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ADHD Productivity Hack: The Pomodoro Method

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For those of us with ADHD, managing our productivity can be… challenging. And frustrating.  And it can lead to feelings of shame, too. We’re often operating within systems (and expectations) that were built when society didn’t know much about neurodivergent brains.. So first things first, don’t forget to have compassion for yourself in this situation! 

Back to productivity. Maintaining focus and completing tasks within a set timeline is a skill that is crucial for most of our day-to-day lives, and it’s one that doesn’t always come naturally. Distractions, forgetfulness, executive dysfunction, and procrastination can easily throw a wrench into well-made plans of “doing all the things today.” We recommend trying a simple, yet highly effective, ADHD productivity hack that we keep in our toolbox – the Pomodoro Method.


When Your World is So Much More Interesting Than This Lame Report

People with ADHD have the strengths of curiosity and imagination. These traits drive innovation and make our world much more interesting to live in! But, when you’ll face significant consequences if you don’t finish a project on time, you may need to find a way to focus on the boring thing. This can be a challenge for a few reasons. 

  1. ADHD Paralysis: When you have 12 things on your to-do list, deciding where to start can be so overwhelming that you avoid starting at all. 
  2. Procrastination: Starting tasks can be incredibly challenging for those with ADHD. The brain often prefers immediate gratification, leading to procrastination.
  3. Difficulty with Focus: Maintaining concentration for extended periods is difficult, which can result in incomplete projects and missed deadlines.
  4. Impulsivity: Impulsive behaviors can lead to shifting priorities frequently, making it tough to stay on track.
  5. Forgetfulness: Forgetfulness and disorganization can lead to important tasks slipping through the cracks.
  6. Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA): While pathological demand avoidance is more commonly associated with autism than ADHD, the co-occurrence of ADHD and autism is pretty high. So, PDA could still be a contributing factor. 

Managing these challenges can seem like an uphill battle, but there’s a powerful technique that can help: the Pomodoro Method.

The Pomodoro Method: A Game-Changer for ADHD Productivity

The Pomodoro Method is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. It’s designed to improve focus and productivity by breaking work into short, focused intervals followed by brief breaks. Here’s how it works.

Choose a Task 

Select a task you want to work on. Or, select the task you have to work on. Or, select the task with the worst consequences if you don’t work on it. 

Set a Timer 

Set a timer for 25 minutes (this is one Pomodoro). During this time, focus exclusively on your task. It can help to set yourself up in an environment without too many distractions. Noise canceling headphones are helpful, too. 

Work Intensely 

Work with laser-like focus until the timer rings. This brief period minimizes distractions and capitalizes on the ability of individuals with ADHD to hyperfocus on a single task.

Take a Short Break

After one Pomodoro, take a 5-minute break. Use this time to recharge, stretch, use the bathroom, get a glass of water, or do a quick mindfulness exercise.


Repeat steps 1-4 for three more Pomodoros. After completing four, take a longer break of 15-30 minutes.

The beauty of the Pomodoro Method for ADHD-ers lies in its structured approach and frequent breaks. While ADHD is often associated with difficulty in sustaining attention, it’s essential to recognize that the ability to hyperfocus is a huge strength. With the Pomodoro Method, you harness that hyperfocus for short bursts, ensuring you make substantial progress on your tasks without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.

The Power of Pomodoro Timers for ADHD

Now that you understand the Pomodoro Method, you might wonder how to implement it effectively. Enter Pomodoro timers, which are essential tools for anyone looking to maximize their productivity using this technique.

Pomodoro timers are specialized timers designed to help you track your work and break intervals precisely. They come in a variety of formats, including physical devices and smartphone apps, making it easy to integrate them into your daily routine.

Here’s why owning a Pomodoro timer can be especially beneficial for individuals with ADHD.

Structure and Accountability 

The timer provides a structured framework for your work. Knowing that a timer is ticking down can help create a sense of urgency and accountability.

