ADHD and Autism: Comorbid or Misdiagnosed?

In the autistic community, we have to keep in mind that our thoughts on certain matters are based on our life experiences and basically our relationship with our neurology. We will not have the exact same relationship with our brains as another autistic person. In turn, we will not agree with one another on everything. For example, an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis can sometimes precede an autism diagnosis. This can mean different things for those of us who may share this experience. Some of us may believe that ADHD was a misdiagnosis. I, however, find my ADHD diagnosis to be comorbid with my autism diagnosis.

No two children are alike, even among three. However, neither of my sisters could prepare my parents for the bouncing fetus that developed into the jumping child that they’ve known to be me. My mother was shocked to hear the doctor “prescribe” a glass of wine every night as a way to settle me down. And given every other warning she heard about alcohol during pregnancy, it was not a prescription that she had any interest in filling. The hyperactive baby just had to exert their energy. However, given that we lived on slab foundation, she didn’t want her energetic toddler to risk joint damage later on. As a result, my sisters and I were briefly enrolled in gymnastics as a healthier way to exert that energy. (Briefly because she couldn’t balance gymnastics and Girl Scouts.)

I was diagnosed with “severe ADHD” when I was 6. No, nobody was going to diagnose me with autism in 1997. ADHD seemed to fit since I was ever so fidgety and I was always on the move. Not to mention that I was a very verbal kid. Autistic children weren’t known to be told that they talked too much. But I was told so since kindergarten. I also was seen as gifted even though I wasn’t a fit for the school’s gifted program. Autistic children weren’t seen as gifted unless they “had Asperger’s.” But again, it was 1997. Who ever heard of an aspie girl in 1997? Boys could “have Asperger’s” and ADHD, as far as the psychiatric world was and still is concerned.

Of course my ADHD diagnosis left me far too many questions growing up. What was going on with my issue with bugs, most notorious being harmless butterflies and dragonflies? I always knew it was linked to my issues with public bathrooms. However, I remember my parents thinking that my issues with bugs was a side effect of Adderall. As an 8 or 9 year old who didn’t want to address these “shameful” issues or to continue taking these nasty pills, I allowed them to believe this. I guess I tried to lie my way out of the fact that I still couldn’t deal with either of them regardless of what medication I was on or not. And it made matters worse on me. As an adult with an autism diagnosis, I can now acknowledge that I was having meltdowns.

As a kid, I couldn’t actually identify with kids who were also diagnosed with ADHD. Maybe it was because they weren’t the self-hating and suicidal mess that I was. Maybe they didn’t have self-injury tendencies that they just couldn’t control. Maybe it was because they didn’t find themselves “walking a line between gifted and disabled” only to find out that my internalized ableism was completely wrong on this matter and that there can be overlap. Maybe their parents didn’t have to fight the school to place them with a teacher who could actually tolerate them. Or maybe it was because those peers just had ADHD.

As an adult, I can find a better fit with my autism diagnosis than I could with just an ADHD diagnosis. And I find that the diagnostic criteria for both can overlap. However, I still find that my ADHD is comorbid rather than a smaller diagnosis that can be completely covered by my autism diagnosis. In my experience, I find that not every autistic person is able to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, similar to the way that not every autistic person has gut issues or epilepsy. I find them all to be separate conditions that may accompany one autistic person but may not accompany another. On the other hand, as mentioned, not every autistic person shares this experience or this view on the two diagnoses.

 

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I Had To Talk About The Bridge-Tunnels In Virginia. I Just Had To.

(Disclaimer: All of these images are taken from search engines and MapQuest screenshots. I do not own them!)

Because we have THREE of them! Three in the same region, at that!

There’s so much water within the area. The wide-mouthed James River meets the Chesapeake Bay, and then the James River is fed by smaller rivers, such as the Elizabeth River, which separates the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth (all cities in the state of Virginia are independent cities, therefore not a part of any county.) And the geography means that we have a heavy use of ships here, for naval purposes as well. I mean what wouldn’t people do for their ships? 😉

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The image is a screenshot map of the Hampton Roads or Tidewater region of Virginia, which is made up of independent cities such as Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Newport News and Hampton on the peninsula.

