Are ADHD people smart or dumb?

ADHD aspects: Drawing courtesy of @JesstheMess914

Do you know someone with ADHD?

If you do, then really think about them. Do you find them bumbling through life like Forrest Gump? How do you assess intelligence? Is it only with testing? I’d like to think that most of us can just tell when we’re around a smart person. It doesn’t depend on their perfect grammar or a piece of paper on their wall. We are often intrigued about other people’s minds by the questions they ask. Even if the question is as simple as “why?”, we can wonder about their thought process. How many times have you heard about geniuses being able to change the world, yet unable to do simple household tasks or personal budgeting? Are they smart or dumb? They may just have ADHD.

Why would they be considered otherwise?

In all of my years as a physician, I have come across all types of people. Some smart, some not. I have yet to see a kid with ADHD whose parents aren’t amazed by the child’s hidden talents or an adult with ADHD that doesn’t have an entrepreneurial drive. I see anywhere from 10-15 patients a day just for ADHD. The stories I could tell. I’ve had doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lawyers, engineers, law enforcement, and even one astrophysicist. Most of them diagnosed later in life, just like me. The difference between them and the high school or college dropouts is that one group got motivated to keep going. This is a special thanks to all the GOOD teachers out there that never give up (some of which I have treated for ADHD).

Here’s a list of people with ADHD traits. Are they smart or dumb? (courtesy of mentalup.co)

Top 6 Famous Historical Figures Diagnosed with ADHD

(Click on the link above for a bigger list)

6- Walt Disney – Smart or dumb?

Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, one of the first and biggest cults of the animation world, is also on the list of those who struggled with ADHD especially due to the difficulties he experienced during his school years.

Walt Disney

5- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Smart or dumb?

Mozart, the genius of classical music and one of the biggest composers of the 18th century, is among those who struggled with ADHD according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

4- Alexander Graham Bell– Smart or dumb?

Bell, the inventor of the phone, gained his innovative and problem-solving personality thanks to his struggle with ADHD even though he had serious problems during his school years.

Alexander Graham Bell

3- Thomas Edison– Smart or dumb?

The man who brought light to our lives, the award-winning American inventor Edison, is also believed to have had ADHD. His hyperactivity led him to the urge to always learn and discover something new.

Thomas Edison

2- Albert Einstein– Smart or dumb?

Einstein is one of the most important physicists of the 20th century. He was known for his carelessness and forgetfulness. But Einstein is another award-winning, famous person to prove that it is possible to be successful and productive with ADHD.

Albert Einstein

1- Leonardo Da Vinci– Smart or dumb?

Da Vinci is another instance of a famous person that lived with ADHD. The difficulty of focusing on one single thing due to ADHD caused him to be interested in many different subjects. He was an artist, sculptor, inventor, scientist, musician, architect, anatomist, astronomer, and a mathematician.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Why do they need medicine to get good grades?

We don’t NEED anything if the topic’s interesting enough (or at least engaging). But asking an ADHDer to be calm and focused while studying or taking a test is like asking someone without ADHD to be calm while racing a car. (Race responsibly and on a designated course). We need stimulation which is what stimulant medication offers. It allows our “Ferrari brains” to apply the brakes and actually slow things down (yeah it has the opposite effect). Giving a stimulant to a non-ADHDer applies the throttle and speeds things up.

Why don’t more people with ADHD reveal themselves?

If you clicked to read this blog post, more than likely you know the answer. There is a myth that if you have ADHD, you’re not good at school and probably will drop out like these people. The rest of it is shaming because when you have ADHD, you can’t tell something is wrong because you are just being yourself. The words of the diagnoses don’t help the case either because we don’t have a deficit of attention when something is interesting and we’re not hyperactive when we’re focused on something. The stigma that has been built up around this has made it very difficult to come forward without fear of reprisal or repercussions. Hopefully, people might be less ashamed when they find out that a board certified licensed physician has ADHD. That’s why, I started this blog because I have ADHD too. I don’t know if that makes me smart or dumb.

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Published by Devang Patel

I am a board certified family physician. I am married and have two beautiful girls. I have ADHD too (hence blog name ADHD2.com). I was diagnosed with ADHD during my residency training AFTER medical school. Now I want to help others lead more productive lives by giving practical examples and suggestions.

2 thoughts on “Are ADHD people smart or dumb?

  1. Hi Dr. Patel,
    You truly have helped me realize that I’m not stupid, or flighty, and that I don’t have to feel that way anymore. You are so positive, and inspiring. It helps me to know that you understand what I am going through, and you never talk down to me which is an amazing feeling. Thank you so much for helping me see the light after 37 years of struggling, self doubt, and zero confidence.

    Thank you!

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