for Hot Tips from an ADHD Mum

Unique Differences of ADHD and Autism in Women with Dr. Jacinta Thomson

On this episode of The ADHD Mums Podcast, Jane welcomes Dr. Jacinta Thompson, a clinical psychologist with expertise in ADHD and autism, for a discussion on the intersection of these neurodivergences. Jacinta introduces the complexity of distinguishing between ADHD and autism, emphasising the unique challenges faced by individuals who may exhibit traits of both conditions. Jane and Jacinta delve into the outdated stereotypes associated with autism and how these perceptions can hinder accurate recognition.

Jacinta sheds light on the DSM criteria for autism, highlighting differences in relating to others, communication, and interacting with the environment, and advocates for a neuroaffirming approach, emphasising identity-first language to acknowledge that neurodivergent conditions are intrinsic parts of an individual’s identity. The conversation touches on how neurodivergent brains process information, sensory sensitivities, and the need for routine.


The discussion takes a personal turn as Jane shares her experience with a friend’s autism diagnosis and the nuances of social interactions. Jacinta explains the subtle ways ADHD and autism traits may manifest in social settings, exploring the challenges of non-verbal communication, understanding implied meanings, and navigating sensory overload. The conversation highlights the importance of recognising the individualised nature of these neurodivergences and tailoring support accordingly, fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities involved.

If you’d like to know more about Dr Jacinta Thomson check her out here:

Disclaimer from Dr Jacinta Thomson

It is crucial to note that the information shared in the following episode is for general educational and informational purposes only. The content presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition, and may not fully capture the nuances of your experience. This conversation does not constitute medical or psychiatric advice and is not a therapeutic session. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for personalised guidance from your treating health practitioner.

If you or someone you know is seeking assistance or clarification regarding ADHD or Autism, we strongly encourage you to consult with a qualified healthcare professional who can provide tailored advice based on a thorough assessment of your specific circumstances.


Hello and welcome to the next episode of ADHD Mums. I have Jacinta Thompson here, one of our most popular interviewees ever. She has the episode, How to Get a Diagnosis Part 1 and 2, which is still one of our most downloaded episodes. ever. Jacinta looks very uncomfortable as I talk about how great she is. I will give you a quick overview about Jacinta. Jacinta is a clinical psychologist and she has extensive experience in public and private health care. She's taught at universities, she's presented her research internationally, and she's also done some public speaking. Jacinta has two young children and she is particularly passionate about helping parents cope in such a challenging perinatal period. Jacinta has done a couple of episodes with me, and she's also in her own practice up here on the Sunshine Coast I have had amazing feedback coming in to me about Jacinta and her therapy, so much so I thought about booking in myself, but I thought let's not. Burn Jacinta out with all of Jane's energies. So welcome to you Jacinta. Thanks Jane. It's good to be back. I've had a lot of fun, the conversations that we've had previously and I thought why not cram another one into December? It's not like it's already sort of sensory overload month. It's another one on top. Well, I've actually been cancelling interviewees all over the place and I cleared my schedule as soon as you reached out and said you'd be willing to do another one. So I've been very excited about this because I think it's such a great topic. Do you want to give us an overview? Because I don't want, it was your idea Jacinta, and I just think it's so relevant. one of the biggest commonly, you know, co occurring diagnosis is autism. So I thought it was really important just to talk a bit more about what it looks like when someone might have both ADHD and autistic characteristics. What sort of patterns we see professionally, clinically, in terms of how one might sort of show up. And maybe even masking or camouflaging the other and then that sort of swaps around later in life or in different life stages. I think maybe up front I'll just clarify in my neuro affirming practice, I use the term autistic, which is an identity first explanation rather than saying someone like a person with autism as if it's sort of like a bag or an outfit that you can sort of pick up and put down. It's very central and fundamental to someone's identity just as ADHD is. And I always try to say autism and I save the term autistic spectrum disorders or ASD only in clinical reference to a diagnosis, say in a diagnostic report, try to drop the D because I don't think it's a disorder. I think it's a difference and it can absolutely be something that is a strength if sort of recognized and supported appropriately. And just another thing on semantics today, if I say all DHD, which is a U DHD, that's a common reference to, for someone who's been diagnosed with both ADHD and autism. It's just a bit of a shortcut. Yeah, perfect. This is so interesting already. Would you mind, because I, I think there's a lot of people in this podcast that would never want to offend anybody or say the wrong thing. And also we've got terrible working memories. So I'm always trying to be careful in my podcast that I'm not offensive to anybody, but I also cannot remember whether it's person with autism or autistic because I actually listened to you and thought, I actually thought that I read that you should say, person with autism because they're a person first. So now I'm a bit confused, would you mind discussing why? Because I, I think that will make sense to me. Yeah. So previously when it comes to acknowledging a mental health diagnosis, something like depression or even schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, we Consider those mental health conditions or diagnoses something that doesn't necessarily need to be lifelong. So in other ways, we could talk about them as sort of episodic difficulties or symptoms. So in that sense, we, we, we're taught to use that person first language. So person with depression or. An adult who's experiencing anxiety, for example, when it comes to neurodevelopmental conditions, so