ADHD and Co-occurrences of Neurodiverse Experiences

What you'll learn


ADHD and Co-occurrences

  • ADHD can be genetically inherited or acquired through external factors such as traumatic brain injury, premature delivery, low birth weight, or trauma.
  • ADHD likely travels with other co-occurrences in each of us.

When you first find out you have ADHD it can take over your whole life. It’s all you think about. You associate everything in your life with ADHD and view all of your experiences from an ADHD perspective.

It’s true to say that, upon diagnosis, we go through a cycle of grief. We’re unmasked, we become unsure of what our true self looks like, we struggle to identify which part of us is actually masking. And then we’re thrown a whole bag of behavioural criteria within the DSM-V and are expected to fit ourselves into one of the ‘accepted’ definitions of an ADHDer.

In this blog we’ll explore what causes ADHD and how we can experience co-occurrence.

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There are few accepted causes of ADHD: Genetics and other external risk factors. Let’s take a closer look at both.

Genetics: ADHD tends to run in families. There have been several reports written around the heritability of ADHD, with most surmising that individuals with ADHD have a 74% chance of passing it on to their children.

While ADHD is a childhood-onset condition, it’s thought that around two thirds of ADHDers go on to experience challenges in adulthood.

External risk factors: Traumatic brain injury, premature delivery, low birth weight, or trauma. 

People who experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) or childhood trauma have been thought likely to develop ADHD-like traits.

However, what we don’t know is which came first – inherited conditions or those caused by our lived experiences?

Having spoken to many experts in the course of my work, and having seen the experience arise within families, there does seem to be a strong genetic precedence to ADHD.

There are so many different – and yet similar – neurodiverse conditions, which makes diagnosing ADHD difficult. Many ADHDers have received only partial – or incorrect – diagnoses which has caused problems further down the line due to the wrong support being sought. This can mean the support offered is insufficient, and in some cases can do more harm than good.

Here are some statistics around difficulties in ‘labelling’ ADHDers and the other ND conditions that may co-occur:

  • Co-occurrence of Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and ADHD = 70%
  • Up to 90% people with Tourette’s also have ADHD
  • Co-occurrence of Dyslexia and ADHD = 35-40%
  • Co-occurrence of Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and ADHD = 22%

So it’s clear to see that mental health conditions can co-occur with ADHD which, particularly in women, can cause problems with diagnosing the disorder. It’s been our experience that many women and girls have been mistakenly treated for anxiety or depression instead of tackling the root of their issues – ADHD or ASC.

If you’d like to understand how to thrive with ADHD in your life and work, check out our ADHD Workplace Adjustments & Wellbeing course

When you find that your ADHD co-occurs with other conditions, it can be hard to explain what this means in the workplace, you can request your workplace to book Sam for neurodiversity awareness training.

We also provide our neurodiversity training in eLearning format for the managers at your organisation. 


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