Floating Focus – Holly's Experience
Some autistic people may find it difficult to focus on one thing for an extended period of time, especially if it isn’t of any interest to them. Distractions in the external environment can shift their focus away from one task to another.
Sensory sensitivities mean individuals can feel overwhelmed by different sensory inputs, such as lights, sounds, and smells, and this can sometimes make it difficult to concentrate.
Holly, an ambitious entrepreneur and Futures learner, shares her experience as an autistic young adult with ADHD.
According to research from Autistica, around 3 in 10 autistic adults have ADHD, which is characterised by a difficulty sustaining focus and a short attention span. As a result, Holly’s mind often wanders between different topics.
She said: “We’re different thinking people, we’ve got different points of view. It affects everyone differently, the only way I can describe it is like a computer that doesn’t have all its updates or the latest software.”
Everyone is unique and their experiences vary widely – while some people may struggle to focus, others can become fixated on certain topics for a lengthy duration. If something is of interest, individuals might channel a high level of attention and concentration to that area.
She added: “We need to stop making people feel like they have the wrong personality and that the personality they have is the way to go.”
It is crucial to respect and value individual differences. Instead of coercing people to behave a specific way, it is essential that they are comfortable being their authentic selves. Otherwise, this can lead to masking, feelings of isolation and mental health issues.
Challenges with maintaining focus can impact day-to-day life, from education settings to the workplace. By listening to each person and taking an individualised support approach, accommodations can be implemented to meet their needs and help them to thrive.
If we embrace neurodiverse traits, we can recognise and appreciate all of the amazing strengths that come with thinking differently.
She continued: “Have some respect for people with my sort of needs…And anyone who doesn’t, round them up and ship them off to an island.”
“Every person with special needs or additional needs, they’re entitled to paid work as much as the next person.”