Embracing Complexity: The Intersection of ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria, and Emotional Hyperarousal

Jay Getten | Mar 13, 2024 | 8 min read

At BHCS, we recognize and celebrate neurodiversity, viewing everyone’s unique traits and experiences as strengths rather than disorders. While our discussions, including those in our latest article, may use medicalized language to align with established literature, this does not reflect our belief that neurodivergent traits are deficiencies. Our commitment is to empower and support all individuals, advocating for a world that values the diverse contributions of every person. At BHCS, we see the person, not the label.

The human brain has many variations, and each one manifests in different ways, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), ASD (autism spectrum disorder), DCD (dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder), RSD (rejection sensitive dysphoria), or EHA (emotional hyperarousal). These conditions have some similarities and differences that reveal the elaborate diversity of the brain and how it relates to the world. By exploring how these conditions interact and overlap, we can better understand the experiences of neurodivergent people and provide more empathetic, effective support and advocacy.

Neurodevelopmental Diversity: ADHD and ASD

ADHD and ASD, two common neurodevelopmental conditions, have some similarities but also differences. Both conditions affect how people process information, interact with their surroundings, and relate to others. While ADHD involves varying levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, ASD involves a spectrum of social communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors. The combination of ADHD and ASD creates a specific set of challenges and strengths, highlighting the importance of a careful approach to diagnosis and support that respects the uniqueness of each person's experience.

The Emotional Landscape: RSD and EHA in Neurodevelopmental Conditions

EHA and RSD are aspects of emotional experience that are often misunderstood in the context of neurodivergence. EHA is when someone has strong emotional reactions that seem too extreme for what caused them, which can make everyday challenges feel overwhelming. RSD is when someone is very sensitive to rejection or perceived criticism, where a simple comment can feel like a severe hurt. For people with ADHD and ASD, these emotional experiences are not just secondary but essential elements that impact all parts of life, from relationships with others to self-image and work goals.

The link between ADHD, ASD, RSD, and EHA shows how important emotional regulation is, a skill that helps deal with the intense emotional reactions that these conditions cause. It's not only about managing emotions but also acknowledging and accepting them as part of being neurodivergent. This acceptance is vital for building self-compassion and resilience in a world that often views emotional sensitivity as a weakness. The way to increase empowerment for neurodivergent people is to see the value in their emotional depth, turning what may seem like a flaw into a source of empathy, creativity, and connection.

The Overlapping Spectrum

People who have ADHD, ASD, DCD, RSD, and EHA together have a complex range of human experiences that are not easy to classify. Each person at this intersection has a different journey, with a unique mix of difficulties and abilities. While the complexity of their situations may make it hard to diagnose and help them, it also reveals a huge area of possibility and creativity. For example, the strong focus that comes with ADHD can help people excel in fields they are passionate about, and the careful attention to detail that is common in those with autism can result in outstanding outcomes in various areas.

To understand this complex spectrum, we need to change our perspective from focusing only on challenges to recognizing and developing the natural abilities and gifts that neurodivergent people have. This paradigm shift involves seeing beyond diagnostic labels to fully respect the individual, appreciating the rich diversity in ways of thinking, perceiving, and feeling that they bring to our common human fabric. By affirming this varied nature, we create the conditions for promoting a more inclusive and supportive environment, one that values each person’s unique and meaningful contributions.

Strategies for Support and Management

Individuals who are neurodivergent in different ways need a combination of personal and systemic support. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help individuals manage their emotions, challenge negative thoughts, and learn coping skills for emotional instability. Occupational Therapy (OT) can give practical help to those with DCD, improving motor skills and adjusting daily tasks to their abilities. Social skills training can be especially helpful for those with ASD, offering a systematic way to learn and practice communication and social interaction skills.

