4 mins

High functioning autism and ADHD – the signs and what it means

If you’re curious about high functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD in adults, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be diving into what these terms really mean, identifying some of the signs to look out for, and guiding you towards choosing the right assessment. This isn’t about labels – it’s about understanding yourself or someone close to you better.

What does it mean to be high functioning?

The term ‘high functioning’ in the context of autism and ADHD isn’t about one’s abilities or intelligence. Instead, it simply suggests that someone doesn’t necessarily show the stereotypical, more obvious symptoms associated with these conditions. People with high functioning autism or ADHD often develop coping strategies that make their symptoms appear less noticeable. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t face challenges or require support.

High functioning autism in adults

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), commonly known just as autism, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviours or interests. Adults with high functioning autism may have more nuanced difficulties in these areas that aren’t immediately obvious.

Signs of high functioning autism in adults:

Social challenges – difficulty in reading social cues, understanding body language, or maintaining eye contact.

Communication nuances – problems with understanding sarcasm, jokes, or taking things literally.

Love for routine – engaging in specific routines or rituals and experiencing distress when these routines are suddenly changed.

Specialised interests – intense focus on particular subjects or hobbies.

High functioning ADHD in adults

ADHD is often mistakenly considered a childhood disorder. However, it can – and does – continue into adulthood. Adult ADHD is characterised by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

Signs of high functioning ADHD in adults:

Inattention – difficulty in maintaining focus, being easily distracted, poor organisational skills.

Hyperactivity – Feeling restless, always needing to be doing something, trouble with sitting still.

Impulsiveness – making quick decisions without considering the consequences, interrupting conversations etc.

Understanding the overlap and differences

It’s important to note that autism and ADHD can coexist. Some people may find that they experience traits of both conditions. Understanding the specific challenges you face is important when it comes to getting the right support.

The importance of an assessment

If you’re recognising some of these signs in yourself or someone you know, it might be time to consider an assessment. It’s essential to remember that self-diagnosis can be misleading, and professional evaluation is key in understanding your unique experiences.

Going for an assessment

Assessments for autism and ADHD are thorough processes involving questionnaires, interviews, and sometimes observation. They aim to understand your developmental history, current challenges, and how these are impacting your day-to-day life.

Why choose a combination assessment?

Not sure if it’s autism, ADHD, or both? A combination assessment can look at the whole picture, checking out symptoms from both sides to give you a clearer understanding.

Taking the next step

Recognising the signs and considering an assessment is an important first step. It’s about getting to know yourself better and finding the best ways to manage your unique challenges. It’s not about being put in a box; it’s about discovering more about yourself and how you can make your life even better.

So, remember, everyone’s story is different. Whether it’s high functioning autism, ADHD, or both, getting to grips with your own way of thinking and doing things is empowering. It’s all about embracing who you are, recognising what you’re great at, and getting support where you need it.

High functioning autism and ADHD in adults are complex, nuanced, and often misunderstood. If you resonate with the signs discussed, consider reaching out for an assessment. It’s a step towards not just understanding yourself better but also towards a journey of self-acceptance and growth. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and support is always available.


If you have any questions or would like to book an assessment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Understanding yourself is the first step towards thriving in your unique way.

Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni

30 January 2024

"Dr. Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector."

You may like these...

1 min

How does bereavement affect different people?

2 mins

How can ACT help someone with an eating disorder?

1 min

Are children and young people receptive to talking therapy?

2 mins

I am an emotional eater, how can therapy help me?

Start your journey

Today

Athena Lazaridou

Athena is a Pilates instructor with 8 years’ experience in the field. After completing a Power Pilates Mat Certification in Athens, she went on to complete the Full Comprehensive Classical Pilates Certification with Equinox in Kensington.  She has been teaching Pilates at Equinox for the past 6 years in addition to her own private clients who she trains both face to face and virtually.

Athena has a passion for helping people get stronger and fitter as well as helping those recovering from injury regain their strength and mobility.  Over the years, she has worked with athletes to incorporate Pilates into their training and improve performance. Athena has also worked with prenatal and postnatal women who may be experiencing depression or other mental health difficulties and used Pilates to facilitate a positive impact on their mental health.

Athena is very passionate about improving physical and mental well-being and has recently incorporated Sound Healing into her work, as she believes it to be one of the best ways of ‘letting go’ and releasing stale energy whilst increasing greater self-awareness.