For the longest time I thought my tendency to get really into a subject for a few days, or even a few weeks, before moving onto the next subject, was a weakness. A character flaw. Something to overcome. This tendency was the biggest reason why I wasn’t sure I was autistic when I first explored the possibility. Wasn’t I supposed to be able to dive deep and become an expert?
Autism and ADHD Combined
The day I read a post describing observations of autistics with ADHD, my whole life changed. The quality that stood out, more than the any other, was the ability to focus intensely on something until the next interesting thing came along. The autism makes me want to dive deep and learn everything. The ADHD kicks in and say, ‘close enough’ as soon as something new comes along. The interest doesn’t disappear, but it becomes a lower priority.
In a way it’s like the different approaches to a relationship. Autism reminds me of lifelong monogamy. One (or a few) deep interests forever. ADHD reminds me of people who don’t want relationships and jump from person to person. Autism plus ADHD is thus serial monogamy. We’re all in… until we’re not.
Today I spent hours researching snowboarding and up and coming female snowboarders for a movie idea I have. I’m not a snowboarder, but I admire their general attitudes and courage. For my books I’ve researched surfing, music, cooking, meditation, fitness, wrestling, and so many more topics. I’m not an expert in any of these areas, but I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the process. I believe this is only possible because of the combination of autism and ADHD.
I’ve spent my life researching random things. Now that I’m a writer, it all has a purpose, creating a massive toolbox to draw from when working out story or character ideas. The stories give me an outlet for all of this information as well, slowly putting a stop to all that old judgment I threw at myself for wasting time or not seeing things through.
Now I call my serial research a superpower because I have medication and other coping mechanisms to help my brain work with itself instead of against it. When I have days like today, where the research results in a breakthrough, it feels amazing. It reminds me that I don’t need to work the same as anyone else to create something worthwhile.
The Tools of ADHD
Every person is different, and honestly each day I’m different. Some days all I need is to sit down and work. Most days I sit down, open the Focus@Will app, and then get started. Today what helped the most was a long meditation session proceeded by tapping via the TappingSolution app.
Lately I’ve found I get tiny breakthroughs during meditation, yoga, and qigong, which is when I am my most calm and quiet. They end up hastily scrawled in my notebook which allows me to return to my practice without worry that I’ll forget. The process is chaotic and non-linear, but I’ve come to accept it because of those moments of realization. Each brings me closer on each of the stories I’m working on. In fact, even as I write this, a new thought came to mind which I just wrote down.
Even if you don’t have autism or ADHD, these tools can help you. If you’re a writer, or want to be, I believe these tools are even more important. But even if you aren’t, any activity that slows you down and allows your brain to settle will improve your life.
What's Your Superpower?
For the longest time my superpower went underutilized because I couldn’t recognize it for what it was. It also required me to take action to bring my brain into sync: medication, meditation, and acceptance. Look at yourself and ask, what if my greatest weaknesses are actually superpowers waiting to be revealed? It’s okay if you don’t have an answer. Just asking the question can create change.
I hope this was beneficial to read. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.