Diagnosed at 37: Unraveling the Mysteries of Autism and ADHD in Adulthood

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At the age of 37, Dr. Megan Neff, a clinical psychologist, underwent a life-changing revelation when she was diagnosed with autism and ADHD, often collectively referred to as AuDHD. This diagnosis marked a turning point in her career and personal life.

Autism and ADHD in Adulthood

Neff’s journey towards this diagnosis began when her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD, prompting her to explore the possibility of autism due to observed symptoms. This curiosity ignited her passion for understanding autism, which eventually led her to suspect that she too might have ADHD and autism.

With her background in psychology, Neff delved into peer-reviewed literature, IQ tests, and personality assessments, strengthening her suspicion.

Six months later, she received confirmation from a psychologist—a diagnosis of AuDHD. This revelation provided her with a newfound lens to understand herself.

Prior to her diagnosis, Neff had been masking many of her symptoms, especially during three years of therapy focused on exploring repressed trauma. She had struggled to comprehend her sensory sensitivities and social aversions, often attributing them to trauma.

The diagnosis helped her realize that small talk and socializing were particularly challenging, leading her to rely heavily on masking techniques, common among individuals with autism and ADHD.

Masking also explained why many women and gender non-conforming people receive late diagnoses or are misdiagnosed with conditions like borderline personality disorder. Neff’s own journey illustrated the skepticism that can arise when individuals who mask receive a diagnosis, even from close loved ones.

Neff’s diagnosis also highlighted her unique strengths. She identified hyper-fixation as her dominant autistic trait, driving her to become intensely obsessive about her interests, especially in the field of mental health and neurodivergence.

Her self-soothing mechanism involved repetition and categorization, deeply connected to her special interest in psychology.

This diagnosis led to a profound shift in Neff’s life. She transitioned from self-criticism and pushing through discomfort to self-compassion.

Recognizing that social interactions demanded more energy from her, she adjusted her career accordingly. She now operates a private practice from home, focusing on neurodivergent patients. Additionally, she educates people about autism and ADHD through a popular Instagram account.

In conclusion, Dr. Megan Neff’s late diagnosis of autism and ADHD reshaped her life and career. Her story serves as an inspiration to others, emphasizing the importance of self-discovery and understanding in the journey towards embracing one’s neurodiversity.

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