Autism or ASD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results in a range of difficulties with social communication, social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours or interests. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a condition that can affect people at any stage of their life. On this page, we have outlined the different presentations of ASD and ADHD in adults.
Adults with autism might find it challenging to start a conversation with someone and know how to keep that conversation going. They can feel awkward during social interactions. They might find it hard to make eye contact and prefer to look elsewhere while communicating with somebody. It often impacts their friendships and social relationships.
Adults with autism may find it hard to understand their emotions and even regulate their feelings. Following a social situation, an autistic adult can feel drained and may need time to be on their own and perhaps engage in a special interest to help them regulate. They may find it hard to make friends or keep friendships going. Knowing what other people might think or feel can be more challenging. And then that can lead to difficulties within relationships.
Some people with autism may find their employment a bit more complicated, mainly if that job involves a lot of social interaction or a job that involves lots of change as well.
If your loved one receives an ASD diagnosis, it is essential not to treat the diagnosis as a negative. It would help if you aimed to be supportive, as your loved one may have questions and concerns surrounding the news. Likewise, try to create a positive and calming environment for your loved one to explore the implications of their diagnosis.
We understand that any diagnosis can be challenging to come to terms with. Therefore, we recommend reading this useful resource from the National Autistic Society for more information. This resource may also help to guide your understanding of this diagnosis, with downloadable information for partners of people with autism.
ADHD in adults may present in specific ways that might include finding it hard to organise themselves, creating a routine for themselves, and sticking to that routine. Things like filling in forms and other big admin tasks can become overwhelming, so they are prone to avoiding those tasks. It can be challenging to meet deadlines, which can also impact their work.
Adults with ADHD may also find it hard to sleep and stay asleep. So it can be harder for them to regulate their own emotions. They may then appear as an overly emotional person, which can then impact relationships and friendships.
Someone with ADHD can be more impulsive and speak quickly without thinking about what they're saying, which they then can come across as being rude or blunt without them meaning to.
Women are affected differently from men with ADHD. Women often present more with the inattentive type of ADHD, with the addition of fluctuations of their hormones throughout the month. Overall, this can have a significant impact on their life.