Visual and Auditory Cues 

Many Pomodoro timers offer visual and auditory cues, such as a ticking sound or a flashing light, to signal the start and end of each Pomodoro. These cues help individuals with ADHD transition between work and break periods.

Incremental Progress

Breaking your work into manageable, 25-minute intervals allows you to measure your progress more effectively. This incremental approach can boost your confidence and motivation.

Time Awareness 

For people with ADHD, time can sometimes feel elusive. Pomodoro timers help you stay aware of the passage of time, preventing you from losing track and spending too much time on a single task.

Give the Pomodoro Method a Try

If you have ADHD and struggle with productivity, the Pomodoro Method and Pomodoro timers can be game-changers. This technique harnesses your hyperfocus and provides a structured approach to work, helping you tackle tasks efficiently while managing ADHD-related challenges. Consider investing in a Pomodoro timer and giving this method a try. You’ll be amazed at how it can transform your productivity and help you achieve your goals more effectively. Get a Pomodoro timer for yourself on Amazon.

adhd, adhd at work, adults, children

Adult ADHD Coping Skills: The Power Of Positive Reinforcement

As an adult with ADHD, you may have experienced feeling judged by the people in your life. From missed deadlines to the elusive keys that always seem to sprout legs, overcoming some of our struggles can feel like a neverending task. The shame we experience starts from our very earliest memories, and accumulates as we grow older. A boss’s frown for each minute late, or the sigh of a partner for the umpteenth time something gets misplaced. All of this negative reinforcement can weigh heavily on a person’s mental health, shaping their self-image into something far removed from their intrinsic worth. We deserve better! Keep reading for a few ADHD coping skills that can help to make you feel more like your priceless self again.

Accumulative Effects Of Negative Messaging

The magnitude of this issue is stark. Consider that by the age of 12, a child with ADHD is likely to have received 20,000 more negative messages than their neurotypical peers. The result? An adult whose familiarity with criticism towers over their experiences with praise. This relentless negativity contributes to even more troubling statistics: adults with ADHD experience depression at three times the rate of the general population, and are 6 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, and 8 times more likely to attempt to end their life. ADHD has even been correlated to Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, and the staggering number of negative messages is surely a factor.

ADHD Coping Skills to Overcome Negativity

Neurodivergents can work to balance the scales by incorporating positive reinforcement in their life and routines, and so can everyone else in their life. Leaders can uplift and energize their ADHD counterparts with it. Romantic partners can experience the joy of helping their partner heal and thrive through this practice. This approach does so much more than soften the stigma felt by those with ADHD. Let’s look at 3 simple ways to incorporate positive reinforcement in your life.

1. Embrace Novelty

Neurodivergents often feel a sense of renewed energy or tolerance for boring tasks when there is some novelty introduced. ADHD folks appreciate the chance to add a little fun and variety to their lives – from a completely new environment, to subtle changes in routines, tools, or tasks. This search for something fresh isn’t a sign of inconsistency; it’s a quest for stimulation, a way to keep the neural fires burning.

2. Praise (it ain’t just for Jaysus)

It’s not just about feeling good – although that’s a big part of it. Verbal praise generates a rush of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that ADHD brains often find in short supply. This boost doesn’t just brighten the moment; it shores up behavior and bolsters a sense of self-worth that can shield against the slings and arrows of everyday critiques.

3. PRIZES! (aka a reward system)

Rewards, much like praise, serve as a dopamine delivery system. They come in many shapes and flavors. Whether it’s the anticipation of some free time to kick back, the draw of solving a puzzle or working on a passion project, the enjoyment gained from a quick jog in nature, or the sweet of a favorite treat, rewards light up the ADHD brain. They can turn otherwise arduous tasks into genuine play.

