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Updated: May 18, 2021

Whether you are self-diagnosed or have a professional diagnosis of Autism or ADHD or both, you understand the frustrations of having very productive days but others, it just seems like you are distracted by every little thing in your environment and cannot seem to concentrate on a single thing. It is like everything, from your cat, Instagram, TikTok, online games, taxis, laundry, dishes, responsibilities, school, etc. is constantly competing for your attention and you feel like you can't get anything done! It feels like distractions grab your attention and their arms are tied around you, preventing you from the important things you really have to do. The day has flown by, before you know it! Whether or not you are professionally diagnosed, you know this struggle all too well. It is really frustrating when you try to explain this to others, and yet, they do not believe you and tell you to "just try harder to concentrate." It is very frustrating when you try to explain this, but they just assume you haven't been trying hard enough to focus. This is not true, at all.

You have plans to get the laundry done, get the dishes done, get the trash taken out, write, and other things, but your brain and the distraction demons just get in the way. It literally feels like the distractions are holding you in this tornado that keeps you off the ground. You may feel like Alice from "Alice in Wonder Land", following the rabbit hole of so many things. You get overwhelmed by everything and all these things are keeping you from studying or reading for school.

I do not know about you, but I have tried to force myself to focus on all the things I have to do, hoping that the energy drinks will keep me focused. I love stimulants, because sometimes, they help me focus. I once had to get ready for my home kitten visit to ensure the lady approved my house for the kitten to stay with me. I had two Monster energy drinks that day, because I needed to focus on getting the house spick and span for her arrival. I had to listen to music while cleaning, sweeping, mopping, and other things. I was also anxious about getting ready, because while my house was getting clean, I wasn't.

One thing I have had difficulty with for many years with no medication is time management. This means I get distracted by one thing and focus on something that doesn't need much attention, knowing I have so many other things I have to do and check them off of my to- do list. For example, I can spend a long time focusing on the stories I make up every day, even though I do not plan to publish any of them. I believe I may have maladaptive daydreaming, which is where I act out scenarios in my head all day long that have never happened or probably never will. I make up characters who constantly fight and argue with each other, which always divulges to farce or satire. (As I write this, I see a cute girl who looks no older than 14 or 15. I like her haircut and her cute face. She is returning some books to the library as I write this.) Anyway, my point is, my brain messes up a lot and I forget to do some things.

Another thing I suffer from is... What were we talking about? The sun shining is really beautiful! The girl from the library gets her backpack and everything back and prepares to leave.

Oh, yeah. Another thing I suffer from is that I focus on things that are not important. As soon as I try to work on the website or write my book, my cat walks on the keyboard and tries to attack the touchscreen while I'm working. But I cannot leave him in a room by himself, or he gets really bad separation anxiety. I get distracted by small noises at home, so I forget what I was doing. I have sensory issues because of my Autism and get distracted easily because of my undiagnosed ADHD. (To be fair, a psychologist when I was 11 years old said I didn't really have Autism, but rather the worst case of ADHD he had ever seen.) But as an adult, I am not 100% certain if I have ADHD or not. I self- identify as having undiagnosed and untreated ADHD or ADD because of how easily distracted I get and so much time goes by where I didn't get everything done on some days.

I sometimes panic if I didn't get enough done. I have to go to a distraction- free place, such as a library to get some work done. The problem is, I can't drive because I don't have my driver's license, which is a story for later. I need to go to a place designated for studying or working, so that I can concentrate.

Another problem I have is that I work on building a strategy to help me focus, but I cannot seem to stick to anything. I have tried writing things down on a whiteboard or a sheet of paper, setting reminders and alarms on my phone, creating a schedule on my computer and printing it out, and keeping a written to- do list, etc. These are all strategies I have tried, but I can't seem to stick to any of them! I stick to a strategy to help me focus but then I can't seem to stick to anything long term. I have been learning how to manage my time and block out distractions for YEARS, but it still doesn't work. I have gotten better at these skills, but I still am HORRIBLE at everything. I still have no medications for my issues, because getting diagnosed as an adult is really hard.

I know some of you can relate to this post. Please leave a comment and share if you agree!

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This is a rainbow infinity symbol I created to represent the beauty of Autism.
Autism Spectrum Colors


Stories from our advocates

This is the place where our amazing Autistic advocates share their stories about what it's like for them to be on the spectrum. This is the place where we have shared our unique stories about living on the spectrum our whole lives. Here is a story about my Autism.

Here, you will find other stories about other Autistic people.


A recipe for Acceptance

All of our Autism advocates want to spread more acceptance as we embark on a journey of a lifetime.

