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Are Autism and ADHD over diagnosed?

There is a lot of negative stigma in society about Autism and ADHD being over-diagnosed. People will label us as being attention-seekers, or drug-seekers or minimise our debilitating issues (“everyone has trouble focussing sometimes…”) for trying to find a diagnosis.

It is true that the numbers of people being diagnosed is going up, but that’s because we are getting better at understanding what Autism and ADHD are and how to diagnose them.

For example, before 2013 you couldn’t have both Autism and ADHD, you had to pick one (sorry to you AuDHDers out there!) Another reason is that other conditions that were thought to be separate are now better understood as falling under the neurodivergent umbrella. (E.g, asperger’s syndrome is now understood as a part of the Autism spectrum, ADD and ADHD are now just one thing.) (*the reasons why we no longer use the term Asperger's anymore will need it's own post!)

Research has shown that Autism and ADHD are under-diagnosed, especially in girls and women, indigenous people, and other minority groups. Not having the right understanding about being neurodivergent means not getting the right kind of support. When that happens, it can lead to all sorts of terrible outcomes in neurodivergent people: from increased risk of suicide, increased risk of developing mental health issues, to neurodivergent burnout.

So no, Autism and ADHD are NOT being over diagnosed, and this myth can get in the way of people getting the right support they need.


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