The Great NaPP

The ADHD mind runs rampant with light and potential that we don’t talk about enough. It’s a brain that can hyper-focus, that can generate out-of-the-box ideas at lightning speed, and can approach problems with unparalleled creativity. With a little positive reinforcement, these can become the primary traits society sees in us. So next time you’re feeling the world’s judgment, or you just can’t seem to get motivated, remember to get a NaPP. That is, get some Novelty, Praise, and Prizes!

adhd, adults, depression, mental health, Social & Emotional

Mastering the Art of Remembrance: Object Permanence ADHD Strategies

Being stressed because you can’t find your car keys and you’re late for work is a relatable human experience. But when it happens weekly, or even daily, the frustration can build up to have a negative impact on your life. Then, when the missing keys are later found to be in your hand or pocket, you might end up getting angry at yourself. If you relate to this story, you might be suffering from ADHD object permanence issues. 

For ADHDers, “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t just a saying, it’s a very real struggle. Lets peel back the layers on this concept that is simple but profound in its everyday impact. Object permanence and its effect on ADHD brains can make “here today, gone tomorrow” a recurring theme – and problem – in our lives.


The Puzzle of Object Permanence in ADHD

Object permanence is the understanding that things continue to exist even when they can’t be seen, heard, or sensed. This concept is typically associated with infants, but its implications run deep for adults, especially those with ADHD. For the neurodivergent, the absence of visual cues can turn tasks and objects into distant memories. Why does this happen?

Imagine your brain as a juggler, each ball representing a thought, a task, a to-do item. For the ADHD brain, the balls are often translucent. If they aren’t actively being juggled, they can vanish. This isn’t a deficiency; it’s a different neural wiring. When objects or tasks move out of the direct line of sight or immediate attention, the ADHD quickly shifts focus to the things that are more concrete, sometimes forgetting they exist at all.

Harnessing Visibility: Tools & Methods to Remember

Luckily for us neurodivergent people, there are methods and tools available to help us keep the most important things from vanishing from our consciousness. Try a few of these out to keep object permanence from getting in your way:

Time-Specific Commitments

Instead of saying you’ll do the dishes “later,” specify a time. “I’ll do the dishes at 7:15 PM,” followed by setting an alarm, cements the task in your time-space continuum.

Example: “I’ll respond to that email after lunch.” Fast-forward past lunch, and the email is a distant memory, just like the hoagie you ate.. Solution? Set a specific time and use a task manager app to remind you.

Visual Aids

Clear organizer bins can be a godsend. Instead of tucking your bills into a drawer, you can keep them in a transparent file on your desk to keep them on your visual radar. Clear refrigerator bins can help you to keep fresh foods top-of-mind, so you can eat more of your produce before it goes bad.

Example: We’ve all placed something in a drawer for ‘safekeeping’ only to forget its existence. Often this is because we just locked the item completely out of our field of vision. A transparent storage solution can help maintain awareness of your hidden treasures.

Tactile Reminders 

Ever tied a string around your finger as a child to remember something? This tactile approach can be modernized — wearable tech, like smartwatches, can nudge you with vibrations for tasks.

Location-Based Triggers

Use sticky notes in strategic places. A note on the bathroom mirror to remind you to email your colleague or a post-it on the door to take out the trash as you leave for work can work wonders. There are even location-based reminders you can set on your phone.

Example: A whiteboard right by the door to the garage with reminders of what you need to get when you go out can be a lifesaver. 

No Two Neurodivergent Minds are the Same

The journey to efficient organization and task management is highly personal, especially in the neurodivergent community. It’s essential to experiment with different methods to find what resonates with your mind! 

