A living paradox

People often ask me how I tell the difference between ADHD and Autism.

It’s hard – so here are contradictions that make it hard to describe.

In many ways I am a living paradox. This is just my interpretation.

For me it comes down to a key internal feeling:

* I need extreme order
* I thrive in total chaos

This is the battle I deal with every day.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Excruciatingly researching purchase options in a logical fashion.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Impulse buying something that looks cool and instantly regretting it.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Loving eating the same food every day.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Hating when I notice this and needing to eat something completely new.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Living with a routine, and loving it.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Needing a routine to thrive, but hating it.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Preferring a lot of time alone and to be quiet.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Needing to be around people and be social.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Wanting to follow the rules all the time and having respect for order.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Acting illogically in a way that contradicts these rules.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Wanting to become a deep subject matter expert in a few subjects.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Wanting to be a generalist in all subjects.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Enjoying menial tasks that are soothing like sorting LEGO for hours into types.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Hating doing menial repetitive tasks.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Wanting to be quiet during conversations and offer thoughts rarely.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Needing to implicitly interrupt and say everything before losing that information.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Needing low sensory environments to account for high stimulation.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Seeking high stimulation environments for low stimulation.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Being cautious about trying new things

ADHD Behaviour:
* Running headfirst into some exciting new task without consideration.

There are shared traits too (not every either Autistic or ADHD people will have them):

* Hyperfocus
* Strong emotional feelings and empathy
* Divergent thinking
* Good problem solving ability
* Creativity
* Interest in deep thinking
* Needing to know how things work


* Stimming / Fidgeting
* Over analysing social scenarios
* Strong sense of justice
* Altruistic behaviour
* Tics
* Rumination

I also am not uniformly Autistic / ADHD in the same way.

I seem to have more Autistic days, or more ADHD days. Accounting for this feeling and trying to work out which is more dominant helps me make the best use of my day.

It can change within that day too.

The most uniform quality I have is that I am unpredictable – even to myself.

You'll never guess why I needed to become my own boss.

This is why giving up on expectations about what I should be doing or what should work is probably the thing that has allowed me to be most productive. There's no rule book on how to live when you are often two things at once.
When I developed perfectionism it sabotaged my life.

Also why I think 'structured' therapy is especially awful for us dual diagnosis people who have perfectionism issues.

Because we might be consistent one week, but then meltdown due to becoming impulsive the next.

I call myself the swiss army knife person. Use whatever works. There are no rules – stop thinking of what is right and start thinking in terms of what works.

CAVEAT: I mean in regard to organising life – don't be a hurtful person – that is a fixed rule I try never to break.

I really can't stress enough how much it's important to teach yourself failure and to be ok with it – perfectionism kills self-esteem. It's uncomfortable as all hell to start with, it grated at my soul. I literally started by leaving errors in Tweets – and that was painful.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 15, 2021.

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism Coach as well as ADHD/Autism/OCD/CPTSD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am an ADHD/Autism Coach who trained through the ADD Coaching Academy. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

One thought on “A living paradox

  1. Wow…that took my breath away. I have wanted to articulate some similar self explanation for so long, but the task of it overwhelmed me. I feared that doing so, would hold my complexity so close to my face that I would not be able to look away from the burden it may have felt…and would render me despairing.

    Thank you for the patient, astute observations you make and the deep insight you have.

    Its all steeped in the greatest courage too.

    When I feel fractured and far away from human understanding, I will read and re-read it and know I do not struggle alone.

    A thousand thanks.


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