We have to give all Autistic people a voice, no matter ability. There are Autistic people with higher support needs, and we need to respect that. When we bring awareness to these higher support needs, we are not dismissing the lower support needs of other people on the spectrum, but it is imperative to the Autism community that we acknowledge and address it. Addressing higher support needs does not mean ignoring lower support needs; it means not letting them slip through the cracks. It means supporting them and allowing them to talk about their own support needs, with as little help as possible. Know and respect that some Autistic people may need more prompting and help when trying to speak, such as Augmentative Alternative Communication. Also know that some advocates may also have higher support needs. It is important to allow them the floor to speak on these topics, especially when they know more about these higher support needs than you do. Have you ever spent time with those with higher support needs? If not, then give the mic to someone who has experience! Not everything is about your needs, because you only represent yourself, not the entire Autism community. You only represent those with lower support needs, not the community as a whole. Remember that full representation is a much needed antidote for the deep wounds in our community caused by ableism. You like to talk about those killed by parents and caregivers because of their Autism and other disabilities, yet it has come to my attention that you do not want to let Autistic people with the experience of working with higher support needs children and youth, because you would rather discuss the injustices done in the Autism community that you "won't hear in the media". Here is an unpopular opinion: It is not enough to be Autistic to advocate for the Autism community; an Autistic person with experience is a better advocate for the Autism community than someone who only has experience with their own Autism diagnosis. You can only speak for yourself and your own experience with Autism and cannot speak for the whole community, unless you have also worked with children and youth all across the entire spectrum. Even then, can you really speak on behalf on all Autistic people? I have worked with Autistic children at a spectrum camp each summer for 6.5 hours a day, for at least 7 years, so I have limited experience. But I still know a thing or two about what they actually go through. You never see these children in a mainstream classroom, and special education is very limited. Society is designed to keep such high support needs children on the spectrum almost hidden from the general public, because many teachers, therapists, and counselors do not want to work with them. The same happened to me when I was three years old; teachers at my preschool did not want to work with me. Teachers at other schools did not want to work with me, either, which is why I was homeschooled. Please have more sympathy towards those with higher support needs, because you want sympathy given to you!


#AutismAcceptance #AcceptanceNotAwareness #AutismIsNotADisease #NoCure #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs

I wake up in the morning, make my cup of coffee, and have a very Autistic breakfast made up of social anxiety eggs and sensory issues toast, along with scrambled thoughts and confusion bacon and cheese. I start my mornings bright and early with Nirvana and eat my Autism breakfast. They say, "You are what you eat", but I don't remember eating Anxiety and Depression Crunch! And if you are what you eat, then that must explain why I am Autistic. It really is quite strange, when you think about it.


This is the fuel for an Autistic adult.
Autism Coffee

Getting ready for work

After breakfast, I take a shower and contemplate my very existence, wondering why the universe decided to make me so sad all the time. Anyone who is anyone knows that the universe never makes mistakes, so you just have to get used to it. After my shower, I wonder how it feels to be someone else. People who are confident in themselves and do not live in doubt are weird! What is it like to be Neurotypical? Do you ever process your entire life? Do you ever listen to the same songs on repeat? Do you ever repeat the same words or phrases over and over again? Do you fidget a lot? If you do any of these things, then you must be FAKING being neurotypical! Stop faking being neurotypical. Since I am Autistic and have a neurotypical friend, I completely understand. You're not neurotypical! Basically, please do not say these things to an Autistic person.


Working

Working is a great way to make money, am I right? Every time I have been on a job interview, the employer always asks, "Why do you want this job?" And I feel like I could answer, "Because I'm broke! Why else would I want the job? HIRE ME!" I job I have now is the seasonal brand associate at Old Navy. Being a real brand associate would be great! But working retail and customer service is like being an actor, trying to copy all the dance moves with all the others, but no one taught you how to do the dance. You just have to constantly look at everyone else to see what they are doing and try to follow suite the best you can. In fact, that is what being Autistic is like, every single day. It is so fun to get the moves or the script wrong and have the director yell at you!


The actors all rehearse for a play; center stage is the Autistic woman trying really hard.
Autistic actress center stage.


Coming home

When I get home, I slip into my T- shirt and take off my bra and my pants and continue to contemplate why I'm here. I love having depression and anxiety, because they are my friends and keep me company all day, every day. People without anxiety are very strange and very lonely, right? Also, people without Autism are also very weird, because they make eye-contact and make conversation. It must be interesting, to say the least. I will never understand it. Oh, well. I also take off my mask; I don't mean my corona mask. I mean that, obviously, but I really mean my Neurotypical mask that I have to wear. It's part of the costume. I am in a play that I have been rehearsing for and practicing for my whole life since I was 3 or 4. I realized I did not fit in or know any of the lines that everyone else seemed to know already.


The mask represents the mask Autistic people wear in public to be accepted and tolerated by others.
Neurotypical Mask.

The above represents what a teacher, an employer, and even some friends expect of you when you're Autistic. I wear this mask every time I go out. I just want to save everyone from the horrors of seeing my true nature. If my mask slips, my Autism shows. I am the scary learning disability having gobblin! Beware the masked shadow people! We are all coming to get you! BOO!!

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