Whether it’s sticky notes, clear bins, digital nudges, or even that good old-fashioned string around your finger, the goal is to make the invisible, visible. Play with different methods and discover the joy in the act of remembering. The Neurospicy Shop is here to help you through this exploration with tools, support, and a community that gets it. Because in the brilliant mosaic of the neurodiverse mind, every piece deserves to be seen and celebrated.

adhd, adults, children, parenting tips

Sanity Savers: 4 Times My Loop Earplugs Became My Best Friend

This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

With the overwhelming range of earplugs available today, Loop earplugs stand out. Their unique design, centered around a circular acoustic channel, has given people with autism, ADHD, and other sensory challenges a new world of options for noise reduction. Instead of blocking out all sounds, they reduce how much unwanted background noise the wearer hears. They still preserve the clarity of the more important sounds that you still want to hear, like conversation or a live performer. Loops also come in a variety of models, each of which blocks out different levels of noise.

My First Purchase: The Loop Engage Plus Earplugs

After researching, and reading reviews, and comparing the available models, I chose to try out the Engage Plus Loops. I also selected the clear color because I liked the idea of very few people knowing I was wearing them. Beyond the aesthetic appeal, these earplugs promised to reduce background and preserve my ability to hear the person next to me speaking. True to their word, my experience has been that I’m not entirely isolated from my environment when wearing them! They enable me to enjoy events and activities in loud, chaotic environments without shutting out the world around me.

I like to keep my Loops on me, in the nice convenient little case I got with them on my keychain. This way, I don’t need to anticipate when I might get overwhelmed, and instead can just whip them out when I notice I start to struggle with noise. The following are some of my favorite times I’ve used my Loops, and some of the times I’ve been most grateful that I had them on me.

The Reverberating Mayhem of Indoor Sports Games

Anyone who’s attended a kids’ indoor sports game knows the intensity of the noise. I guess that this doesn’t just apply to kids’ games, now that I think about it… But, since it’s probably been a decade since I went to an indoor game that wasn’t for kids, I’m going to stick to what I know.

The high-pitched cheers of parents, constant dribbling of the ball, and echoing referee whistles can be a sensory nightmare. The closed environment of indoor gyms amplifies every sound, making it resonate throughout the space. With my Loop earplugs in place, the echoing chaos faded to a comfortable hum. I found myself enjoying the match, cheering on the players, and genuinely soaking in the exhilarating atmosphere, all without the usual sensory assault.

Live Concerts and Shows

I love live music. I love being a part of the crowd, drinking in the artists’ energy, and even singing along when I’m positive that no one will be able to hear me over the band. The thrill of live music is undeniable, but the sheer volume can leave your ears ringing for days. During my first concert with the Loop Engage Plus, I was skeptical – I didn’t want to miss out on the music. But as the beats began to drop and the crowd roared, I quickly appreciated their worth. I was lost in the melodies, singing my heart out, without the fear of potential hearing damage (or the desire to run to the bathroom where things might be a little quieter).

Karaoke Night

I self-identify as a terrible singer. So, when my friends insisted on wanting to celebrate an event in their lives with a karaoke night, it was incredibly kind of them to book us a private room. With no audience except people who already knew me and presumably wouldn’t throw things at me, singing was much more comfortable.

BUT, the smaller room also meant that sound did the bouncing-around thing, and the music and mic were quickly very loud for my sensory challenges. My Loops were a lifesaver, toning down the cacophony, allowing me to appreciate my friends’ spirited performances, and even join in the fun.

Bachelorette Party Drag Brunch

It was a day of flamboyance, laughter, and high-energy performances. The drag brunch was a riot of colors, music, and cheering. Every announcement, every performance, and every toast was louder than the last. But with my trusty Loops, I danced, laughed, and celebrated without once feeling the need to escape the noise.

Try Them for Yourself

In reflection, the Loop Engage Plus earplugs have been nothing short of transformative. Their unique design and unparalleled performance have made them an essential part of my life. Whether it’s an adrenaline-packed game, a soulful concert, or a day of celebration, my Loops have ensured that I’m present, engaged, and comfortable. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect balance between immersion and protection, look no further. Buy your Loop earplugs today, and dive into experiences like never before.

adhd, adults, autism, children, sensory stuff

AuDHD: The Combined Forces of ADHD and Autism

“Hi, I’ll have the Super Spicy Combo please”

ADHD and Autism are both neurodevelopmental conditions, and they have plenty in common. They also have some pretty drastic differences. So, what happens when the two team up together in one person’s mind? The emerging term AuDHD refers to that exact situation.

