ADHD is an acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is among the most common neurodevelopmental condition that affects children and even adults. ADHD is first diagnosed in small children and often lasts in their adulthood. The affected patients experience problems such as paying attention or controlling their impulsive behaviors.

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High functioning ADHD symptoms include: 
  • Constant daydreaming
  • Forgetfulness
  • Being fidgety
  • Talking too much
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Having difficulties resisting temptation
  • Having trouble getting along with others

While it is normal to display some of the symptoms mentioned above, children with ADHD don’t grow out of their behaviors.

The question is, are people with ADHD smarter? Let’s find out.

Does ADHD Affect Intelligence?

There is a widespread misconception that all kids with ADHD are intelligent, have a high IQ, and are naturally smarter than those without. The truth is that there is no connection between intelligence and this disorder. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects individuals in the same manner across low, average, and high IQ ranges. This is contrary to what most people think. That is why others are still contesting if there are any links between geniuses and ADHD. 

ADHD affects people’s ability to function properly at all levels of endeavor.

This condition can render them helpless when it comes to performing everyday tasks. Due to their failure to accomplish such tasks, other people may believe that individuals with ADHD are not smart or have lower IQs. 

On the contrary, someone with ADHD stands a great chance to experience hyperfocus most of the time. This is simply a state of fixation that ADHD patients tend to immerse themselves in, primarily when focusing on what interests them the most. 

For instance, typical ADHD individuals may display extreme focus on specific activities and tasks better than others. When they do so, those close to them may assume they can do certain activities better than ordinary people. Thus the belief is that those with ADHD have higher IQs. 

The diagnosis process is another reason why most people think there is a correlation between ADHD and high IQ. This process is based solely on long-term observation of ADHD patients and their possible symptoms. 

smart people with add

What Are the Symptoms of High-Functioning ADHD?

No known test can determine whether or not someone has ADHD. This is where the confusion comes in because the diagnosis is usually made through observation. 

Long-term observation may bring out a different picture of someone with ADHD. It may look as though a person with ADHD has an IQ that is higher than average since they tend to focus on their tasks a lot.

Alternatively, the same person may seem to have an IQ lower than average due to a failure to focus on specific activities. 

Most healthcare professionals have been on the receiving end for misdiagnosing ADHD in many patients.

For instance, patients on the autism spectrum, people with bipolar disorder, and those struggling with learning disabilities can display similar symptoms to those fighting with ADHD.

This type of confusion has contributed immensely to people thinking that individuals with ADHD are smarter than others, which is not always the case. 

Are Adults With ADHD Have Higher Intelligence?

As mentioned above, ADHD condition starts in childhood and extends into adulthood.

This begs the question;

Are There Adults With ADHD Who Possess Higher Intelligence or Higher IQs Than Others?

ADHD adults with high IQ seem to lead a perfect life. They also function pretty well. But all these come at a high cost. Such grown-ups feel exhausted and burdened to the extent of blaming themselves for their struggles.

They don’t seem to realize the burden of ADHD on them. Some are not even aware of their condition.

ADHD affects people of different intellectual levels. Some can have higher IQs while others lower IQs. What matters the most is an individual’s ability and potential in carrying out their usual tasks.

There is a considerable overlap of behavior and characteristics across adults with high IQ, ADHD, and creativity.

Here, creativity encompasses the following factors:

  • Impatience
  • Curiosity
  • Low tolerance when bored
  • Charisma
  • High energy
  • Resistance to authority nonconformity
  • Risk-taking in different situations

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Most people with high IQ and Attention Deficit Disorder are known to often excel better at tasks that need divergent thinking. These tasks are usually spontaneous or non-linear and require “out-of-the-box” thinking to handle. 

Any task requiring convergent thinking, accuracy, speed, and logical thinking is not a piece of cake for adults with ADHD. This is because their IQ and intelligence don’t counteract their ADHD condition.

Many think that having a high intelligence quotient makes everything in their lives easier, especially ADHD management. But the research tells an entirely different story. It points out that high IQs do not protect anyone against emotional dysregulation or executive dysfunction associated with ADHD.

