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ADHD versus ASD - Overlap of Symptoms

I've recently been asked how to tell the difference between ADHD and autistic/ASD symptoms.

I've asked myself that same question.

After going down many research rabbit holes and writing down what I think, here is my list to tell them apart!

(I have adhd, this is based on personal experience. My sister has ASD and so do a couple of my friends. If you think you may have adhd or asd, I recommend talking with your doctor!)

ADHD and ASD symptom overlap:

-Poor impulse control

-Emotional sensitivities

-Sensory processing issues - like the buzzing from a light being too loud, being overloaded by too many people in a supermarket.

-Problems with sleep/insomnia

-Stimming: adhd stimming when over-stimulated for a calming effect, stimming when under-stimulated to help with motivation. Autistic stimming may provide more of a constant calming effect.


-Black and white thinking

-Sensory sensitivities eg. heightened pain

-Obsessive interests

-Sleep problems/insomnia

-May make poor eye contact

-Repetitive behaviours

-May get upset when the routine changes

Only ADHD:

-Having a constant buzz/internal dialogue in your head

-Need to doodle or fidget while listening to something boring


-Can easily brainstorm a lot of ideas, but may find it difficult to choose the ‘best’ idea.

-Understands something in their mind, but when tries to explain it to someone else it comes out in a jumbled mess.

-Struggles to start a task even if they want to start it.

-Creative tendencies at night

-Sleep problems may sometimes be due to creative ideas(mind not turning off) at night.

-Associated with hyper mobility, and

-Restless leg syndrome, and

-Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder

-May have a diverse range of friends

-May have many hobbies

-May have diverse hobbies

-Has hyper-fixations eg. hyper focuses on a hobby or a specific person for 2 days or 2 months and then loses all interest.

-Difficulty socialising due to concentrating, mind may drift when someone is talking.

-May do well under time pressure, may need time pressure to complete a task.

-Obsessive hobbies

Only ASD: (info gathered from friends, asking what it's like, and the help of reddit):

-May find making eye contact awkward/uncomfortable.

-May experience social difficulties, eg. not understanding social cues, feeling like you don't fit in.

-Sleep problems/insomnia due to sensory processing issues

-Sensory processing issues eg. everyday noises may be too loud - may use noise cancelling headphones.

-Obsessive hobbies, likely to last longer than the hyper-focus duration seen in adhd.

-May need a rigid structure/becomes upset when structure or routine is broken.

-Might take things literally instead of figuratively

-May not know when they are being rude

-Specific eating habits, not eating certain foods due to texture

-Likes repetitiveness

-Intense passions/also called 'special interests'

-May struggle to comprehend someone else's feelings.

Comment and add to these lists! (and correct anything that may not be quite right!)

(these lists are by no means all inclusive, plus every individual is different. This is just something to help out if you're confused by the two - I was confused initially and wasn't sure which I had.)

Tiktok video!



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