we're talking about autism and ADHD specifically in this podcast today, they are exactly that, they're sort of neurodevelopmental, they're differences in the way the brain is structured and the way that the brain functions that is there from birth. And it's there for someone's entire life. So it's not like depressive vulnerability. Someone goes in and out of depressive episodes. It's something that is always a part of that person. And quite central, we are talking about the way that the brain is organized. And the brain is the lens through which we perceive and interact with the world every single moment of every single day. So it's. It's very fundamental and I think it's part of this movement of trying to destigmatize having ADHD or being autistic. It's about saying, yes, this is very much how I am in this world, how I experience this world. And it's not a problem. It's actually pretty cool that I have this difference. So just try to own it a bit more. I can't sort of centralize to our identity. Oh, perfect. That actually makes total sense to me. Okay. So this is this, I'm loving this already. Sorry. I thought I might give a bit of a personal spin on this because I'll struggle not to because of my ADHD. So I'm just going to go there, right? So when I took my daughter up to get diagnosed with ADHD to this beautiful equine farm here on the Sunshine Coast, they kind of played with animals and did the diagnosis all in the one play. It was beautiful. Anyway, basically the clinical psychologist there who I love, but won't, I'm not naming her just because. For her own privacy, not actually love her and I think she's brilliant. She was saying that she thought that I had some autistic traits. And that she thought that I could, or should, could, should, go up and see her. And I was a little bit confused because I went into high research mode, as we all do. And I tried to find the differences between Autistic and ADHD is. I was just wondering, in regards to high masking mums, it can be often extremely difficult to even find the difference, to even discover that you are, have ADHD, let alone autism or be autistic. What would be those differences? that you would see? Because I found no information on that anywhere. Yeah, it's a bit of a, it's a bit of mind boggling really because if we just came over to the DSM, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that clinical psychologists and most mental health professionals will look at the criteria there and sort of match up how does this person presenting in front of me tick off these boxes and are there enough sort of ticks in the boxes to reach the threshold that the powers that be have sort of determined that that's clinically significant and need a warranty of. of that diagnosis. So if you look at like autism and then you look at ADHD, they're actually completely different profiles. There is no overlapping or commonalities between those behaviors or those characteristics on each side, which is. It's just so far removed from what, how we actually sort of present in real life. There is significant amount of parallels and a lot of behaviours that could sit in sort of, you know, be driven by an ADHD sort of need or by an autistic need, but on the outside, those behaviours might look exactly the same. So go figure, hey? That is not what I have read. And not what is widely described. So I'm kind of mind blown already because a lot of people say, Oh, I think there's the stats are, and look, you, you'll know better than I am, but it's like one in 25 have ADHD, one in 36 are autistic. And then there's that blend of overlap and it can look similar and it's hard to know which is which, but you're actually kind of changing that already, which is kind of mind blowing to me because I was always in this impression of, how do you even know? If you have ADHD or if you're autistic, and then I was trying to figure out how many people on my podcast are possibly autistic women that have no idea. Yeah, I, I, so what I'm, I guess what I'm saying is if you're a pure, hardcore DSM enthusiast, then then there is no sort of similarities there. In inverted commas here, it's easy that they're that distinct that they can be pulled apart without any sort of major effort. But in reality, you're right. I think for so many people and mums as well, ADHD mums, they probably have had these little inklings, little questions about, okay, I've got a sort of range of Neurodivergent characteristics or traits or behaviors or struggles. It seems like maybe a bulk of them can be explained by ADHD, but maybe there's a few sort of extra things or sort of overflow as my own psychiatrist sort of calls them that this is sort of the pattern of what I. Typically, you see is, is moms that come in and they sort of have the ADHD evaluated and then it might be years or months or years later, once the ADHD symptoms have stabilized, that those sort of inklings and those questions and queries start to get a little bit louder because they, they sort of want to know what else could be, what could be the sort of explanation for these other differences that they're noticing more and more. And you mentioned there, Jane, that the overlap in sort of the prevalence there. So the statistics that you shared there. The range varies so widely in the research, but roughly 1 in 25 adults are ADHD, so about 4%, as you said, and 1 in 36 are autistic, but about 60 percent of those individuals will have both characteristics from autism. of both ADHD and autism. So what that really means is that we're actually more likely to have both than we are to be sort of a pure ADHD or, or a purely autistic. So in reality, there's going to be a lot of moms on here who have ADHD, but they also have. clinically significant autistic characteristics. Now that doesn't necessarily make you autistic. Uh, as I said, there's just so much overlap. And it doesn't necessarily make it a problem. It's not something you need to, you know, pick up the phone and quickly make a doctor's appointment. Shit, I think I could have missed 36 years of being autistic. It's, it's just something I I think as we're doing here, it's just building that curiosity around what, what might this mean for you? What can it look like? What sort of severity, do those sort of differences like impact your life or your functioning and what sorts of supports might you need to assist with that sort of overflow of stuff around the traditional ADHD struggles? Yeah, absolutely. And the DMs that I get, which are extensive, there is a huge amount of them that come in. Most of the women list ASD and ADHD in their children. So that would reflect. possibly what we're talking