Autism and ADHD

Hi everyone. I received a high functioning autism diagnosis just over a year ago (at the age of 36) and have been dealing with understanding it ever since. 

I have been having regular sessions with a clinical psychologist at my local mental health hospital as as well as the diagnosis I was also told I was suffering from depression and anxiety. 

A large part of our chats revolve around my concerns about getting back into employment. She has mentioned, as have I read online so many times, that employers love people on the spectrum who have crazy attention to detail. 

This is when I feel like a fraud. I make stupid mistakes all the time, I lose focus on longer tasks and flip flop between interests. In my previous jobs I was able to do really technically complicated things like software development but made silly errors and was unable to do simple data entry into a spreadsheet. This theme has followed me since primary school. 

Today I accidentally came across an article saying that it is common for people on the spectrum to also suffer from ADHD and it then listed the common symptoms of ADHD. I tick an awful lot of them. 

What I don't understand is how can someone on the spectrum, who are supposed to have incredible attention to detail, also have something like ADHD where they continually make silly careless mistakes - I don't see how they are compatible. 

I'm going to raise this next week at my next session - it very complicated as I am, as far as the diagnostician and the clinical psychologist I've been seeing, autistic. But as I say, I often feel like a fraud and before I start looking for a job openly stating that I'm autistic, only to say "oh, but I don't have some of the really useful attributes",  I want to make sure I fully understand it. 

Does that make sense? Any thoughts?


  • Hello Chuckalicious,

    Thank you for this post! I'm curious if you have made any progress. I was diagnosed first with ADHD and later at 43 with ASD 1. 

    I am still struggling to understand what's what. The ADHD part of me loves stimulation, new experiences etc and the ASD side of me is highly sensitive, easily overwhelmed and anxious (and gets backlash after social occasions) etc.

    I totally get what you say about feeling a fraud and not fitting the idea that many people have about ASD (like good attention to detail). I really like meeting new people and and superficially do great (but easily get tired and bored and can't keep it up). 

    The ASD diagnosis especially makes sense of my childhood, I never understood what was going on and it was all very bewildering.

    In a way I am really grateful that it was the health professionals who told me I was autistic & adhd and that I didn't have to pursue it myself. I think there has been a lot of progress with understanding female autism. But I think there is  still a lot of work to be done on female autism/adhd combination. 

    A really good booklet was published in Dutch but needs to be translated into English. It is called: l"iving in the zipper between adhd and asd". It talks about the specific challenges and that it is not a homogenous mass - but some days you will be more adhd and some days more asd and that you need to cater to the needs of both. Both ASD and ADHD have executive functioning issues but stem from different needs - which makes that we grapple badly with executive functioning + issues! 

    It makes it also hard to tell people about the diagnosis, because it doesn't seem to fit the expectations people have.

    With regard to work I totally get you. And I assume that the job that would keep you happy would not be the kind of programming job/detail to attention job that some people with autism excel at... the huge obstacle is that the kind of job I would enjoy also puts great great pressure on my autistic side. And the kind of job that would suit my autistic side would make me crazily bored and desperate.

    It is like having two chicks in your nest you have to feed: one voracious one and one timid one and the boisterous bird like threatens your timid chick so you have to not only make sure they both get fed but also make sure that the timid chick doesn't get thrown out of the nest by the more boisterous chick? If that makes sense, which it probably does not :D 

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