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  • Writer's pictureMim Kempson

ADHD and autism in relationships

Are you or your partner neurodiverse, with or without a diagnosis of ADHD or autism?

If one of you has ADHD and the other ASD, there may be distinct differences and challenges you face in your relationship.

Remember, there are overlaps in ADHD and ASD. Both can experience social anxiety, over-stimulation/sensory overload, hyper-fixations, rejection sensitivity and difficulties with emotional regulation, to name a few crossovers. Therefore, these lists are purely suggestions of what may resonate, but not always.

People often ask me, "what if I have both ADHD and ASD?" Well, the following will present more as an internal conflict where you relate to parts of both. As a result, you may feel sometimes that one of your needs conflicts the other! That satisfying one need, goes against another need.

Here are some of the ways ADHD and ASD may contrast in relationships:

ADHD: Seeks to feel free and spontaneous

ASD: Seeks clarity and comprehension

ADHD: Enjoys new or novel experiences

ASD: Enjoys routine or the trialled and tested

ADHD: Prone to being people-pleasing and optimistic

ASD: Prone to being overly blunt and a realist

ADHD: May require more variety and stimulation

ASD: May require more alone time and explanations

I work with many couples (queer and straight) where one or both partners are neurodiverse. This post covers just a handful of the challenges I've heard partners giving feedback on. If you're wanting to work on your relationship and are considering couples therapy (or individual therapy for yourself), book in for a free 15-minute intro call and we can discuss whether we'd make a good fit for therapy.

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