about. So let's break through what does autistic traits look like in, in mums. I mean, I suppose there's always the Rayman idea, but how is it different from that? So again, that really comes from our outdated stereotyped images of autism, and that's really what the research that went into the criteria in the DSM. It comes from the sort of white, white boys with those very overt or like externalized behaviors, sort of the rocking in the corner, the obsessive playing with trains or rotating wheels on their trucks for sort of hours and hours a day at the exclusion of all other activities. So I guess you probably see that a lot of us would have that image in our head. I think that's still like a stigma that actually is, is associated with a lot of fear and worry for parents as well. Once the autism. A question or word gets presented, there's a lot of those images that come to mind that I think a lot of parents, especially of our generation and older, they obviously, there's just so much uncertainty there about the extent of what disability might be attached to that, that label or that diagnosis. But like with ADHD, we've come so far in recognizing that ADHD is not just, can you do struggle to sit still in your chair? It's not just you're jumping out of your seat to answer every question in the classroom. It's not just that you turning up late everywhere. And again, we, we understand that people have developed, people develop really clever, sophisticated and effective coping mechanisms. All those compensatory strategies, like I think we've talked about before. Spending hours and hours just hyper focusing on the diary and the schedule and making sure everything in the week for the family lines up so perfectly. So on a bit of paper, you're not going to tick the box. Are you late everywhere? As the DSM would sort of suggest about an ADHD or with inattentive problems because you've got those sort of systems in place. So what we're trying to do in a really neuroaffirming assessment is to get underneath What those behaviors sort of look like, and then figure out what sorts of strategies do people have in place that essentially mask or camouflage or compensate for those ADHD and or autistic differences. So in the DSM, tell me if this is like. It's just a bit of an info dump, Jane. But the, so the DCI listen to, I'm like dying inside. I'm so excited. So just like, I'm like so pumped. So just go for it, I reckon. Okay. All right. Just reign me in if you need to. Oh, mate, I will, but I doubt I will. Sorry. You go. Oh, someone needs to, need to bring us a mimosa or something. It's been here a while. So in the DSM, the autism is characterized basically by different ways of relating to others. So in terms of non verbal and verbal interactions, communication, differences in the way autistic people might initiate and maintain relationships, and also different ways of Interacting with the environment around us. So this might be processing sensory information in a really overly sensitive way or underly sensitive way. Navigating change and sort of disruptions to routine and plans. A really, really deep enjoyment of special interests, which Again, there's quite a bit of an overlap there as we can imagine with ADHD sort of hyper fixation and also repetitive behaviors or use of objects that basically give an autistic brain a sense of sameness and repetition and sort of routine predictability that sort of gives their central nervous system a sense of safety in such an overstimulating, overloading world around them. And I should note as well that that's not a verbatim definition from the DSM, because the DSM uses a lot of medicalized pathologizing language, like deficits of social emotional reciprocity. It's like, well, what, what does that actually mean? And I'm quite open with the fact that I've been diagnosed with ADHD and autism. And I, I wouldn't say that I have a complete deficit or inability to communicate with people, but I definitely go about it in a, in a different way. And those differences can be really subtle. Whether that's because I'm using my own social camouflaging and masking strategies, or they can be a bit more obvious, especially when I'm relaxed in informal space with fellow Neurokin. So it's not just your DSM, here's the rocking, the non verbal, the boy with the trains. There's such a beautiful diversity within the autistic community, as there is with ADHD. So it's, you know, up to people like me, and I guess other health professionals, to really try and recognize when those, those sort of overflow of ADHD traits could be explained by autism, and really harness that, that sort of understanding in a way that just It's so validating, it makes so much more sense, and again, it's about targeting those supports or treatment sort of strategies in a more individualised way. Ah, that's so interesting. I had a coffee date with one of my good friends, you should have joined us Jacinta, you would have loved it actually. And she's just been diagnosed autistic. And we were at the park with our kids for three hours because we're both on school holidays. So we were there for three hours. Our kids were actually asking us to leave, right? But we were just going for it on personal development and psychology and who we are as people. It was a. Great chat. I mean, look, when you find the right mums that, that you really get you, and it's such a safe space, it's just so therapeutic. I find there's nothing more therapeutic than talking to another mum who really gets it, even if they're neurotypical, someone who just really gets it. So, She was saying to me that, because it was quite mind blowing for her to be diagnosed autistic, and she was only diagnosed because her daughter was, and the clinical psych, the same one I referred to on the farm, eyeballed her and said, I think you need to come and see me as well, and she went. And she was saying about how, I mean, socially, I find her to be amazing, possibly because I'm diverse myself, right? So I don't notice or I don't really know, but she said to me that she has always been quite good socially, but she prefers one to one conversations in depth than a group. And she was wondering whether Because she's very intuitive. She was actually saying whether she wonders whether she feels the room, she feels the emotion in the other person because she doesn't think she can't read the faces. It's, she gets it, but she doesn't, she thinks it might be almost kinesthetic, not actually the face. Yeah. Or possibly she's just getting all of the information in our brains are receiving billions of bits of sensory information every second. And then a neurotypical brain. You