Being Autistic and ADHD, I am in a constant struggle to keep both of these elements of myself content, and sometimes, under control. They’re like young siblings, sometimes they love each other and play along nicely, and the rest of the time it’s pure chaos.
My Autistic self wants routine, to eat the same foods every day, have everything planned out, with only one thing happening per day. My ADHD / Attention Hyperactivity self thrives on spontaneity and novelty. It loves to try different things and do all the things at once.
My Attention Hyperactivity is constantly seeking out dopamine – quick and easy way to feel great joy, however short-lasting. My biggest hits of dopamine come from trying new things or hyper-focusing on my favourite subjects. I can dive into my special interests and stay deep in the joy that they bring, whilst satiating these parts of myself.
However, hyper-focus can mean I forget to eat or go to the bathroom and doesn’t help with my understanding of time. My Autistic self would love to be on time for things, having everything planned down to the minute. My AH self doesn’t understand time, let alone stick to it! So, I oscillate wildly between being early and being late but never on time! This also goes for timelines and prioritisation, I can’t understand what is more important and needs to be done first, therefore everything has to be done now.
The need to be constantly doing is exhausting and overwhelming to my Autistic sensibility. My emotions, and my ability to cope with sensory stimuli, is inconsistent when my AH is at the wheel. My mind is going too fast for my body, too fast for my words to get out properly, and too fast for me to enjoy the dopamine which I am constantly craving. It is like being a generator which is switched on with no appliances connected – I have all this energy and nowhere to put it. I can regulate myself somewhat by stimming – by hand flapping, playing with my ears and speaking gibberish – but a lot of this nervous energy still remains, and I don’t always remember that stimming helps.
I think one of my favourite things about being Autistic and ADHD is that my brain can think outside of the box relatively effortlessly and I am able to see things from angles a lot of people miss. Being Attention Hyperactive means that I am constantly involved in lots of different projects and work streams. I have my main job which keeps my Autistic self (and the tax man!) happy but I also have all these other new and interesting short term projects which sustain my passion for civil rights. I need a constant stream of new information, surroundings and people, which means I’m really confident in trying new things and meeting new people.
Autistic and ADHD embodiment is a mixed bag, it can be confusing and overwhelming but it can also manifest in surges of creativity and self-confidence. Of course, this is just my personal experience but I have a suspicion that other Autistic ADHDers would also like to know who’s driving the car sometimes!