Despite their talents and strengths in various fields, high IQ adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can still demonstrate some cognitive difficulties and functional impairments compared to high IQ grown-ups without ADHD.

On the other hand, high IQ makes it easier for most adults to compensate for their abilities for ADHD symptoms. In simple terms, they seem to function well, although this feat is achieved at a price. 

They have to depend heavily on obsessive behaviors to bring out their flawless public persona by investing too much energy and time to achieve this goal.

In the end, they feel burdened or exhausted, causing them to resort to self-monitoring to keep their frustration, shame, anxiety, and disappointment internalized. In extreme cases, they become hypervigilant about concealing anything that might bring out their internal disorganizations and chaos. 

Up to this point, it is evident that higher IQ and ADHD conditions in adults are not related. So it clearly shows that people with ADHD are not always more intelligent than those without, notwithstanding their respective ages. 

Is ADHD Linked to High IQ?

There is an ongoing debate regarding the link between ADHD and high IQ among those with ADHD condition. Also, there is more debate about the correlation between ADHD and high IQ. 

The truth is, ADHD can adversely affect an individual’s ability to perform or function at work and school. But this depends solely on the severity of the conditions and their symptoms. 

In this case, every task will appear difficult even if it looks simple to an ordinary person. If it comes to this level, most people get the impression that the affected individual has a lower intelligence quotient (IQ). 

But different studies tend to differ with this allegation. According to a 2010 report published in the Psychological Medicine journal [1*] , some adults with both ADHD and high IQ were found to possess less cognitive function than those with high IQ but without ADHD.

This study involved a range of memory, verbal, and several problem-solving tests to determine the outcome. Sadly, the test did not include other control groups to make it more effective.

are people with adhd smarter than others

Tips for Managing High-Functioning ADHD

On the other hand, some people with ADHD seem to focus mainly on what they enjoy doing the most. This can easily translate to work-related tasks or schoolwork. As such, it does not imply that these individuals have low IQs. It simply means that they can only focus well on what they like and care most about. 

A separate study published in Psychological Medicine in 2011 further suggested that ADHD and IQ [2*] are not correlated. They are simply separate entities. Together, the two studies show that ADHD cannot accurately predict an individual’s IQ. 

Aside from that, being smart does not always translate into having a high IQ since the correlation between IQ and ADHD is mainly based on misconceptions and stereotypes. What’s more, some dangers come hand in hand with both cases. 

One of them is assuming that anyone with ADHD is more likely to possess a high IQ, hence no need for seeking proper treatment. On the flip side, some people might have the notion that anyone having ADHD is less intelligent than those who don’t. Thus they end up overlooking that individual’s ability. 

What Is the Average IQ for Someone With ADHD?

ADHD is similar across people of different ages. It is also similar among those with low, normal, and high IQ. The ADHD individuals with low IQ fall below 80 on the IQ scale. The normal ones fall between 80 and 120, while those with high IQ are above 120 on the IQ spectrum. 

Even though individuals with ADHD have similar IQs to those without, they tend to experience some challenges in reading, working, or paying attention to specific tasks.

Some research findings suggest that individuals with ADHD condition [3*] , regardless of where they belong on the IQ spectrum, display similar presentations, abilities, and outcomes. 

Each of them is likely to show psychiatric, cognitive, and behavioral features associated with ADHD diagnosis. This indicates that anyone with ADHD is subject to similar treatment and medication. 

Plus, how a person with ADHD thinks depends on their ability and level of intelligence. After all, having a higher IQ with ADHD does not exempt anyone from working twice as long and twice as hard as those with lower IQ to achieve their goals.

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Final Thought

So, are people with ADHD smarter than those without?

The astounding answer is, No! Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects people across all intellectual levels regardless of their age, status, and gender. There are high, medium, or high IQs just in a similar manner as those without ADHD. 

Suppose you suspect that someone close to you has this disorder, reach out to EZcare Clinic for diagnosis and proper treatment. EZCare Clinic provides convenient and effective ADHD treatments through conventional medicine.

Schedule your ADHD/ADD appointment today to learn more about this condition.

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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.