know, sort of a metaphor is maybe they have a funnel in a way that their executive sort of thinking part of their brain can actually pick and choose which parts of that environment or that social interaction is really important. So we're going to hold on to, you know, you're going to funnel out the rest of it, filter out the rest of the noise essentially, and just focus on the bits that are important, but neurodivergent brains will, there's no funnel, there's no filter. They're really. Taking it all in, which obviously can be incredibly like overwhelming and exhausting, especially if you're somewhere where there is lots of background noise or music or it's really hot or you haven't eaten in a few hours and your stomach's rumbling really badly. So it can feel really flooding. But I definitely, I definitely relate to that preference, I think, for conversing one on one. I think once you start to add people to a group conversation, those dynamics get a lot more complicated. And especially if you've got ADHD and you've got that sort of working memory challenges that it can be so hard to follow multiple sort of trains of thought and conversation and know when the right like micro moment is to sort of jump in and participate and how much is too much and are people interested in. It's just so So much information to be sort of monitoring and like analyzing at any one time. It can make that quite taxing or draining and I think stressful too. So what would be some little known characteristics that we might see mums that you can't get on Google? Because I googled all of this before and I was like, this is all stuff you can find online, right? But it's the new, the little things that I really want to discuss. What would be some of the little things that you can't find on Google that you would be looking for in a session? Maybe what I can. Give or walk you through an example of like a very generic sort of situation. If a mom is in a social situation, like you're just describing before Jane, and we can think about how the nuances of say ADHD and the idiosyncrasies of autism might, they might be this sort of delicate, but complicated little interplay of how. They sort of mask or compensate for each other. So again, on paper or behaviorally, it might not be that obvious, but it's, yeah, it's really interesting to sort of think about what could actually be going on behind the scenes and how each of those sort of conditions might be driving that. So if we think about like an untreated ADHD mom, who's also got autistic. traits or a diagnosis of autism. If she is in a social setting, she might appear like outwardly engaged and confident making eye contact and participating in that sort of back and forth conversation that we all think perceive as sort of normal, neuro normative. But on closer inspection, she might really struggle with the subtleties of non verbal communication, such as difficulty understanding implied meanings. or sarcasm. Actually on that note, my husband, poor guy, gets so frustrated that I just don't understand sarcasm. I don't really get his jokes. I mean, they are dad jokes, but they're probably not that bad. And I set up our Christmas tree the other day and it's It's like a hundred dollar one I got off Amazon and it's just all these like LED lights. It's basically just a rave in my lounge room and the sensory syncing part of my brain is like and then he said you're gonna you're gonna give the kids epaulets. C for Christmas. And I immediately stopped and I was horrified. I looked at him. I was like, that is not funny. Like, why would you even joke about that? And then about three days later, it finally dawned on me, he's like, Oh, cause photosensitivity could possibly do seizures. And I was laughing. He's like, what are you laughing about? And I was like, I just got your joke. He's like, yeah, okay. Three days later, you know, that's pretty good for you actually. I'll take it. But in, so in a social situation though, potentially if other people are laughing that all the HD mom. They'll pick up on other people laughing and they'll join in too, but they might not have actually sort of understood the subtext or implied meaning of what the joke was. So it can feel sort of inauthentic and again, it's quite taxing. There's a lot of that monitoring and analysis going on. I know I've got a lot of. Autistic clients or ADHD mums that tell me there's so much planning and preparation and analysis that goes into just eye contact. So even though it might look like I'm making sort of appropriate eye contact in their own heads, they're really trying to think about how much eye contact is. It's normal to show that I'm interested and engaged in this conversation versus I don't want to make too much eye contact and sort of intimidate them or, or sort of freak them out. But then at the same time, direct eye contact might be viscerally really uncomfortable for them. So they try to pick a point, whether that's between the other person's sort of eyebrows or slightly off to the side of their face. So the. The conversational partner sort of has experience of, they're listening to me, they're making eye contact with the other person's using a whole lot of masking strategies. Yeah, really complicated and distracting ones to, to just try and behave, I guess, in that neuro normative way. You've probably read a lot of those articles and in a really good blogs on the internet, Jane, they talk about how a lot of the, some of the traits of ADHD and autism can be really contradictory to each other, which. It just sort of leads to, uh, a bit of a shit show or it's a hot mess. So of the most common things we talk about and we see is how the ADHD brain craves stimulation and novelty and really doesn't like routine or really rejects like scheduling and planning too far ahead, or maybe it wants to, but it just finds that really hard to do. But an autistic brain is very easily overwhelmed and overstimulated and. Absolutely needs routine and sameness to feel regulated and controlled. So you can imagine that's, that's quite a friction point between very different needs for those sort of two parts of the neurotype that that person lives with. We also see a lot of overlap with sort of sensory sensitivities and executive functioning challenges. So an ADHD mum might find it really difficult to like schedule in all these sort of extra social events or obligations. So if we think about all the social events coming up, it's a good context for untangling. a few of the sort of similarities and those differences between an autistic brain and an ADHD brain So if you've got an event coming up, ADHD brain might really naturally struggle