June 21, 2020 at 8:20 pm #176070
I know taking things literally is a symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorder but can it also be a trait of someone with ADHD? My son has ADHD and often (not always) takes people too seriously. For example, When he was younger he’d get mad if someone called him a “little boy.” Now he gets his feelings hurt because he misreads what someone is saying to or about him as an insult. I can’t think of an example right now but I find myself often explaining what people “intended” by their comments to him. He doesn’t really have any other traits of ASD, so I’m wondering if this is just a personality quirk of his or if it’s related to ADHD or something else. I’m also wondering what to do to help him socially interpret for himself better because I can see this turning into social anxiety as he misinterprets and overthinks what’s said to him and how he responds. He is 8.
June 22, 2020 at 12:58 pm #176565
It could be Rejection sensitive dysphoria.
June 23, 2020 at 3:00 am #176836
Hi, my son is 25 now and still does this, but he is more self aware that he is doing it and gets less upset about it. You are doing a great job by helping your son understand what people actually meant. I used to try and find books and stories to read to him which we could then relate to taking things literally and hopefully laugh about. Also his Dad takes things literally too, so I could say to my son “what did you really mean when you said that to your Dad, because he thinks you meant something different!!” So he could see it from the other persons point of view. Eventually instead of getting upset he would say “what do you mean?”. Hope that helps a bit! X
June 23, 2020 at 1:30 pm #176982
You’re right that it’s more commonly seen with an autism diagnosis, but it can be true of those with ADHD as well. Many are literal, concrete, black-and-white thinkers. They have to learn to look for and interpret body language, tone of voice, and other nuances to see the actual intention. My son has both diagnoses and really struggled with concrete thinking, especially with analogies and figures of speech, for many years. Around middle school he started to learn to pay attention to unspoken language/communication and does a LOT better with it now, at 17.
My son’s autism is very subtle and took 3 clinicians to diagnose because he kept getting dismissed for not having the stereotypical autism symptoms. Personally, I believe ADHD and autism are one spectrum together.
All that to say, your son could very well struggle with this and have just ADHD, or he could have very subtle autism along with ADHD. The answer will differ based on the clinician you ask, unfortunately. The bottom line really is to work on building his non-verbal language awareness and skills.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach, Podcaster & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
June 23, 2020 at 1:46 pm #176992
I do this too, and have done since I was quite young. I’m 34 now and still struggle with it. I wasn’t aware that it could be an ADHD thing, as I’ve only ever seen it associated with autism. Penny, I personally would be interested in hearing more about the concrete, black and white, literal thinkers with ADHD. Are there articles on that on here?
June 26, 2020 at 11:57 pm #177613
I keep forgetting to reply to this, haha. Thanks, Penny! I googled and found some interesting readings.
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