What is the difference between ADHD and Autism?

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Both of them are neurodevelopmental condition and show similar signs. But I can’t fully grasp the major differences here. Please explain.

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The way I look at it is this:

Autism affects how a person’s brain processes information. It can present in a wide variety of ways depending on what type of information the person isn’t able to process, the extent of their abnormal processing, and whether they have trouble processing inputs or outputs. So it can be as bad as a loud room causing a person to shut down, to not processing emotion, to just being excessively irritated by the feeling of particular fabrics.

ADHD affects a person’s ability to control their executive function. Essentially, they may be unable to control what they’re focusing on. It could present as mild as “being easily distracted” to “being completely unable to focus on anything but the last thing that was mentioned.”

Of course, there are more technical definitions. And these conditions affect both kids and adults. Adults have just figured out ways to cope with their disfunction, so it’s less apparent. And the recent rise in both of these is likely because of better diagnosing practices rather than an actual increase in incidence.

Autism is when you don’t understand the hidden subtext that most everybody else does when interacting with others. There are other effects but this is the main pillar of how it’s expressed. Basically whenever you interact with someone there is a shared understanding between most people of what certain things mean, Autistic people tend to struggle to grasp that hidden message that to others is understood in context.

Example: you’re talking to a friend about another person in your class and your friend tries to suggest that you are attracted to this person by raising their eyebrows repeatedly and nudging you with their elbow. To most people this is clearly an attempt to say they think that you are attracted to that classmate without using those words, Autistic people will tend to need you to spell this out in plain words or they just won’t understand.

ADHD is a problem with decision making (we call it executive function but thats not a ELI5 friendly term) basically the brain can’t handle having too many outside influences or else it starts to short out and can’t properly delegate tasks it would normally do to keep you focused on your main goal. This can end up making you lose track of your plans and get lost in something entirely unrelated.

Example: I personally have ADHD and one of my biggest issues with it is carrying on small talk with friends or family. If I am in a deep conversation I can usually focus and stay on topic as usually the topic is more interesting, but with small talk I often find my mind wandering randomly and I’ll lose focus on what the other person is saying because my brain heard them use the word “orange” a couple of minutes ago and all I’ve been able to think about since is what rhymes with Orange? And then what other words like it are so hard to find a perfect rhyme for that isn’t mispronounced or a town name. I’ll linger on that thought until I realize I haven’t been listening for the last 5 minutes and now my conversation partner is waiting for me to respond to the last thing they said. Cue panic.

TLDR: Autism is a struggle to understand what people mean if they aren’t blunt and to the point. ADHD is a struggle to focus on things when your brain has a mind of its own.

Can you have both because I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD but have autistic traits like super sensitive to sound and tough and smell and lights.

Why do you say they show similar signs? Forget the differences what are the similarities?

Autism is that the part of your brain responsible for learning and processing interpersonal interactions is damaged. You have a learning disability that hinders your ability to learn what actions are inappropriate. This defect can range anywhere from moderate to severe.

ADD usually means you are someone that hyper focuses to the extent that you focus on the one thing that currently interests you and ignore the rest. People interpret this as having poor focus because you aren’t paying attention to what they are telling you to.