to schedule that in, to fit that in, then to do all the planning that goes around that. It might be organizing a new outfit, booking in a babysitter, figuring out how you're going to get there and back. I think it's a lot of moms that carry that cognitive load of all that organization. So that can be really stressful and difficult, prone to careless errors. But then an autistic brain might be so overwhelmed by not having a highly detailed plan that this anxiety fuels the hyper focus on organization. So the ADHD is my struggle to turn up on time, but because an autistic brain just absolutely can't cope with anything unexpected or potentially risk an awkward social entrance to the event by turning up a bit late, then it's like the autistic part and that anxiety will fuel someone's hyper detailed sort of preparation and planning. So instead of turning up late, they might actually be like an hour or more early. A lot of my. There's this sort of running joke where they will tell me if there's a dinner on, they'll tell me that it starts half an hour later than it actually does, because then I'll turn up on time versus if they tell me it starts at six, I'll be there probably somewhere between five and five 30 when I'm still in the middle of like witching hour and definitely not ready for visitor. And that's, because my autistic brain is just desperately can't handle the thought of things. There's traffic or the parking situation is more complicated than I anticipated, or like again, a multitude of possible deviations that I just can't even fathom how I would cope with those things in the moment. So the DSMs ask about ADHD is, are you often late? But you can see in that, in that example, there in the autistic brain is does a good job at sort of masking. Those sort of challenges with organization, timing. So say we've, you know, we've got everything organized. We turn up to this Christmas party. Yes. Okay. I'm half an hour early. That's fine. Everyone knows me in the event itself, obviously an autistic brain might feel really anxious and overloaded and uncertain, not knowing who will be there. How perfectly the outfit matches the dress code. And for me, as we know, how long can I cope with this annoying underwire straplessness? bra until I feel like I implode. Feeling uncomfortable with the whole small talk thing, what's the right amount of eye contact, preferring to hold back during interactions. Cause a lot of autistic people just love observing and sort of taking it all in. And, it's that hyper processing that happens. Ideally, we have a little bit of space in, and room to do that, without it being the sort of an intense group conversation. But on the flip side, the ADHD part of my brain, a lot of other ADHD brains is all excited, dressed up. energetic, sensory seeking. So it's really going to rally a lot of that, that motivation, that drive just to bounce around the room, approach new people, initiate conversations. That person might have a few sort of. Prescripted ways of engaging in small talk, if that doesn't come so naturally. And there's certainly a lot of that sort of analysis and awareness of eye contact and, and body language that an autistic brain might do a lot of masking, compensating around. So. From the outside, that particular person, there's certain flavors of me in there, but a lot of moms I know listening to this podcast, they don't necessarily look neurodivergent, whether that's ADHD or, or, and or autistic, but they certainly are. And they're just doing a whole lot of work behind the scenes to sort of manage how those differences might present. I, I always think about that duck thing. I think you've mentioned a few times, Jane is like on the surface of the water, the duck looks really calm and grounded and. Chilled out, but under the surface, those legs are going million miles an hour just to stay afloat in that particular environment. Uh, and that's right. That's what I feel personally a lot in social events, but mostly, mostly social events where I'm not overly familiar with the people or the sorts of topics that they would be talking about. Like my husband's Christmas party with his construction in the construction industry. There's a lot of conversations that I have no personal interest and or sort of knowledge about and we all know that ADHD brains and autistic brains, their interest based nervous system. So they're going to find it really hard to sustain conversations that aren't of that sort of intrinsic interest. A lot of that landed with me and my little throne. It's like, Oh, this is, I do like to arrive an hour early, wherever I go. But I always thought that was like anxiety about being late. Like I've always relied on my anxiety to move me. So when people say, Oh, are you always late? You have ADHD. I'm never late. Ever. Because I'm, like, freakishly early, because I anticipate every single thing that could happen on the way. Overplan it, and then over, yeah, and then over. Yeah, so it's a difficult one, isn't it? I mean, obviously not for you, because you're a clinical psychologist, but as a mum, and you're like, Well, I'm not always late, but I thought that was heavily masking ADHD. I mean, jeez, it is a bit confusing. No, but it absolutely can be, you're just saying it's driven by anxiety and the rates of anxiety in neurodivergent people, especially even ADHD is significantly higher than the general population. So, there is a lot of running on adrenaline and there's been a lot of mistakes, right? A lot of Feeling let down, letting other people's down. There's a lot of actually trauma that goes into trying to live in a neurotypical world that I think fuels that anxiety. And, and there's a lot of other factors to temperament. Maybe you grew up in a family where punctuality was a really, really valued sort of trait to quality of behavioral trait. So there's a lot of other factors that I think would influence the way that someone experiences sort of these. Things like time management and punctuality and organization and strategizing and so forth. So I don't in any way mean to sort of simplify it as, well, if you do this, therefore you're probably also autistic. It's just that in these situations, it's like the, the autistic part is actually a source of anxiety because by definition, the autistic brain really struggles to cope and adapt flexibly in situations where something unexpected happens or something. You know, pulls the plan off track. Yeah, got it. Okay. There seems to be a common pattern when mums are getting diagnosed and treated for ADHD, either as a child or an adult. And then months or years later, they start to question if they then might be