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Understanding Neurodiversity: Why We All Connect Differently and Why That's Okay

As A Person With ADHD, Anxiety Here is What I want you to Know About Our Neurodivergent Communication Challenges.

By Sandy Pace Published about a month ago Updated 7 days ago 4 min read
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If you are like me, you are tired of being criticized for not listening, asking too many questions, or double-checking. Many people today still hold incorrect assumptions about ADHD and other neurodivergent conditions, often failing to show empathy and understanding. Instead, we face gaslighting, job loss, and social exclusion. It is time people realized that traditional indicators of listening are not always accurate.

Let us explore these misconceptions and understand why they are wrong. As I said earlier, it is not fair to criticize people for things not in their control, right? So, remember, the next time you decide to gossip or gaslight us, be better by doing better.

The Reality of Living with ADHD

For those of us with ADHD or other neurodivergent conditions, our challenges are often seen as character flaws or jokes. These challenges are very real and overwhelming. We are often made to feel like the odd one out, even when it is the neurotypical individuals who are not truly listening—they are too busy criticizing us.

In contrast, we are the ones paying attention. These and other neurotypical behaviors make it harder for us to talk about our various challenges, especially when we are not believed when we explain our various communication challenges.

The Broader Impact of ADHD on Communication

Unlike what most people think, ADHD is not just about hyperactivity or an excuse. It is a real condition. It includes a spectrum of challenges, like auditory and sensory processing disorders. For example, when I experience auditory or sensory challenges, it can feel like maneuvering. Certain sounds can blend in with others, causing sensory overload. These challenges go beyond simple miscommunication.

Why? Well ADHD is usually never just ADHD, like in the examples below.

  • 25-40% of people with ADHD also have dyslexia.
  • 43% of individuals with ADHD have learning disabilities.
  • 70% of dyslexic individuals are diagnosed with ADHD.
  • 14% of people with ADHD also have autism.

These overlapping conditions intensify this challenge and make comprehending things challenging. They also make it difficult to respond effectively in conversations sometimes. Despite our efforts to clarify and understand, we are often met with skepticism or frustration, which only adds to this challenge.

Most Neurotypicals Either Misunderstand or Don't Believe Us When We Mention Our ADHD Coping Mechanisms

I do not know about you, but I am constantly criticized for things like asking someone to repeat themselves and other neurodivergent communication challenges. Like asking questions or double-checking, being told those things are just signs of laziness, or I do not care.

For example, I once had a caseworker colleague tell me that my ADHD was a lie. She said taking a moment to center myself showed I was privileged and didn’t care. Then, a few weeks later, she blamed me for something she later admitted I did not do and did not apologize to me. Yet she got mad at me for not apologizing because I closed my eyes briefly.

It is time neurotypicals realize these behaviors are coping mechanisms for navigating our auditory and sensory triggers. To clarify and ease our emotional, sensory, and auditory triggers, which is why. It is not because we are lazy and do not care.

So, remember, it is not laziness or indifference when we ask questions or double-check. For those of us with ADHD and other members of the neurodivergent community, these behaviors are essential coping mechanisms to manage our emotional, sensory, and auditory triggers. Sadly, it is 2024; people still categorize others instead of gaining perspective and context and educating themselves.

Considering we work twice as hard to communicate effectively, our efforts are often met with skepticism and frustration, despite our efforts. Most people think it is hard to bridge this barrier, but it is not hard. Why? It just requires being a decent human being and following these rules.

Create Safe Spaces: Foster environments free from judgment where understanding can thrive and ask instead of assuming.

Focus on Awareness: Recognize that communication challenges related to anxiety, trauma, and neurodivergence are health-related, not character flaws.

Use Respectful Language: Avoid gossiping and gaslighting. Instead, learn and use respectful, inclusive language.

True communication is about empathy, connection, and mutual respect. We all deserve to be seen beyond our diagnoses and challenges. So, the next time you encounter someone communicating differently, appreciate their effort to bridge the gap.

It is time to dismantle stereotypes and embrace neurodiversity with patience and understanding. Show empathy, hold space, and take accountability, and remember. When you mock or gaslight someone for their neurodivergent traits, the problem lies with you and not with us. So, let us commit to fostering inclusivity and understanding in all our interactions.

Embrace neurodiversity and create a world where everyone feels heard and respected.

REFERENCES AND RESOURCES

Common Executive Function Challenges — and Solutions. (2019, October 27). ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/download/executive-function-worksheet/ Barkley, R. (2023, August 25).

What Is Executive Function? 7 Deficits Tied to ADHD. ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/7-executive-function-deficits-linked-to-adhd/ Zenger (2021, November 30).

What Great Listeners Do. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/07/what-great-listeners-actually-do Scherer, P. (2021, July 9).

Could Your Child Have Auditory Processing Disorder? ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/a-labor-to-listen-is-it-adhd-or-apd/#:~:text=Studies%20suggest%20that%2050%20percent,ADHD%20may%20also%20have%20APD Sinfield, J. (2022, December 23).

Understanding ADHD and Dyslexia. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/dyslexia-and-its-relation-to-adhd-4119917

Auditory Processing Disorder: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment. (2016, December 8). ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/what-is-auditory-processing-disorder/ The Relationship Between ADHD and Autism. (n.d.)

The Relationship Between ADHD and Autism. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/autism-and-adhd Talking about ADHD Guide | CADDRA.

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About the Creator

Sandy Pace

I’m a freelance writer with ADHD and anxiety. Who’s passionate about mental health awareness and other related topics. And has written for publications like ADDitude Magazine, Thought Catalog, TotallyADD, BuzzFeed @ other publications.

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Comments (2)

  • Mike Singleton 🌜 Mikeydred 🌛about a month ago

    Excellent article, I think this will be helpful to a lot of people

  • Wali Ahmed Khanabout a month ago

    "Beautiful content! I support you and appreciate your support for me. Together, we can achieve great things! 🌟😊"

Sandy Pace Written by Sandy Pace

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