Is it common to have both?

In a word, yes. The exact details for how common, though, are a little fuzzy. Depending on the source, you’ll find a wide variety of statistics. According to, “More than half of all individuals who have been diagnosed with ASD also have signs of ADHD.” Having one condition doesn’t mean that you’ll certainly have the other. But, if you have been diagnosed with one and you feel like you have signs of the other, it’s worth exploring.

Overlapping Symptoms and Experiences

To complicate the topic, autism and ADHD share quite a few symptoms in common – even when presenting individually.

  • Attention Difficulties: Both people with ADHD and with autism might have trouble sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
  • Hyperactivity: This is more commonly associated with ADHD but can also be seen in some people with autism. It can manifest as fidgeting, tapping, or talkativeness.
  • Impulsivity: Both conditions might cause someone to act without thinking first, particularly children. This can result in interruptions, hasty decisions, or difficulty waiting one’s turn.
  • Social Misunderstandings: Individuals with ADHD might interrupt frequently, miss social cues, or have trouble listening to others, while individuals with autism might struggle with understanding social norms or reading social cues.
  • Difficulty with Transitions: Transitioning from one task or activity to another can be overwhelming for people with either condition.
  • Sensory Sensitivities: Some people with autism are especially sensitive to sensory stimuli such as lights, sounds, or textures. However, there’s growing recognition that sensory issues can also affect people with ADHD, though it might manifest differently.
  • Executive Function Challenges: Both ADHD and autism can be accompanied by difficulties with executive functions like organizing, planning, and prioritizing tasks.
  • Repetitive Behaviors: While repetitive or “stimming” behaviors like hand-flapping or rocking are more commonly associated with autism, individuals with ADHD can also have repetitive actions or habits.
  • Focus on Specific Interests: Just as a person with autism might become deeply interested and focused on a specific subject, someone with ADHD might also hyperfocus on an activity or topic of interest, though the context and duration might be different.

All these overlapping experiences can make the two conditions difficult to untangle from each other to begin with. The combined presentation, then, of ADHD and autism can lead to heightened or more intense symptoms. According to, “People who have traits that stretch across both autism and ADHD diagnoses often face more serious challenges than people with either diagnosis alone: They can have greater impairments in adaptive functioning, a term that refers to self-care and daily living skills, and more severe social and cognitive issues.”

On the Go, But Where To? A Look at Executive Functioning

Executive functions serve as our cognitive command center. For those with AuDHD, tasks like organizing, planning, and maintaining attention can be a rollercoaster ride. Executive functioning skills can be learned. For those of us with neurodevelopmental disorders, though, it takes more intention to learn them. Executive functioning is such a challenge for us neurospicies, that we’ve started coming up with more fun terms for our challenges (enter ADHD paralysis). PDA, or pathological demand avoidance, is typically associated with autism and can complicate these struggles even further.

Parents of kids with AuDHD might see them struggle to get started with chores or homework. Or, kids might struggle to turn a big project like “clean your room” into the individual tasks it takes to complete them (“put dirty clothes in the hamper” and “put your toys away”).

In fact, it seems like I’m only able to get into a groove with writing this article when I’m about to leave to go somewhere else. There’s a funny irony to my own executive functioning challenges that I’m experiencing, while writing about executive functioning. The impulsivity from ADHD combined with a need for routine from autism can create an interesting dance of cognitive strengths and challenges.

Feeling the World Intensely: The Dance of Sensory Sensitivities

Imagine hearing background noises with the same intensity as the primary conversation, or feeling the textures of everyday materials as if they were magnified. Sensory experiences are amplified for many with AuDHD, leading to unique interactions with their environment.