autistic. So you mentioned earlier in some of your other episodes around your personal journey. Can you share with us how that went for you in what sequence? Yeah, so I was initially, I think, I think misdiagnosed with narcolepsy, although narcolepsy and ADHD do commonly co occur. But then as I sort of went into uni years really, that was re evaluated and reinterpreted as ADHD combined. So I took stimulant medication on and off for most of my 20s, which really helped with those particular symptoms. And then, yeah, it was quite a shock when my ADHD psychiatrist, and then I followed up with a second opinion, actually proposed it. Some of those sort of leftover neurodivergent traits might be better explained by also being autistic. And even as a clinical psychologist at that stage, I had the immediate, like, fear response as well. Like, does that mean I'm gonna be non verbal, like, sort of rocking in a corner, not gonna be able to progress in my, with my career aspirations and so forth? Which, of course, Like, of course not. I'm me. I've always been me. And the trajectory sort of, as I sort of decide that, of course, that's not going to be me. I am who I am. I've always been this person, regardless of whether someone's clarified the sort of neurodivergent diagnoses or not. So it really doesn't have to be a limitation. We just need to understand it. So a lot of those sort of extra or the leftover traits that the psychiatrist. Yeah, identified for me were the really extreme sensory sensitivities, the rigidity. So around like routine and needing everything to be really detailed and organized and planned to a T. And again, ADHDers can be like that. It's like, what happens if things don't go to plan? ADHDers can be a bit more creative and flexible in their, like, problem solving and troubleshooting. Whereas an autistic brain can be quite overloaded and shut down with that sort of stress. And I found, like, a lot of my social mannerisms to evolve after I The ADHD side of things were sort of stabilized with the medication. So if we think about that example before, the ADHD masking, maybe some of that social anxiety for the autistic brain in a social setting, all of a sudden the impulsivity and the restlessness and sort of that excitability is like dialed down a few notches. medication. So in a way it's like I lost a bit of that armory or the masking that came from untreated ADHD, at least in those like interpersonal settings. So that is a common pattern that I see clinically is mums So, um, yeah. Often, yeah, like you said before, kids are getting sort of diagnosed and parents are like, well, I recognize a lot of those traits. They get the ADHD evaluated and treated. And then a few years later, they're like, okay, well, some of that stuff has sort of settled down for me. But now I noticed like how awkward I feel in social settings, or I just hate small talk and I just copy bullet and I don't have the energy. Wait, that's. That's just me. It's like, they sort of start to see this. Oh no, I did that on the weekend. I circulated around a prep birthday party, which I haven't been to any all year. I always send my husband because I hate them. I can't stand them. They're like my pet hate. And my son said to me, mommy, you never come and meet my friends, mums, and of course that tugs at your heartstrings. I was like, don't worry, I'm going to buffer up for it. I had to cancel nippers because I couldn't do both. Yeah, I had to cancel nippers because I couldn't do both. I can't, I can't actually do both. That's not going to work for me. So to cancel nippers, to go to this party, and then I went there and found the most neurodivergent mums I could find because you can kind of pick out the kids. Oh, that's amazing. Yes, you get a reader. It was terrible. I felt really bad. Like it's not, this is not a very, well, actually it was well intentioned, actually. So I figured out who was who from the mix, and who I'd seen at the Christmas concert with headphones on and sensory issues, clearly. They had water guns, so all the, some of the kids couldn't cope with the water being shot at them. And I was looking at who was comforting them, and I was like eyeballing them, like, that's who I need to talk to. Then I would then go and isolate them into a corner. And we would go deep and dark, and I had the best time. I only spoke to about Three people, but I had the best time with them all. And then I said to my son afterwards, mate, like, how do you feel about this kid? Really like them? How about we do a play date? And he's like, I don't like any of those kids. And I was like, come on. Well, tough, tough. You will be friends. We will be friends. That's, that is an interest. I think it's a really interesting thing that you bring up because a lot of mums who are medicated get that initial excitement. They get that feeling. They're very excited on the DMS. Probably three, four, six months later, they're messaging me again. So this is such an interesting topic because what is left? What a great point. Yeah, it's like the differences as well. We're not, we're not looking for deficits. It's the differences in the way people communicate both in terms of the content. So obviously you and I, we sort of share a preference there for deep and meaningful sort of philosophical abstract conversational content over. Discussing the weather, for example, but there's also a difference in, in the way in which you communicate. So it's, it's not in a neurotypical world. It's not very common just to go the first time I've met you, let's sit down and let's. really pull apart this sort of existential threads of meaning of life type of stuff. But that just feels so, so right and so connecting and so bonding, especially for, I'm just going to say neurodivergent brains there. So there's those differences. And again, from an outsider's perspective, they go, no, Jane's fine. She doesn't, poor girl, she's got all these. She's done all these cool things. I can see her here at the party. She's deep in conversation, totally connected, paying attention. Like she couldn't possibly be near a divergent, but then once you get underneath the behavior and you actually sort of tease apart those idiosyncrasies, then you go, okay, there are some differences here. So how do we. Um, and I think it's really important for us to be able to better understand those differences. A lot of it could be ADHD. Absolutely. Are there sort of leftover things that maybe aren't so neatly explained and what else could be sort of, yeah, like influencing that. And same thing for me. Like, I remember before my wedding, my husband and I was like over 10 years ago now, but I remember. Losing