ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, however this name isn’t quite right. Lots of people think that if you are ADHD you run around all the time and can never focus on anything, however this isn’t true. Sometimes hyperactivity can go on inside our brains more than our bodies, and the focusing and attention does happen, but just not always where and when you want it to! Therefore ADHD is not so much just a ‘deficit’ (not enough) of anything, but that ADHD brains struggle to regulate things like attention and focus; sometimes there is too much and sometimes there is too little. You don’t struggle from a lack of attention or hyperactivity – but it can look like that from the outside.
ADHD is also not a ‘disorder’. ADHD brains, just like autistic ones, are part of the natural variety of brain types that humans have; it is not a neurotypical brain that isn’t working properly! Some people think that because you can take medicine for ADHD that it is something that is fixable and therefore should be fixed. However, the medicine doesn’t magically make your brain neurotypical; it can just help with some of the things that people struggle with, such as focus. Not everyone chooses to take medication for ADHD.
People used to think that you could not be both Autistic and ADHD at the same time, however that has now changed. Some research shows that if you are Autistic there is a high chance you could be ADHD as well. You might see people use the term ‘AuDHD’ to say that they are both at the same time.
Some people also say that Autism and ADHD are not separate things, just a particular combination of neurodivergent traits and that they are only separate because doctors say that they are.
Autistic and ADHD people share a lot of the same traits including hyperfocus, stimming and special interests, but there are some things which seem like complete opposites and it can be tricky to experience them both! This means that if you are AuDHD you may find that your brain is very contradictory or paradoxical sometimes. For example you may feel like you really need and enjoy having a routine, but at the same time struggle with having to stick to it. Or you might feel better when your space is tidy and organised, but really struggle to not end up with random piles of stuff everywhere!
What can ADHDers/AuDHD be epic at?
- Problem solving
- Being creative
- Using hyperfocus to work on hobbies, passions, interests or projects
- Being energetic or passionate and inspiring others to join in
- Learning new things that interest us
What can ADHDers/AuDHD struggle with?
- Focusing on tasks when we want to
- Relaxing when we want to
- Remembering things
- Organising stuff
- Saying and doing things without thinking it through first
- Controlling big feelings like excitement, anger and sadness
You might find you feel really frustrated sometimes, especially when you can’t focus on the thing you want to, no matter how hard you try! Sometimes you might need some extra help, like using different tools or techniques, to help you focus or manage your energy better, so that you can use your unique abilities to their fullest.