These experiences can be difficult to identify, because they are so subjective. Everyone has a little bit of sensory sensitivity here or there. The phrase “nails on a chalkboard” has become an idiom because we can all relate to how much that sound feels like torture. But, for ADHDer, autistics, and AuDHDers, sensory triggers can be hiding everywhere. Someone with these conditions might have very specific preferences about the fabric of their clothes, the hue of their light bulbs, the texture of their foods, and the volume or type of background noise they can tolerate while they work.

Loop earplugs can help with the auditory sensory issues, and there are other products and strategies that help AuDHDers to live more comfortably.

Navigating the Social Labyrinth

Navigating the social realm with AuDHD is akin to traversing a maze with shifting walls. The impulsive nature of ADHD might lead to speaking out of turn, while the autism aspect could cause challenges in reading social cues.

On top of all of this, neurodivergent people in general tend to receive a significant amount of negative social feedback during their formative years. Rejection sensitive dysphoria is a common experience among people with ADHD and autism, too. Together, these factors can create a perfect storm of social anxiety. It’s important to know that anxiety is a very normal response.

It’s a spectrum of social experiences that requires patience, understanding, and often, guidance.

Harnessing the Power Within: Amplifying AuDHD Strengths

While AuDHD can present some challenges, those living with it often exhibit incredible strengths, such as intense focus, passion, and out-of-the-box thinking. Having someone with AuDHD on your team can lead to more effective problem-solving, more creative work, and honestly, in our opinion, a way less boring meeting. People with autism, ADHD, and AuDHD drive innovation in this world, and their gifts should be treasured!

AuDHD is more than just a convergence of ADHD and autism. It’s a unique experience that requires understanding, support, and tailored approaches. Select resources and strategies that align with your journey. Remember, with the right knowledge and tools, every challenge can be transformed into an opportunity for growth!

adhd, adults, autism

Autism and Sleep: 12 Tips for a Restful Night

In the world of autism and sleep, there’s a rhythm – a sometimes elusive rhythm. Whether you’re rocking the spectrum or you’re guiding an autistic superstar (maybe your kiddo), there’s a dance between sleep and autism that’s intriguing to understand and essential to master. Together, we’re taking a deep dive into the world of dreams and the spectrum.

Sleep and Autism: More than Meets the Eye

Autism is a spectrum, and so are the sleep challenges that come with it. Many autistic people find themselves either too sleepy or, more commonly, dealing with insomnia. Some also experience poor sleep quality when they do get to rest. Neurological differences, anxiety, sensory sensitivities, or even gastrointestinal issues linked with autism can impact sleep. It’s not just about being a “night owl”; there’s a whole behind-the-scenes play going on.

A question that often pops up is whether the severity of autism has a direct link with sleep disturbances. These challenges might manifest themselves in general insomnia While it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, research indicates that those with more severe symptoms might experience greater sleep challenges. However, individual experiences can differ based on a cocktail of factors – environment, co-existing health conditions, daily routines, and more.

Tips for the Little Spicies: Helping Autistic Kids Sleep Better

  1. Routine Rules All: Kids thrive on routine, and for autistic children, a predictable bedtime can make all the difference. This includes consistent sleep and wake times and a series of calming pre-bed activities.
  2. Sensory Paradise: Everyone loves a comfy bed, but for kids on the spectrum, sensory considerations are crucial. Soft sheets, room-darkening curtains, or even a special stuffed toy can help. Make the bedroom a haven, not a sensory minefield.
  3. Limit the Excitables: Beware of those sneaky stimulants! Limiting screen time an hour before bed and watching out for sneaky caffeine in chocolates or some meds can be game-changers.
  4. Try out a Sensory Sleep Sack: This comforting sleep pod provides the the pressure of a weighted blanket but without the night sweats that can come with it. The breathable fabric helps kids sleep and stay cool at the same time.