so much sleep and sometimes just randomly crying, trying to figure out how I would like introduce different like tables, like different domains of friends and family from different parts of our life, like sort of bring them together in some cohesive group where everyone was sort of finding common ground to talk about. And I remember my, again, my husband was trying to convince me that that wasn't my responsibility. And people generally don't find that. Too hard. They don't need someone standing is sort of coaching them through that. And I actually really, I didn't believe him. I was like, well, how that's so complicated though. How, like, where do you start? And what about if you feel awkward and you don't want to be in the conversation anymore, but you, you don't. You don't know how to get out, or you're at the same table together and you're stuck there for four hours, and it's just like, people don't generally sort of think and overanalyze that sort of stuff. Like, you don't, you don't need to plan for that. But then again, the autistic part of my brain was like, well, how do I not plan for that? So that was, things like that I get really lost in. This is so interesting because I only started medication, I don't know, I'm trying to remember now, it would be like the start of the year, let's say May or June or something, I can't remember. And we planned our wedding. My husband and I, so we got, like, we never had a wedding. So he promised me if I ever wanted to have a wedding, we'd have one. So we planned it, let's say January, December last year. And it was in August. So, when I, I've planned an event, not medicated, and then I've lived through the event, medicated. There was a lot of questions in my mind when I was in the event, about what was I thinking when I planned the event. And I think when you, when you become medicated, and then you do change a little bit, I feel like I have anyway. And you're still living through the decisions that you made for yourself when you were unmedicated. And there is some strong differences around what I would have done if medicated Jane had have made. Yeah, and that was a really different thing because the week of the wedding, I could not cope. And it was, yeah, and that was, it was really hard because I was thinking, why have I, this was me, I planned this, but yet now I'm here. I'm not feeling the way I expected. It was a really interesting mix now when you talk about, yeah, medicating ADHD and then what's left. Yeah. That's super interesting. Okay. So you were talking about your diagnosis. Just like getting a diagnosis of ADHD as an adult, like many of your listeners, Jane, I think my secondary diagnosis of autism also came as a mix of relief and its own challenges. On one hand, understanding the all DHT neurotype can provide. a lot of clarity and self awareness and a huge amount of self compassion, but it might also bring a sense of grief and missed opportunities for support and coping strategies earlier in life. Nonetheless, I think overall it's been a huge, hugely valuable experience for me to help, I guess, to, to learn about both. Sort of parts of my brain and and the unique needs I've had the opportunity to be able to recognize and understand About sort of both those neurotypes that sometimes work together really well like best friends and sometimes they're like my young children sort of brawling ripping down the Christmas tree and sending my Yeah. My kitchen, my lounge room into just such a mess. I feel like sometimes that the, the autism and the ADHD are completely in conflict. But again, if I sort of have that knowledge of why I feel that way at that time, then I try to ask myself, which part do I feel is like louder or those needs a lot of right now. And how can I prioritize meeting those and then reassess. So an example of that process would. So be at a Christmas event, if I'm really struggling to follow a conversation and I'm sort of asking questions about things that have already been discussed, or I just can't filter out the background music and the noise and the movement and everyone just having a good time. But if I start to feel like that sensory overload, then I think, right, my. The autistic part of my brain really needs me to manage that, regulate that sensory input or the environment before I could possibly do anything else that's meaningful or interesting or rewarding. So often that will mean that I, I need to leave or I need to take some quiet time outside or. I do scrolling on my phone in the, in the bathroom for a little bit, but my husband, he's also very supportive of me just smoke bombing, which is just like just bailing without doing the whole near normative go around the room and sort of think and thank everyone Which I want to do, and I like the value that that gratitude represents, but if I'm already at 90 out of 100 with censoring social overload, then I know that's going to be too much like you said with the nippers. You just have to cut your losses and send a text later. That feels like a much more accommodating way of dealing with it. Oh yeah, there's nothing wrong with a disappear. I disappeared from my own Christmas party. The other day, I, and it was my own party, I was the owner of the party, it was my party. At your house? No, it was at a venue in Brisbane and I pretended to go to the toilet. That's better. It was, it was so funny because I was pretending to go to the toilet and the reason I, the reason what set me off was I saw all of these people setting up like those photo booths and they had the silly hats and all of the stuff and I saw them all starting. And I was like, no, I can't, I'm out, I'm out. And anyway, so I walked, I got my bag and I was like, I reckon there's a, I reckon I'm either going to have to do photos with every person here with all this weird shit on, which I'm going to hate. Or I could go to the toilet and I thought I'll go to the toilet real quick and go up to the Sunshine Coast and I'll hightail it out. As I'm going to the toilet, of course, because I'm spatially just. Ridiculously unaware. I couldn't find the exit because that's who I am. I can't find any exit ever. So I'm trying to disappear as I'm trying to exit, right? Someone comes and grabs me and goes, you're not leaving, are you? I completely denied it. I was like, Oh no, of course not. I'm just going to the toilet. Then this lady had just seen me in the toilet, left some things in my car. Yeah. She'd seen me in the toilet. She saw me and I was grabbed and I was like, Where is the exit? I need to leave. And she's like, you should have just pulled this, this, the fire alarm button. Like just everyone fails