Last week after a month of assessments and tests I was diagnosed Autistic ADHD. Or as it is said now AuDHD, you could also say neurodivergent. An almost 49 year old woman and finding out I am AuADHD. The first thing I said when I found out was “Wow, what now? Do I have a parade?”

I spend my working life with extraordinary neurodivergent people and more and more I was thinking “hmm this is familiar” and finally decided to go check it out. The assessment process and finally the diagnosis was remarkable, validating, amazing, challenging, intense and totally strange all at once. It was like pulling a ball of string that unravelled and suddenly I saw my life newly. It was also like… well it seems like everyone is finding out they are neurodivergent, do I really want to jump on the bandwagon? Well, yes, I do. I do because of the difference it makes to others and for the freedom it gives me. I was facilitating a social hub for autistic teens last week and I introduced myself as AuAHD and said, “I have some sense of how life is for you and I can tell you, that my life is FABULOUS and this all works out.” Something ‘popped’ in them, something became possible.

Nothing about me has changed and at the same time there is a new world to explore. People might say “You? No.” Or “well we are all on the spectrum, aren’t we?” Well, no we are not. There are brains that operate a certain way and other brains that work another and within all of that, many different expressions. It is the cumulation of many questions, views and behaviours that leave clinicians being able to say, “you are autistic/ADHD or you are not.” (To be clear, being autistic does not mean you are ADHD and vice versa. For me I am both.) Each of us may express traits that are considered traits of neurodivergent people, but you cannot look at one or two behaviours alone. You simply are or you are not and there is a difference.

The first space I went to was… well life moves on, so what, I have never labelled myself, why would I now? This label doesn’t say who I am. The next space was, how did I not know? Even thoughts like, have I made this up? Then slowly I could see all the ways I work so hard with my brain and have learnt over the years to accommodate, handle, triumph and then slump into exhaustion. The world would know me as an extrovert and yet my least preferred thing to do is to be with lots of people.

I started to explore what I was thinking and had a minor epiphany.… well, I am short and when I cannot reach the top of the cupboard, I get a chair. BUT with anything to do with my brain, it has been like I am jumping and jumping trying to reach the top of the cupboard and saying to myself “what is wrong with you? Just jump higher, you should be able to reach this, if you keep jumping one day you will.” What is starting to open is the possibility of ‘getting a chair’ so to speak for the parts of my brain that need it. Then I started to see all the things I could get up to if I wasn’t working so hard trying to force my brain to do certain things.

Now I am in a space of wonder, like amazed at my brain. I can think so many things at once and hold them all like individual conversations, perfectly placed and navigate them all at once. I can think thoughts fast and abstractly and outside the realms of other people’s thoughts. I have a connection to people that is impactful and lasting. I am creative beyond any limit. As the General Manager of The A List Hub, that solely exists so neurodivergent young people can find a place where they can “Be Social Your Way” … I have such an opportunity to make a difference.

Our ten-year-old, extraordinary, sassy, brilliant, funny autistic/ADHD daughter said, “well Mum, bye bye neurotypical and hello being yourself.” I could not have said it better.

I have a lot more to say about the way the world currently deals with neurodivergent people, how we assess people, the stereotypes, and the years of ignoring female and female identifying experience, and how we continue to create a world that is purely designed for a neurotypical brain, but for now I am celebrating. For now I am going to continue to advocate and create for this amazing community.

Maybe I will have a parade.

Madeleine Jaine Lobsey – General Manager The A List Hub

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