Advice for the Grown-Ups: Catching Those Zzz’s

Autistic adults, we see you! Sleep challenges don’t magically disappear after the teenage years (if only!).

  1. Chill Mode Activated: From guided meditation apps to a simple breathing exercise, finding a way to calm that buzzing brain can make bedtime less of a battleground.
  2. Environment Matters: Think cool, dark, and quiet. Sometimes, it’s the basics that get overlooked. A comfy mattress, blackout curtains, or a fan for white noise can be simple yet effective solutions.
  3. Screen-Awareness: The blue light in your phone’s screen can trick your brain into thinking that it’s the middle of the day. As tempting as it can be to scroll until sleep takes hold, you may have more success setting your phone on your nightstand.
  4. Move Every Day: A regular routine of physical activity can help your body feel more tired when it’s time to feel tired. Some people have a hard time heading straight to bed after exercise, so even working out in the morning can be a great help.
  5. Gadgets to the Rescue: Ever tried a weighted blanket? For some, it’s like a warm, reassuring hug. For others, a white noise machine muffling external sounds is the ticket to dreamland.

Parents in the Mix: How to Support Your Autistic Child’s Sleep

When a child has trouble sleeping, the effects can wear on the whole family. Keep trying different ideas to see what works for your child, and eventually something is bound to work.

  1. Routine and Flexibility: Sounds contradictory, right? While maintaining a bedtime routine is golden, sometimes being flexible based on the day’s events can be beneficial. Maybe after a particularly sensory-overloading day, bedtime needs to be a bit earlier.
  2. Seek the Experts: If sleep remains elusive, it might be time to tap into professional resources. Sleep therapists, occupational therapists, or even certain apps can provide strategies tailored to your child.
  3. Parental Self-Care: While supporting your child’s sleep, don’t forget about yours! Ensure you’re getting rest, seeking support when needed, and perhaps even trying some of those relaxation techniques you’ve learned for your child.

Goodnight and Good Luck!

Swaying to the rhythm of autism and sleep is a dance of patience, understanding, and trial-and-error. But as with any dance, once you get the steps down, the motion becomes more fluid and graceful. Whether you’re on the spectrum or guiding someone who is, remember: every challenge has its solutions, every problem its steps.

Select your sleep strategy, find your groove, and glide into better sleep tonight. Sweet dreams!

adults, autism, autism parenting tips, children, parenting tips, sleep

What does undiagnosed autism in adults look like?

This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Have you ever felt like everyone else has a handbook for social situations, but you never got your copy? Do you have very strong preferences about fabrics or foods? Do you wonder if it’s autism, or if you’re just introverted, sensitive, and quirky?


Look, I’m not a doctor. I’m just another former gifted kid who wears Loop earplugs to sporting events and has to constantly remember to write niceties in her emails. As of this moment, I don’t have the resources to get the whole formal evaluation to find out “for sure” if I’ve got a touch of the ‘tism. But, I’ve done lots of Googling (shoutout to the websites that point to all my Googling as a sign of autism) and I thought I would share some of the things I’ve found.

Understanding the Spectrum

Everyone with autism has different support needs. Doctors often describe autism profiles with three levels, most prominently characterized by those support needs:

  1. Level 1 is often considered mild, and those within this category may learn to mask their symptoms and needs at an early age. This masking may lead them to fall through the cracks, with their autism going unnoticed.
  2. Level 2 represents a moderate need for support, and people in this group might find it harder to communicate in a way that’s understood and accepted by neurotypicals.
  3. Level 3 indicates substantial support needs. People in this category might be nonverbal at times, and are unable to mask.

Some people grew up only understanding autism to describe people who need substantial amounts of support to meet their basic needs. If you have level 1 ASD but the picture of “autism” in your head looks like level 3, then it would make sense that you’d be confused about your experience.