into the car. Oh, it was so bad. And then I was trying to get into the lift and there was someone else in there that I was trying to avoid and I was out and I was in, and then my husband was ringing me and I was like, I've got to get out of here. And I said, he's like, Tara, Tara, I just had to get out. And then people messaged me later on. Oh, I didn't get to say goodbye. And I was like, oh, I'm so sorry. I just had to go. Yeah, but even then it's like we, we don't actually need to, we don't need to say, sorry, do it. We can actually just be really authentic and just acknowledge the fact that I reached my limit and I really enjoyed it for the time that I was there. But obviously I wanted to quit while I was ahead. And it was so good to see you. It was like, that's it. We can just normalize that rather than having to be like, Oh, I'm sorry, I do it in a neurotypical way. Unfortunately, my two year old is like hyper social and anytime we go somewhere, he's really. Drawn to wanting to like wave and hug and interact to be picked up by pretty much everyone in the room and that that's even in Public places like just going to a cafe. He wants to interact with everyone in the space So if we have any other your appointments or you like Christmas events and family do's which again? I generally really enjoy but I would prefer when I'm reaching my limit that I, I very subtle exit out the back door or whatever it is, but he will be like, no, he's like the hug, hug, hug. He's like very, very demanding of those, those sort of formalized farewells. And meanwhile, I'm just like trying to hide behind a curtain. So it's been like, tell me when you're done. Oh yeah, especially my kids are huggers too, and I always stand there like a board because I'm like, I'm a non consensual hugger. I'm like, you can hug me, but I'm not gonna move. I'm gonna make it really awkward because I don't want you to hug me again. Again, let's just be authentic and just You say, cheers, I'm not a hugger. My husband hugs me and I just stand there like a bored, he's like, that was, that did not feel reciprocated. And I was like, well, it wasn't. So, yeah, it's a whole nother conversation, but we need to be, we need to be sane advocating for ourselves. Right. Yeah. And look, if my kids didn't want to hug someone, I would say, just say that you don't want to hug. But sometimes I just feel like it's so off putting for people to hug someone that's standing there like a board. They never go in twice. That's just been my So what should our ADHD mums do if they think they might have autistic characteristics? As we've, we've covered today, Jane, I think it can be really tricky to tease apart ADHD and autism, and especially for people who have other sort of co occurring complexities like anxiety or depression. or learning disorders or dyslexia, dysgraphia, anything like that. So really don't feel like it's your responsibility or it's your job to have that specialist ability to be able to tease those apart. Yes, you can deep dive into research. I suspect a lot of moms will do that after listening to this podcast today, but don't feel like you've got to figure it out. And on the other side of the same coin, I think it's also important to acknowledge that self identification is really valid as well. So if you're reading more about autism, and especially high masking or high camouflaging variants of autism, and you think, wow, there's a lot of that that really does fit for me, then It's perfectly okay for you just to build that curiosity and that self understanding and to, and to run with that. It's just about what works for you and how that, how that helps you. You really only need to look into a formalized diagnosis with a clinical psychologist or other appropriately qualified health professional if you're wanting to look at supports like NDIS or disability support pension, things like that, that have more formalized acceptance criteria. So there's no medical treatment, sort of gold standard for autism because it's not a disease. You don't need treatment and you can't be cured. So we got to stop looking for a fix, which is quite a different paradigm when we think about ADHD and the very well studied, well accepted efficacy of stimulant medication. But autism, there's nothing like that. That's sort of a pill that can make things. But if you do want to explore it with a psychologist, if you don't want to go down that formal diagnostic route, which yeah, as we've said before, can be expensive and a few barriers to that. If you just want to chat about it and peel back the layers of the onion more informally, you could speak with your GP about getting a mental health care plan, a referral to chat to a psychologist or an OT. It could be. Other health professionals that hopefully have experience in, in mums with this sort of high masking neurodivergent characteristics. So if you're going down the path of using a mental health care plan, then to be eligible for those Medicare rebatable sessions, you need to have some other co occurring challenges like anxiety or mood challenges or like adjustment difficulties and so forth. And really, yeah, that's what I love doing in my sessions as well. It's just like really respectfully and gently. Teasing apart those more traditional stereotype traits and then there's really beautiful idiosyncratic ways that these differences can also manifest. It just, it feels like there's this light bulb that it just keeps sort of Glowing brighter and brighter and brighter and brighter and it's, there's no stopping it until obviously we all have a migraine from fluorescent light, so. But I, yeah, it's just such a nice therapeutic way of like exploring those different sort of parts of you, of you and your personality. Uh, do your own research, just like with ADHD, get in there, there's some fantastic resources out there that I, I love, especially for. The presentations, the characteristics we've been talking about today. So I think Jane's gonna link to those in the show notes. One of my absolute favorite is the website neurodivergentinsights. com. Dr. Krista Neff, she's a ADHD psychotherapist. But yeah, if you've got questions, I'm sure she's got a blog article about it. She just writes in such a digestible way. We are going to finish up. Jacinta, this episode has been fascinating, it really has been. thank you so much for your time, Jacinta. I'm going to add in all of Jacinta's details and all of the information that she's given on the episode notes. If you have loved this, then please send me a DM, Make sure you follow us on Spotify, leave a review. And you are not alone. Find your community and we will do the best we can.