Coder, Maker, Gamer (he/him) 🏳️‍🌈

02Jul 23

Neurodiversity: Dyslexia and ADHD

Neurodiversity (noun) Variety in human behavioural traits and brain function, viewed as normal variation within the population.

Firstly let me just say that writing a blog post about 'me' feels a little self-indulgent. Despite this being my blog, I try not to include details about me or photos of me etc. I keep my socials locked down and try to keep my digital footprint minimal. I'm going to write this as I'd quite like to document how I feel and talking about this stuff is no bad thing.

In case you don't know me I better start by saying I'm in my late thirties and an all round content person. I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 14 and haven't thought much of it since. I've just started the process of getting an ADHD diagnosis and this is how it came around:

For as long as I can remember I really get in to projects, like really into them, to the point I really struggle to sleep until I've finished them. I obsess over details and possible permutations and like a broken record I can't change the track. I've previously questioned if I had OCD because it does feel like obsessions but that doesn't fit as I don't have any 'compulsions'. I can't choose what triggers these but it's always something I find interesting -usually a creative endeavor. Thankfully these are usually work or hobby related which results in me being really productive. The downside of that is during these periods I sometimes go for weeks without proper sleep and I neglect other parts of life. I also generally feel frantic, it feels like my mind is always racing and moments of clam or silence are few and far between. I've previously questioned if this was normal but dismissed it as just being passionate about my projects.

Last week during a work related online conference the speaker talked about her ADHD "fixations" -what she described sounded very familiar to me. After the call I did a little research in to ADHD and the symptoms sounded as if someone who knew me really well was describing me. So many things I had put down to personality quirks were listed here (things like being a total over-thinker, frequently zoning out when people talk to me, forgetfulness, missing details & selective hearing, struggling with organising myself and neglecting general admin, can be socially clumsy -especially after a drink, real difficulty motivating myself to do something I don't want to do, easily distractable when not working on something interesting, distracted by background sounds, even light-sensitivity!). Those 'obsessions' I get are apparently known as 'fixations' and the period of single-minded productivity is known as 'hyper-focus'. The physically squirmy and fidgety symptom doesn't fit me, but I do feel like that on a mental level -I struggle to sit though a film or watch TV for longer than an hour as it feels too passive. I'm still processing how I feel about it all, it's great to have identified it as I can now learn more about it. However so much of what I thought was unique about me are symptoms of this thing that's described as a 'disorder' and 'disability'!

ADHD clinical diagnosis & connection to dyslexia

I tried a few of the ADHD online screening tools and I scored high-very high in each one. I've spoken to my local GP and she was very kind and has confirmed she will refer me for clinical diagnosis. There's a 2+ years wait if I go with the NHS, or around an 18 months if I go use the NHS Right to Choose scheme which means they'll cover the costs for a third party diagnoses via one of their selected partners.

The GP was particularly interested in my Dyslexia asking a number of questions about it. She told me that there is a connection between Dsylexia and creativity. She also introduced me to the #madebydyslexia campaign that lists lots of innovators and creative thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobbs and Richard Branson. I hadn't spared my dyslexia any thought for my entire life, I just considered it as the annoying thing that meant I can't spell and write like a child ...not as a character defining part of me! It turns out 30% of people with Dyslexia also have ADHD so there certainly seems to be correlation.

So what now?

I've filled out the Right to Choose documentation and given it to the GP and I now need to wait for an unknown amount of time (suggestions are it could be anything from weeks to years). I'm not in a rush, I've got by fine for this long but learning more about it will certainly be welcome.