Signs of Undiagnosed Autism in Adults

Since our perception of the world is based on our own experience, it’s easy to assume that everyone thinks, feels, and acts the way we think, feel, and act. And if everyone does it, then it can’t be an autism thing, right?

Your keen pattern recognition skills have probably picked up where I’m going with this, but I’ll go there anyway. First, no. Not everyone thinks, feels, and acts the way you do – that would be statistically improbable anyway. I have a formula in my head for social interactions with strangers, and when I found out that most people just say the things that come into their heads, and it goes well for them? Mind. Blown. Moral of the story: keep an open mind to hearing about how your experiences differ from others.


Verbal Communication

Autistic verbal communication is effective and tends to be direct. Sometimes, it can be so direct that it intimidates neurotypicals, but it’s not on purpose! Both autistic and allistic communication tendencies have their strengths. We can run into issues when both sides don’t keep an open mind about the others’ perspective, but the differences in general communication style are just that: differences.

Let’s revisit the idea of direct verbal communication. If they need or want something, they’re more likely to ask for it directly, and expect others to do the same. On the flip side, allistics put more emphasis on niceties and small talk, and might indirectly mention their needs or wants. For example, a neurotypical might invite a group of people to a party by saying this:

“I’m they are having a party Friday night. It’s a potluck, and we still need drinks!”

The autistic person receiving that message might think to themselves, “huh, drinks are pretty important. I sure hope they invite someone that brings drinks!” and not realize that they themselves had been invited.

Sign #1 of undiagnosed autism: taking things literally. Bonus points if you have thought to yourself, “I don’t have the ‘taking things literally’ sign of autism because I don’t do [very specific thing].”

Sign #2 of undiagnosed autism: finding it easier to communicate with other neurdivergent people, especially if communicating with neurotypicals gets confusing.

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication includes body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, inflection, and other things that aren’t the words coming out of your mouth. Neurotypical people tend to put much greater importance on these nonverbal signals than autistic people do. This applies to both the sending and receiving of messages. Again, neither group is better or worse than the other! The differences in communication, though, can lead to confusion and frustration.

Sign #3: practicing your “yes, I am listening and interested” face.

Sensory Stuff

People with autism become overstimulated from sensory input more quickly and more intensely than their allistic peers. These manifest in different ways for everyone, and different people are sensitive to different sensory triggers. I’ll list a few examples below, but this list is definitely not comprehensive.

  • Hearing electricity in your home, but struggling to understand conversation in restaurants 
  • Using Loop earplugs (or another cool type of earplug) in loud settings 
  • Placing a high priority on clothing fabric, and not being able to stand certain materials. 
  • If you find a texture that feels good on your fingertips, you could play with that object for hours.

Sign #4: having very strong opinions about socks.

Sign #5: if I asked you about food textures that you can’t stand, you would have a list of things that you hate.

Sign #6: your noise-canceling headphones are an absolute lifesaver.


Online Quizzes

Courtesy of Embrace Autism, a phenomenal resource that I love to cite, I’ve linked some common self-assessment questionnaires below. I’ve had doctors recommend these to me, so here I am, recommending them to you.

Autism Spectrum Quotient

The Doctor Decision

If you find that you relate to much of this article (plus the other 7 you read in the past week about this topic) you might be weighing your options about a formal diagnosis. Pursuing a formal autism diagnosis is a personal decision and has its pros and cons. On one hand, receiving a diagnosis might help you gain access to tailored therapy and/or the accommodations that will help you be successful in school and at work. On the other, the process can be challenging, time-consuming, and costly. Regardless of your decision, you are valid and we are accepting of self-diagnosis here.

Your Journey is Just Beginning

If it feels like there are pieces of your life that are starting to make more sense, I encourage you to keep exploring other autism content! You could start with our piece on pathological demand avoidance (PDA) and autism. The more you understand yourself, the better you can meet your needs.

adults, autism, sensory stuff

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