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Getting a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for yourself or your child can be jarring. But while certain characteristics of ADHD, such as struggling to sit still, difficulty focusing, and impulsive behavior, can cause people to have trouble reaching their full potential in school or at work, there are also benefits of ADHD.
These ADHD "superpowers"—including high energy levels and creativity—mean that living with ADHD isn’t all bad. This article with discuss the strengths of ADHD.
ADHD Strengths and Benefits
People with ADHD have physical characteristics in their brains that lead to the symptoms of the disorder, including impulsive behavior and trouble paying attention. However, those characteristics can lead to benefits, too. For example, hyperactivity (not being able to sit still) can be a frustrating symptom of ADHD, but the flip side of that is it provides higher energy levels on average than in people without ADHD, according to a report of people with ADHD.
Additional benefits of ADHD include the following:
- Energy: A small study found that people with ADHD reported liking their higher energy levels.
- Self-awareness: The treatment for ADHD often includes therapies that encourage self-regulation (the ability to manage emotions and behaviors). Because of that, people with ADHD learn their triggers and patterns and how to control them better than many neurotypical people.
- Self-reliance: As part of treatment, people with ADHD learn how to soothe and regulate themselves, a skill that many neurotypical people struggle with.
- Resilience: Resilience, or the ability to bounce back from difficulties, is a predictor of success. Parents and teachers say that most kids with ADHD are resilient.
At Work or School
- Creativity: Creative problem-solving is instrumental for success at school and work. Research has found that people with ADHD have more creativity and idea generation than people without the disorder. This can lead to outside-the-box thinking that is so important for innovation.
- Hyper-focus: Many people with ADHD become hyper-focused on things that interest them. This can lead to impeccable attention to detail and passion for school and work projects.
- Risk tolerance: People with ADHD often have higher risk tolerance than people without the condition. In some situations, this can be beneficial, allowing them to try solutions that others might not.
- Clear expectations: In order to cope with the symptoms of ADHD, people with ADHD and the people they’re close to often have open, honest conversations about expectations—something that benefits both people and can strengthen the relationship.
- Impulsivity: There are some situations in which impulsive behavior can be a drawback, but in long-term relationships impulsivity and playfulness help keep a spark alive.
- Receptiveness to therapy and behavioral approaches: Many people with ADHD are receptive to trying therapies or new approaches, which can help when the relationship encounters challenges.
Are ADHD Superpowers Real?
There’s been a lot of focus on the harmful symptoms of ADHD. Although there’s less research on ADHD superpowers, people with ADHD report that they are more energetic, creative, courageous, and resilient than people without the condition. While there’s a lot more research to be done about the benefits of ADHD, focusing on the benefits can help you or your child live with ADHD more positively.
Benefits of ADHD Medication
About 62% of children with ADHD take medication to treat their condition. These medications, which include stimulants and non-stimulants, have lots of benefits for people with ADHD. People on medications often experience a reduction of ADHD symptoms, so they’re better able to focus on and complete tasks at school or work. In addition, people with ADHD who are on medications have a lowered risk for:
- Accidents, including motor vehicle accidents
- Substance use disorder (addiction)
- Falling behind at school
Balancing ADHD Skills and Struggles
Although there are some perks to how a person with ADHD thinks, the negative impact of ADHD is real. Because of this, it’s important for people with ADHD to learn how to overcome their negative symptoms, while focusing on those that make their lives easier.
Through trial and error, many people with ADHD find organizational hacks that help with ADHD. Therapists can help brainstorm ideas. Simple things, like sticking or a schedule, putting essential items like keys in a designated spot, or taking a few minutes to meditate before starting the day, can all make a difference for people with ADHD.
People with ADHD are at increased risk for other mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Stay aware of this, and if you begin to experience symptoms, reach out to a mental health professional who has experience working with people with ADHD.
ADHD Celebrities and Advocacy
Seeing people living healthy, successful lives with ADHD can be inspiring. Organizations like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) provide resources, support and inspiration for families touched by ADHD.
In addition, many celebrities have spoken about their own struggles and successes navigating life with ADHD, including:
- Olympic gymnast Simone Biles
- Singer-actor Justin Timberlake
- Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps
- Singer Adam Levine
- TV personality Ty Pennington
- Chef Jamie Oliver
Having ADHD impacts many areas of your life. Not all those impacts are negative, however. People may also experience benefits of ADHD, including increased creativity and energy levels. In addition, ADHD medications have many benefits for people with ADHD, including reducing their risk for accidents or addiction.
A Word From Verywell
It’s easy to focus on the negative impacts of ADHD, but there are benefits to the condition, as well. People with ADHD report being energetic, creative, courageous, and resilient. Learning how to lean into these strengths while controlling symptoms can help you reach your full potential, despite ADHD.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When would ADHD be considered an advantage?
It’s important not to overlook the real symptoms of ADHD, including hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and trouble paying attention. However, when someone is able to control these negative symptoms through medication and behavioral changes, they’re also better able to take advantage of the benefits of ADHD, including increased creativity and energy levels.
- How do weighted blankets help ADHD patients?
It is believed that weighted blankets have a calming effect on the central nervous system. Because of this, weighted blankets can help people with ADHD or other conditions regulate and calm themselves.
- Are students with ADHD gifted?
People with ADHD can be gifted, although not all are. Many children with ADHD have trouble succeeding in school and work, but behavioral therapies and accommodations can help both those who are and aren't gifted reach their full potential.
- Is IQ an accurate way to measure ADHD abilities?
People with ADHD typically test lower on IQ assessments than people without the condition. However, research indicates that IQ tests may not properly capture the abilities of people with ADHD. To determine your or your child’s abilities, you should work with a therapy team to create a way to fully identify and nurture your strengths and creativity.
- How do people with ADHD think and feel?
Everyone with ADHD thinks and feels differently. If you’re wondering about someone with ADHD in your life, it’s best to have a direct conversation with them about their thoughts and feelings