7 Surprising Benefits of Having ADHD

Happy woman at the beach
Photo by Shift Drive / Shutterstock.com

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects millions of people. The American Psychiatric Association says 5% of children have ADHD.

Many more parents, siblings, spouses and friends are touched by ADHD, the preferred medical term for what was once called ADD. The condition has many well-documented downsides. They include:

  • Impulsivity
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Problems heeding the long-term consequences of immediate actions

All of these can have profound effects on success in many areas of life.

However, the disorder also offers some gifts. The ADHD traits that can be problems in some settings are profound advantages in others. In fact, some people see ADHD not as a “disorder” but as an individual difference.

Following are some surprising benefits of ADHD:

1. Creativity

Baimieng / Shutterstock.com

Many of the positive traits associated with ADHD overlap with the characteristics of highly creative people, according to Scientific American.

History’s creative individuals, extraordinary thinkers and brilliant inventors and pioneers often show signs of having had ADHD, according to author and radio commentator Thom Hartmann, who has written widely about ADHD.

People with ADHD may be among “our most creative individuals, our most extraordinary thinkers, our most brilliant inventors and pioneers,” Hartmann writes in the book “The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child.”

Hartmann proposes that people with ADHD may carry genetically coded abilities that once were — and may still be — necessary for human survival and that contribute richness to the culture.

He has described someone with ADHD as a “hunter in a farmer’s world.” By that, he means that traits like restlessness, hyperactivity and obsessive curiosity once helped protect, feed and enrich a hunter-gatherer culture.

By contrast, today’s society requires us to adapt to more routine and repetitive work done indoors.

2. Thinking outside the box

Vadim Sadovski / Shutterstock.com

Something about ADHD allows people to easily grasp patterns, interrelationships and possibilities that others can fail to see.

People with the condition typically prefer to multitask, and they resist focusing on one strand of thinking or work at a time. They need to take a broader view and see connections among disparate subjects. As Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s, tells ADDitude magazine in an article about entrepreneurs with ADHD:

“With ADHD, you’re curious. Your eyes believe what they see. Your ears believe what others say. I learned to trust my eyes.”

So, when customers came into Orfalea’s store looking to use a computer — instead of to copy documents — Orfalea saw an opportunity to expand Kinko’s to include computers.

3. Enthusiasm

carballo / Shutterstock.com

High spirits and infectious enthusiasm are two great attributes that people with ADHD bring to the table, inspiring those around them with the ability to see the fun and possibilities everywhere.

Hartmann explains in an MSN article archived at Winthrop University:

“If a left-handed person has a job cutting origami with right-handed scissors, that doesn’t mean they have a disability; they have context disorder. Short people trying to play basketball have a context disorder.”

4. A rich flow of ideas

Rido / Shutterstock.com

David Neeleman, the inventive founder of JetBlue Airways, sees his ADHD as a huge asset. He tells ADDitude magazine:

“I can distill complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can look out on an industry with all kinds of problems and say, ‘How can I do this better?’ My ADHD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things.”

5. Gregariousness

Rido / Shutterstock.com

People with ADHD can be chatty and outgoing, making it hard for them to rein in their friendliness. Lara Honos-Webb, author of “The Gift of ADHD,” writes in Psychology Today:

“I remember the look of awe on one of my teen client’s face when he realized that he could make a living doing precisely the things that got him into trouble at school. As a physical therapist, he could spend all day talking with other people and being physically active — and drum roll please — make a living at it rather than getting in trouble for it. His gifts of exuberance and interpersonal empathy would now help transform other people’s lives.”

6. Fearlessness

anatoliy_gleb / Shutterstock.com

People with ADD/ADHD are so focused on the here and now that they tend not to consider the consequences of their actions. Laurie DuPar, an ADHD coach who helps people manage their condition, says this is why people with ADHD are so much more likely to be entrepreneurs. DuPar notes:

“This is a benefit for the entrepreneur since it means they will act on an opportunity rather than miss it due to over analyzing their actions.”

7. Intuition

Stocksnapper / Shutterstock.com

Edward (Ned) Hallowell is a psychiatrist and educator with ADD who has written and spoken widely about the gifts associated with the disorder. According to his Hallowell Center website:

“People with ADD tend to have many creative talents (usually underdeveloped until the diagnosis is made) and a highly original, out-of-the-box way of thinking. As highly intuitive people with a special ‘feel’ for life, they can possess an almost ‘sixth sense’ that lets them see straight to the heart of a matter instead of having to think it through methodically.”

Do you know of anyone — including yourself — who has ADHD and is thriving? Share your story by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

3 Big Medicare Costs Just Got Bigger
3 Big Medicare Costs Just Got Bigger

Some Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2020 will take a bigger bite out of Social Security payments.

8 Award-Winning Products That Impressed 40,000 Shoppers
8 Award-Winning Products That Impressed 40,000 Shoppers

The Product of the Year awards help shoppers find the best pet products, personal care items and everything in between.

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps
How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck in 8 Steps

Does it feel like your paycheck is gone the moment you get it? You can break that vicious cycle.

14 Products That Keep Foods Fresh Longer
14 Products That Keep Foods Fresh Longer

We’ve rounded up innovative Amazon purchases to lengthen the life of your favorite foods and beverages.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

5 Ways Joe Biden Wants Social Security to Change
5 Ways Joe Biden Wants Social Security to Change

Here’s where Biden — as well as Trump — stands on the future of the Social Security retirement system.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon
10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon

These freebies are available to anyone — no Prime membership necessary.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them
15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.