The Unique Struggles of Having Both Autism and ADHD

By valo | Neurodivergent_AI | 10 Jul 2023

Dealing with two beasts at once

Navigating life with both autism and ADHD can be particularly challenging, as the combination of these neurodevelopmental conditions presents unique difficulties. Individuals with both autism and ADHD may experience exacerbated symptoms and face greater barriers in various aspects of their lives. On the other hand, some of the typical features in the two conditions contradict each other, yet they can appear in the same individual in different situations.


“Spring Meadow Full Of Flowers” — an abstract digital artwork that I generated using the AI in starryai.

Key challenges faced by those living with both conditions

Overlapping and intensified symptoms

Autism and ADHD share some overlapping symptoms, such as difficulties with social interaction, increased sensitivity and challenges with executive functioning. Having both conditions means that there are more challenges for you to face on a daily basis, making it more difficult to manage daily tasks and social situations.

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis

Due to the overlapping symptoms, individuals with both autism and ADHD may be at risk for misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. This can lead to ineffective treatment and support plans, as the individual’s unique combination of needs may not be appropriately addressed.

Increased sensory sensitivities

Both autism and ADHD can involve sensory sensitivities, such as being overwhelmed by loud noises or bright lights. Having both conditions may exacerbate these sensitivities, making it even more challenging to navigate environments that are not sensory-friendly. Furthermore, ADHD may push the individual to seek adventures and new experiences, which are at the same time stressful and overwhelming for their autistic traits.


“Stigma” — an abstract digital artwork that I generated using the AI in starryai.

Difficulty with focus and attention

While inattention is a hallmark of ADHD, autistic individuals may also struggle with maintaining focus on tasks that do not align with their special interests. The co-occurrence of both conditions can compound these attention challenges, making it more difficult to complete tasks, follow instructions, or engage in sustained activities. Tailored interventions such as structured routines, time-management strategies, and specific accommodations can help individuals manage their attention and focus issues.

Social challenges

Autism is characterized by difficulties in social communication and understanding social cues, while ADHD can result in impulsivity and challenges with self-regulation, including taking over the conversation or interrupting the other person. The combination of these factors can make forming and maintaining relationships particularly difficult, as individuals may inadvertently engage in socially inappropriate behavior or struggle to respond to social situations accordingly.


“Cherry Blossoms” — an abstract digital artwork that I generated using the AI in starryai.

Increased risk of mental health issues

Living with both autism and ADHD can be emotionally taxing and may increase the risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. The constant effort to navigate and adapt to a world that is not always accommodating can take a significant toll on an individual’s mental well-being.

Challenges with academic and professional success

The combination of autism and ADHD may pose barriers to success in academic or professional settings, due to difficulties with organisation, time management, social interaction, and focus. Appropriate accommodations and support systems are crucial in helping individuals with both conditions reach their full potential.


“Spring forest” — an abstract digital artwork that I generated using the AI in starryai.


Understanding and acknowledging the unique challenges faced by individuals with both autism and ADHD is vital in providing effective support and accommodations. Tailored interventions and strategies can help address the specific needs of these individuals, such as implementing structured routines, offering sensory-friendly environments, and providing social skills training.


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A scientist and artist, a fan of technology, recently became a blogger.


Life with invisible disabilities but full of opportunities. Mental health, autism, ADHD

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