I ran into a friend I usually see three or four times a year. I confided in her about how I learned about my Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) back in December of 2016. I couldn’t have asked for a better response. She has years of education and work experience with those on the spectrum as well as other disorders. I related a few past life experiences that were examples of typical ASD traits. She knew it so well she could have finished my sentences.
My friend knows what it is to live with a constant companion. Hers is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Knowing this about her, I knew if I had her attention for five minutes worth of conversation, I was pushing it. I could have given her a long monolog of my ASD, but that’s too much for my friend. She is easily distracted and so I knew that any story I told her had to be “short and sweet”.
In the midst of our time together, she was on her cell phone while another friend was talking. She wasn’t ignoring the person; in fact, the other person is used to talking to our friend with or without our friend’s undivided attention. Suddenly she was in a dither. She couldn’t remember what she needed to text a friend and knew it was important but couldn’t recall what it was. She asked if that ever happened to me. I told her that I couldn’t recall it happening. Since she was in a frenzy, I didn’t bother telling her that if no one ever texted me again, I wouldn’t mind one bit. Since one of my challenges with ASD is struggling with social interaction, I don’t seek friends to text with.
We share having a constant companion, but it is two different companions. My ASD tendency is to focus on one thing at a time. My friend’s ADHD tendency is to focus on many things at once. If the two of us could be one, we might have this focusing thing down pat.
My friend is always on the go. I don’t mean just coming and going in and out the door. Even when I’m sitting with her in her living room, she’ll get up mid-air in a conversation to look for something or tend to a task that needs finishing. Although I have a hard time sitting still myself, she could run circles around me.
I don’t have to worry about a lull in conversation because there isn’t one with my friend. She does most of the talking which is fine by me whether she is sitting down or moving.
She asked me to help with a task she had been putting off for weeks. That’s another difference. She can walk away from something unfinished because she’ll think of something else that needs doing. But I’ll get a guilt complex if I don’t finish something I started. If I try to do more than one task at a time, well, it isn’t pretty. I was glad to do the task because it was organizing files and such activity was right up my ASD alley.
My ADHD friend is fun to be around with a healthy sense of humor. I’m more a live-by-the-rules kind of person, but being around her helps loosen me up. We share having a passion. She sews and I write.
When I told her about my ASD, she didn’t show any surprise. I don’t think she was. Any more than I was when she told me she had ADHD. There are some traits that ASD’s and ADHD’s have in common such as creativity. Some folks live with both ASD and ADHD. As for the differences, we appreciate them and work around them. That’s just what friends do.