Hampton Roads Beltway

Let’s start with the Hampton Roads Beltway, which is made up of I-64 and I-664.

I-64_sign,_Hampton_Roads
The image is of a sign along I-64 West. The interstate sign is a blue shield with a red rectangle across the top that says “Interstate” in white. Within the blue portion, it says the number in white, 64 here. Beneath the sign is the sign for the Hampton Roads Beltway. It’s a white sign with a seal. Inside the outer red circle of the seal are the words “Hampton Roads Beltway.” The inside of the inner circle contains the Hampton Roads regional flag (dark blue over green with a white wave between. The flag is complete with white stars that form a circle in the center.) Beneath the beltway sign, it says “outer loop.” On the east-bound portion of I-64, it will say “inner loop” on these signs.
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This is a map of the Hampton Roads Beltway with detailed color-coding on related highways served by the beltway, and which areas they serve as well. The red and green portions and their arrows are used for I-64 and I-664 respectively. The arrows show the direction of I-64 EAST and I-664 NORTH. The paragraph below runs through the other roads marked as the Beltway progresses in a clockwise direction.

This is how the Hampton Road Beltway works; it starts as I-64 goes east into Hampton and goes to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel at Fort Monroe. It enters Norfolk at Willoughby Spit, a narrow tract of land that extends out into the water at Willoughby Bay. As I-64 East goes south from the spit, it goes near Naval Station Norfolk and the base as a whole; therefore I-564 marked in purple branches off for commute to the base. As I-64 east continues, it passes Norfolk International airport and gives way for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, marked in yellow. In orange is I-264, which serves the downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth going westbound, and its eastbound serves Virginia Beach in a straight-shot route to the tourist-bound beach. It cuts across the Beltway, creating a smaller belt within. The blue line connecting I-264 and I-64 is I-464, which serves a northern community in Chesapeake known as South Norfolk. This interstate ends at the I-64 interchange and becomes a state route 168. Following the I-64/ I-464/VA-168 interchange, I-64 east continues westward and becomes I-664 North when both sides meet the western end of I-264. From here on, the Hampton Roads Beltway continues north as I-664. Here, the Beltway serves the Western Branch community of Chesapeake, as well as Suffolk before it crosses the James River as the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel. On the Newport News end of the MMMBT, it continues on to meet back up with I-64 on the peninsula. This being said, please note that on the south side, I-64 east will be traveling west, while I-64 west will be traveling east.

Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel

So the oldest bridge-tunnel in the area is the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. It’s very well-known in the area, mostly for its traffic though. It opened 01 November 1957 to connect the peninsula by the city of Hampton to the south side by the city of Norfolk. However, very little, if any, of the bridge-tunnel is actually within Norfolk’s city limits. This bridge-tunnel is an eastern portion of the Hampton Roads Beltway, carrying I-64 across the James River.

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Description: A bridge extends out over water to a man-made island, where it proceeds as a tunnel to the other man-made island before continuing as a bridge again.

Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel

So this image below is of the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-tunnel, connecting the city of Suffolk, on the south end to Newport News on the peninsula to the north. The bridge-tunnel is a part of Interstate 664 (I-664), and completes the Hampton Roads Beltway on I-64. It opened 30 April 1992 in the hopes of reducing the strain on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. However, both bridge-tunnels end up suffering in high traffic time.

water.tunnel
Description: a bridge curves to the left over water as it connects to a man-made island and continues under water as a tunnel then re-emerges as a bridge and highway. This is the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel.

Its name is given to honor the iron ships that battled in within a mile of the modern bridge-tunnel during the American Civil War’s Battle of Hampton Roads. The basic history of the battle goes as follows. Monitor was a Union ship, as was the Merrimack. However, the USS Merrimack was burned but the Union Navy, then taken by the Confederate States and reconstructed as the iron ship CSS Virginia. The Virginia suffered an explosion off Craney island in Norfolk, while the Monitor later shipwrecked off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. While no side technically won the battle, the significance of this battle was that it was the first battle to use iron ships.

