning. I also didn’t feel like being part of any more “groups”. I don’t understand most of the rules of social engagement and they give me a massive headache trying to figure it out. I LOVE social research, absolutely do not enjoy being social. I don’t mind having friends that I see rarely. I also don’t know why my husband gets annoyed at his friends when they only stop over when they “need” something. When I am bored I find something to do, or plan something I want to do. LOL

      • #60137

        Hi, Shirokuma! I was just like you in regular jobs, sometimes still like that in my current job. It was always hard to replace the amount of work I could on my shifts too. 🙂 Plus, some of the waitress jobs I worked used to keep me over on shifts they expected health department inspections because I wash my hands, A LOT.

        I know my family can survive without me taking care of things, not to the way they would like… but they can. My actual biggest concern is they won’t be able to handle ME. It has taken a very long time for me to manage this much progress. I am … generally challenging, because I am eccentric, stubborn, clumsy, and usually know I am more intelligent than most of the people around me. See, would you want to deal with me? I can assure you, it took many years in customer service and horrible high school punishments to get to the point where I don’t say… I don’t know, rude things. I do, all the time, still. However, really, though my husband and in-laws don’t realize it, this is MILD. I learned a bad habit in elementary and middle school, it was to be “cute” so that people threatened me a lot less… including adults. That is how unsuccessful I am at knowing when to shut my mouth and what is “rude”. My go to… a little kid’s voice and stupid giggle. I even hate it… but no one kicks your butt or yells at you if you seem young and innocent, and “naive”.

        When I get older, am I going to remember how to do all this? I would think most of my family wouldn’t know how to handle me without the filters I have learned to develop. Even still, with filters, they are sometimes shaking their heads like they don’t know why I would say that, or why I don’t understand what they are saying.

        I don’t have negative feelings, I am totally afraid my family will put me in a home and forget me. LOL… which actually would be ok but I don’t want to leave my garden. I am already making my children swear they will never take me away from my garden. All of my children are grown up. 🙂

        Biking is an awesome hobby! Lately I swim, my back has taken a turn for the worse, but I go to the YMCA every single morning, as part of my routine. When I was a kid, we always lived by the ocean, and though we were not in the water ALL the time, when you move away from the water you crave it every day. The YMCA is one of my three little vices/indulgences. Exercise is my favorite thing to do, because I love the feeling that my muscles are sore from too much work. Now, if we can get my back to stop with the nerve pain in my legs, I would be able to bike and do it too. LOL

        Thank you for sharing! I will see if I can create the information you suggested for saving ideas. Mostly, it will be about my puppies and my garden. 🙂 Like how they are NOT allowed to tell me if my puppies die, and that everyone better stay away from my garden unless they have permission to touch it. It’s weird to say, but I think I am more attached to my dogs than I am my family. LOL that is terrible right? I think my dogs (puppies) are my babies.

        I will see if I can find just dementia research and try to match it with what we know about ADHD and Asperger’s

    • #60405

      Autism and ADHD run in my family. I don’t have autism at all, but I also think the kind of DRAMA that gets so many people worked up is stupid. I have 2 aunts who won’t speak, and I consider the whole thing idiotic to the extreme and childish.

      I know how to nod and smile and pat backs when people are being big babies, and when appropriate, I do it.

      Just because you don’t care about drama doesn’t mean you don’t care about people. There’s a difference between not understanding other people’s emotions on even an intellectual level and thinking that they get way too upset about stupid things. One is autistic. The other is me. 🙂

      • #60436

        I don’t like being around people at all. We don’t know what runs in our family. As most of my family has been pretty anti-medicine either as a result of religion or other factors. Also, if autism “runs in our family”, only two cases I know of were extreme. We have a very large family (I am the oldest of 7, and most of my aunts and uncles had at least four children each).

        The link that Penny sent for Asperger actually is a better description of me and one of my children, my husband recognized it right away in my son when he read it. It fits me except that I spent all of my young life trying to understand people to avoid the situations I got into because I didn’t understand them. Then I spent 15 years waitressing, and then I spent another ten in customer service. Even though I work from home now, I work in social research most often. Recently, in education including medical education. It’s why I noticed that there were signs of autism that fit my family (myself and my children) when we had all been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD. Probably ten years ago, a friend who knew me fairly well, noticed I was offish about people touching me, (like random hugs, I really don’t like people touching me, never had… but random hugs are my least favorite). Having come from a large family and being completely unlike my sister who is constantly hugging on people, they asked if I had ever been screened for autism. I literally ignored that comment, because straight A students are never tested for anything, they are assumed to have social problems because they are smart. So, obviously I was never tested for autism.

        On the other hand, my son was on an IEP for being social below his class. I actually held him back in kindergarten because he couldn’t handle their age situations. He couldn’t. He is still averaging about 5 years behind on social interests. Interesting thing is, I have always just told people that my family tends to “mature slower” than average people. I have seen that from the stories of my grandfather, most of my siblings, even I didn’t manage to take college seriously until 30, and I graduated at 16. Which is a longer story, but not relevant.

        Over the years, I think we have learned that “quirks” people have are often conditions they are controlling. BUT worse, as we get older, I don’t know that we can help but start to revert back to our younger selves. SO, my concern, is making sure my children understand me before I become out of control… of something other than they are used to. LOL

      • #61031

        I have learned to tolerate hugs but I don’t like strangers hugging me still, and even with friends, I privately wish handshakes were still fine. (At least we’re not expected to kiss people in greeting anymore!!!)

        I dislike being around many people, but this is FAR more true off medication. I can concentrate soooo much better on drugs that I’m not losing my mind anymore with too much people exposure.

        It could be ASD. It could also just be the manifestations of ADHD in you and your child. Maybe he can’t understand others. Maybe he is so distracted by Russian spy satellites or his shirt or the air or nothing at all that these things don’t penetrate far enough to make an impression.

        Getting the ADHD under control will help you see what’s left, basically.

        To be honest, my unscientific approach is generally listening to speech patterns. There are distinctly ASD methods of delivery and conversational flow that are so tightly bound up in most ASD cases.

    • #77864

      Hi! ADHD and autism often co-occur together. I understand the confusion around ASD as it’s a spectrum condition, so it basically occurs at all different levels. Some people with ASD are severely disabled, non-verbal and are unable to live independently, whereas others have university degrees and are extremely successful. Although Asperger Syndrome is used to describe the higher functioning type of autism (normal to high IQ and no speech and language delay), it formally no longer exists. The DSM-5 wants to classify every type of ASD as ASD now. Although it’s still used on a daily basis, mainly by people with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome who created the pride term ‘aspies’ for themselves (which I personally think sounds really lame. That’d be like calling people with Down Syndrome ‘downies’, which nobody would ever dare to do).

      As both a clinician (working in clinical psychology) and a person with a combined childhood diagnosis of ASD and ADHD, it’s hard to take sides. I see why it’s easier to just get rid of all the separate names for subtypes of ASD and just classify it all under one name (as a lot of people seem to be confused about the differences between Asperger Syndrome and ASD), I also see how a lot of those proud ‘aspies’ are kind of frustrated ad to them it feels like a loss of identity.

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