However, beyond individual interventions, there's a need for societal shifts that affirm and celebrate neurodivergence. This includes creating inclusive educational and workplace environments that recognize and accommodate different learning and working styles, promoting policies that support neurodivergent individuals, and fostering a culture that values diversity in all its forms. By doing so, we not only enhance the well-being of neurodivergent individuals but enrich our communities with their unique perspectives and talents.


People who have ADHD, ASD, DCD, RSD, and EHA are part of a diverse and dynamic group within the neurodiversity spectrum. By learning more and promoting inclusive, neurodivergent-friendly practices, we can better help individuals to manage their own challenges and opportunities. In doing this, we not only respect the variety of the human mind but also appreciate the rich diversity that adds to the range of human experience. Supporting neurodiversity means acknowledging that each person's mind works differently and has unique insights and skills. It's a dedication to understanding, acceptance, and advocacy that upholds the worth and dignity of every individual. Let's keep on learning, supporting, and advocating for a world that sees the beauty and potential in neurodiversity.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Beheshti, A., Chavanon, M.-L., & Christiansen, H. (2020). Emotion dysregulation in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 20(1). Link
    • This meta-analysis investigates the prevalence of emotional dysregulation in adults with ADHD, highlighting its significant impact on individuals' lives. The study synthesizes data from multiple research studies, concluding that emotional dysregulation is a prevalent and critical aspect of ADHD that necessitates a comprehensive approach to treatment.
  • Ke, L., Su, X., Yang, S., Du, Z., Huang, S., & Wang, Y. (2023). New trends in developmental coordination disorder: Multivariate, multidimensional and multimodal. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14. Link
    • This article discusses the recent advances in understanding Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), emphasizing the multivariate, multidimensional, and multimodal aspects of research in this area. It underlines the importance of early detection and intervention, and the evolving global perspective on DCD research.
  • Lino, F., & Pia Rosaria Chieffo, D. (2022). Developmental coordination disorder and most prevalent comorbidities: A narrative review. Children, 9(7). Link
    • This narrative review explores DCD and its most common comorbidities, offering insights into the complex relationships between DCD and other neurodevelopmental conditions. It highlights the challenges in diagnosing and managing DCD, especially given its overlap with conditions such as ADHD and ASD.
  • Marschall, A., PsyD. (2023). Rejection sensitive dysphoria and autism: What to know. Verywell Mind Link
    • This article provides an in-depth look at Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) and its particular impact on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It discusses the heightened sensitivity to rejection and criticism experienced by those with ASD and RSD, along with strategies for support and coping.
  • Omer, S., Jijon, A. M., & Leonard, H. C. (2018). Research review: Internalising symptoms in developmental coordination disorder: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 60(6), 606–621. Link
    • This systematic review and meta-analysis examine the internalizing symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, associated with Developmental Coordination Disorder. The findings reveal a significant correlation between DCD and increased internalizing symptoms, emphasizing the need for holistic approaches to support affected individuals.
  • Service, A. L. (2021). Rejection sensitive dysphoria. Spectrum Life Magazine. Link
    • This article discusses Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria in depth, offering insights into how it affects individuals, particularly those with ADHD. It covers the emotional pain associated with RSD, the evolutionary perspective on its origins, and the societal impacts on those experiencing RSD.
  • Soler-Gutiérrez, A.-M., Pérez-González, J.-C., & Mayas, J. (2023). Evidence of emotion dysregulation as a core symptom of adult ADHD: A systematic review. PLOS ONE, 18(1), e0280131. Link
    • This systematic review consolidates evidence that emotion dysregulation is a core symptom of adult ADHD, impacting social, academic, and professional aspects of life. The article reviews studies on emotion regulation in adults with ADHD and discusses implications for treatment and management.
  • Stansell, D. J. (2007). Giving a face to a hidden disorder: The impact of dyspraxia (EJ967468). ERIC Link
    • This article provides a personal and educational perspective on Dyspraxia, detailing the challenges faced by individuals with this disorder. Through a case study and discussion on the importance of recognition and support, Stansell advocates for greater awareness and intervention strategies in educational settings.

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