Tunnel Traffic

Depending on the time of day, one or both of the tunnels at once will see heavy traffic. But given the HRBT’s proximity to Naval Station Norfolk, the odds aren’t exactly in favor that the HRBT will be the preferred route. But rest-assured, the Monitor-Merrimac may experience high traffic, likely resulting from an accident in the tunnel. In recent years, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) put out signs giving estimated time comparisons before highway interchanges in order for the driver to make a better informed decision on which route to take, but not only for the tunnels.

traffic information
A sign in Newport News giving estimated times to get to VA-168, a toll road toward North Carolina’s Outer Banks, based on current traffic. The timing from that point to VA-168 is currently 54 minutes for both HRBT travel and for MMMBT travel.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel below was the second of the three to open 15 April 1964. This bridge-tunnel isn’t like the others. It connects the south side by way of Virginia Beach (independent city) to Virginia’s Eastern Shore by way of Cape Charles in Northampton County. It also runs a police division that is independent of both Virginia Beach and Northampton County. This is the only bridge-tunnel of the three that is not maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT.) It’s maintained independently by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission. Unlike the other two, this bridge-tunnel has tolls.

Taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel from Virginia Beach

From Interstate 64, you take Northampton Boulevard to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. On Northampton, there is a Wawa gas station /convenience store where you can fill up on gas. Afterward, Northampton Boulevard will take you straight to the bridge. After paying the toll, you start on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel’s Northbound lanes. The first tunnel to encounter this way is the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel. There is a restaurant and gift shop on the southernmost man-made island as well before you enter the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel. There is also a fishing pier with information here. The second tunnel (north) to encounter is the Chesapeake Channel Tunnel. Further along, the bridge will rise, and when you first find yourself on land. This portion is only Fisherman’s Island, which is a national wildlife refuge. Just once more over water, and you will finally arrive on the Eastern Shore.

Tunnel Tolls

The toll rates for the CBBT are currently $15 during peak season for class 1 vehicles, and $13 during off-peak. The CBBT offers discounts for return trips within 24 hours of the first trip, at $3 during peak season, and $5 during off peak season.  E-Z Pass is accepted by the CBBT, and only through that can discounts be processed. More information on the tolls can be found here, and for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as a whole can be found here. They also have a Twitter account that tweets travel updates, if you wish to “follow the gulls.

chesapeake-bay-bridge
Description: A long bridge over a large body of water with two tunnels showing in the image. The tunnel of focus is the Chesapeake Channel Tunnel, while a tunnel in the distance is the Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel. The coastline in the background is of the city of Virginia Beach at the border to Norfolk.

Some Scary Facts About The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

The goal of this portion is for you, the reader, to make a very careful decision on whether or not driving across the bridge-tunnel is ideal for you. That above image is of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and it is a 17.6 mile (28.3 km) bridge over a wide portion of the bay. The water is very deep ranging from 25 to 100 feet (7.6 to 30.5 meters), and each tunnel is 1 lane on each side. This is a long, narrow bridge that is shared by tractor- trailers. Drivers, mostly tractor-trailers have gone overboard, unfortunately, which most likely results in a fatality. The bridge is both beautiful and terrifying, and you may need to make a thorough decision ahead of time on whether or not you can make this drive yourself.

The reason for mentioning this is that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has a driver’s assistance program if the driver has a phobia. Provided that the driver calls (757-331-2960) ahead of time to arrange for it first, it can be arranged for an employee to drive the personal car across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as a way to prevent a potential incident resulting from the phobia. However, the employees aren’t hired exclusively for the driver assistance program. Unless you call in advance, the employees have other work to do.

Yes, Colonial Williamsburg, 9/11 Footage IS Triggering Content! (From My Visit To The 9/11 Museum.)

