This is more of a rambling blog, so I apologize if it’s a bit more scattered and less planned out than my previous blogs. In January 2020, I was also diagnosed with ADHD… 3 years after also being diagnosed with autism as an adult. The process has been drastically different for me with the ADHD diagnosis compared to autism and I’m still internally trying to figure out why.
So the ADHD “test” I took was awful. Not like getting a shot or covid test awful but I had to click the mouse each time a certain pattern, image, or sound appeared… Easy enough, right?? Well, then they start adding obstacles like opening the door so you can easily hear people walking by with their loud shoes or talking amongst each other, having other monitors on next to my computer, etc. Just every day distractions that I didn’t realize I’d learned to tune out through years of school that faded away in adulthood which really had my ADHD flashing like a neon sign. Leg bouncing for stimming. Looking around and memorizing the assigned numbers on all the computer monitors, checking the clock, and getting increasingly frustrated with each wrong answer.
When I was diagnosed as Autistic, I took a few weeks to process and looked into it before disclosing it to my husband. I was so ignorant about autism and so much information available through basic google searches mainly brought up autism perspectives from neurotypical parents/caregivers and only made me feel even worse about my diagnosis. It was when I finally disclosed my diagnosis to friends that I was able to get some sound advice especially from others I didn’t realize were autistic. I didn’t realize they were autistic because what little I knew about autism before the diagnosis was absolutely wrong. I reached out to other Autistics and watched other autistic advocates relay things that were reassuring, beyond helpful, and gave me hope.
Sadly, I have not been able to do the same for ADHD. It’s not that I feel bad about it or see it negatively… But it seems there’s very little information available. (Shout out to the creator “black girl lost keys” for really being a positive anchor in navigating this secondary diagnosis). I feel way more blind and lost and it’s difficult for me to figure out how being autistic and ADHD impacts me and in what ways. Sometimes they overlap but I also feel like they also don’t always and that’s what makes it difficult.
Again, I’m not disappointed but relieved for this diagnosis… But I feel like I’m flying blindfolded trying to navigate this. I also, admittedly am disappointed there wasn’t more available resources when I was growing up or the whole wave of “adhd is fake” and the anti-ritalin rhetoric didn’t help me in school or with friendships… It, in fact, directly negatively impacted me because parents in general were skeptical of adhd diagnosis’ then because they claimed it was “people just drugging their kids instead of letting them be kids. Kids are just hyper in general and need to burn off energy”. (That take on ADHD is so WRONG but a major topic in the mid 90s). I feel like there’s a fraction of the informative resources available for adhd individuals even compared to autism, which again is mainly flooded with perspective from non autistic people.
ADHD does explain why I have the INTENSE special interest aspects of autism but they’re short lived before it’s onto the next thing. For example, I’ll get super hardcore in love with a show or musical artist and usually within a couple of years at most before I’m super into another thing… And not that I hate what I was into it’s just not as intense as before. Things like this always made me feel “less autistic” when talking to other Autistics and to not only have an answer but to speak or listen to others who share these experiences have benefited me so much.
I encourage anybody who is adhd and/or autistic and is considering being an influencer, activist, or advocate to do so. Our voices, our experiences, our point of view from the eyes and minds of the neurodiverse should ALWAYS take priority in educating and information on these conditions because they matter. The internet is our megaphone to be heard and it will benefit others like us and the parents/caregivers of us too. Medical professionals need to start listening to us too because our experiences can educate them and improve the lives of Neurodivergent people and the neurotypical society we are trying to navigate and survive in.