 I don’t see myself as someone who really gets triggered by content of any kind. Being a Virginian, I never thought that I could be triggered by imagery of the Twin Tower attacks. After all, I’m not someone who knew victims. My parents did, both being from the boroughs of New York City, but not me. Yes, I was horrified to come home from school in 5th grade to see clips of the towers on the news. Assuming that I wasn’t a triggered person doesn’t erase the tragedy that this was to me. Then I visited the 9/11 Memorial/Museum in October 2014.
Let’s start with the Memorial Pools.

Image: One of the Memorial Pools at the 9/11 Memorial. The words engraved at the edge are the names of the 9/11 victims. The water in the pool drains into a square hole in the center of the pool.
 
They were a wonderful way to honor the lives lost that day, in my opinion. There was a pool for the North Tower and the South Tower. The names of the victims were engraved on the edges. The water seemed to drain into oblivion. It was beautiful. Then it was time to go into the museum.
The first place we went in the museum was upstairs, where they were showing a video detailing the events that day. It featured members of the Bush administration, including then-president George W. Bush. Sitting through such videos isn’t exactly my preferred way of learning, but I couldn’t find a big problem with this. Then, we went to the exhibits.

Like the TARDIS in Doctor Who, the museum was literally bigger on the inside. Being in New York, they made great use of the space deep underground. The underground exhibits seemed to have held anything and everything that was possibly recovered from the 2001 wreckage, as well as donations and gifts that were made with love to honor the fallen. Not being personally tied to the tragedy, I wasn’t exactly in a place to complain about just how much the museum held. No, as a kid, I hated the idea that they would build a “Freedom Tower” on the site where thousands died. Honestly, even to this day, I feel like we as a country, milked this day of devastation for all that we could, whether it was for political/ideological gains, to push bigotry, or for “Freedom.” Growing up in a military family, it feels un-American to think this way. All of this being said, I am so glad that a memorial was put in place, in addition to the new tower. So like I said, I can’t complain too much.

But here’s where I made my mistake: I saw a revolving door that held further exhibits behind it. I couldn’t leave the museum without seeing everything, nor could I resist a revolving door, to be honest. Not knowing how much was in there, I signaled to my parents and grandmother that I went past the revolving doors. I don’t remember seeing a warning of the triggering content, only that the use of photography in that section was prohibited. It didn’t take me long to regret going in here, but my family followed me in, so I might as well have seen my way through the end.

So the last words of some of the victims (such as those who managed to call their loved ones first) were immortalized in these exhibits. Some last words written on the walls, others played from saved voice recordings. I think the walls were blue in this section, but it was very early on in this massive exhibit. Then my eyes saw something that I cannot unsee. It was a picture of the twin towers, with a plane in midair just before the fatal collision with the North Tower, I believe. The other tower looked at ease in the image, if I remember correctly. Something about seeing that picture overwhelmed me in a way that I never knew it could. I was done at that point, I was in tears, and I had to get out of there as soon as possible. It was one of the worst feelings for me to have. I can’t even think or describe what I saw in there without crying to this day. I’m not someone who allows myself to cry, to be honest, and to cry in front of other people actually makes a situation worse for me because I can’t be comforted the way that people typically are. That being said, it was not a good time for my dad to be right behind me.

The next issue that I had was in a yellow room, where information on the terrorists was included. There was a chart detailing the rise of Muslim extremism leading up to the attacks, which really pissed me off. Given that this country still struggles a great deal with islamophobia, even 15 years later, I can only see this section of the exhibit by its potential to do harm for the Muslim or even the Middle Eastern population as a whole. It’s 2016 now, and racism is still very much alive. I know that anytime an act of terrorism is committed by someone who “practices Islam,” the world will hold everyone who so much as practices that religion, or those who look like they might, accountable. It’s a shame because we would never hold the Christian community accountable for the actions of the Ku Klux Klan. We wouldn’t profile Caucasians because they look like they could be a member of the Ku Klux Klan. But the way we treat white American in the wake of an attack committed by a white American terrorist only applies to white Americans. That being said, this section of the exhibit could certainly do harm. So like I said, the museum could have and should have done without a section reminding people that this was committed by people claiming to practice Islam, and in turn believing that this is what the religion actually teaches.

Shortly after these sections of the exhibit, my dad caught up with me, and we walked through the rest of the exhibit together. My dad identifies as a moderate Republican, and ensured that we grew up knowing just how blessed we are to have grown up in America. My parents ensured that we knew that people are willing to risk everything to get to America, their lives included, in order to provide a better life for their families back home. This did not stop my dad from seeing these exhibits as overkill. I agree. Not every little item found in the wreckage needed to be included in the exhibits. I agree that a museum is necessary. Like Pearl Harbor, it was a massive loss of lives that occurred within our country. It was an attack that pushed us into war for the first time since I was born. It’s important for people to learn what happened, because it is a significant part of American history. But not everything needs to be included in the museum. Not when families of victims, survivors, or anyone else who could be suffering from PTSD can be triggered by the content. And not when there is a potential to fuel ongoing racism.

My dad and I finally made it out of the enclosed set of exhibits. Then came another problem: my mom and my grandmother became separated in the exhibits, and my mom couldn’t find her way out.

 

Text screenshot (for iMessage on iPhone): The conversation between my parents and I are labeled as “Mom”, “Dad”, and “Me.” It says, “[Mom:] I couldn’t figure out how to get out of here and was very light headed. Finally found a yellow room w/(with) benches… where are you guys?” “[Dad:] We are at the exit of the exhibit. (Text break) Is your mom with you?” “[Mom:] I couldn’t find an exit.” “[Me:] There’s a blue room at the end. That’s all I can say to help.”
  
Text screenshot (for iMessage on iPhone:) This conversation goes: “[Mom:] I sent her (my grandmother) back to look at what she wanted to see.” “[Dad:] You have to go through everything or follow the red exit signs.” “[Mom:] I only see exit doors. (Text break) I kept going in circles it seemed.” “[Dad:] I’m coming back to get you.”
  
Text screenshot (for iMessage on iPhone:) Continued from the previous texts, this says, “[Mom:] I’m in a yellow room past a fire truck. (Text break) I don’t know where my mom is.”

 Fortunately, my dad helped my mom and grandmother out of the exhibit, while I waited at the door. My mom isn’t sure what happened to her there. I don’t know if it was because of her anxiety, but I think that she was overwhelmed. Then again, that’s for her to figure out for herself. All I can say is that for anyone who plans to visit the museum, avoid the enclosed exhibits. If they are in their own room/space behind walls and a door, do not go in there!
Now let’s talk about Colonial Williamsburg!

While their advertisements aren’t targeted for Tidewater Virginia, I’m familiar with their advertisements. I’ve seen them while in New Jersey, and I find their regular ads to be intriguing. I found Colonial Williamsburg to be boring as a kid who grew up an hour from the “Historic Triangle,” but the ads have made me kind of want to go there. Even this Colonial Williamsburg advertisement from a Virginia Tourism guide book is fascinating to me. It’s morbid, but delightfully morbid to me.

Image shows the bottom of a young caucasian girl’s face. She is wearing a pink shirt with a bead necklace. She looks delighted as she is looking at her phone. The text says “Looking for a LITTLE FUN? Try texting some DEAD PEOPLE.”

And I love this commercial. I would’ve loved to see something like this for the Super Bowl ad. It’s awful, but good! I mean who doesn’t occasionally get a rise out of disturbing other people like that? I’m a “high quality doormat,” but I do have that tendency to be a little cruel and play with people’s feelings like that, and I love it.
But I saw the recent Super Bowl commercial online, and no, I can’t like this ad. It takes a more serious approach to advertisement, by reminding the viewers the historical significance of Colonial Williamsburg. Yes, white-centered history in America started in Jamestown and Williamsburg. The James River area has been a crucial part of white-centered history. And the history that we keep includes tragedy. We will always remember the loved ones that we lost along the way, as we should. But that doesn’t make it okay to use footage that can potentially trigger an emotional episode of sorts in survivors, the families of the victims, or anyone else who could be suffering from PTSD as a result of the September 11 attack. Yes, Colonial Williamsburg, you were in the wrong here.