Updated: Jun 4
If you work with people with ADHD, you can't help being amazed by their extraordinary creativity. The only shocking thing is that many ADHDers don't even realize how creative they are - it's like their super power is hidden from their view.
Yet scientific studies show that, on average, people with ADHD really have more creative abilities and ideas than neurotypical people.
I hope this evidence lets you recognize and acknowledge your ADHD creativity as a true super power, make the most of it and express it to the fullest. Our increasingly complex world needs our creative solutions!
The ADHD paradox - why we often don't even recognize our greatest strengths
People with ADHD often stand out because of their extraordinary creativity and big-picture thinking. Solutions to complex problems seem to somehow just come to us.
The problem is that many ADHDers don't even recognize their strengths. But why?
Because so many supposedly "easy" things are difficult for us, we seem to discount everything that comes to us easily. We don't recognize our strengths - they just seem "normal". Our own lack of acknowledgment hurts our self-confidence and sense of agency.
Our skewed perception makes us vulnerable to being exploited. Because we're so ashamed of our difficulties, we often have a hard time saying no to excessive demands. We feel as if we need to compensate for a defect, often failing to recognize the value of our accomplishments.
Scientific studies prove ADHD creativity
That's why I'm sharing what scientific studies have shown. Researchers summarized the results of 31 studies (review by Hoogman et al.) - that's a lot of studies, so we can trust the findings (learn more about making sense of scientific evidence here).
When you look at all the studies, these are the findings: on average, people with ADHD truly have more creative skills and ideas than neurotypical people.
Divergent thinking is also increased, but more so in people with ADHD traits (subclinical ADHD) rather than full-blown, clinical ADHD.
Divergent thinking means "dealing with a topic or problem in an open, unsystematic, and experimental way" (Stangl). Sounds a bit like ADHD, doesn't it?
Don't worry, stimulant treatment doesn't hurt creativity
Also, the review proves that taking stimulants for ADHD treatment doesn't affect our creativity.
So there's no reason to forgo medication when it's medically indicated and suffer needlessly for fear that your creativity could go down the drain.
Fully express your superpower - it's more in demand than ever!
I hope you'll recognize that creativity is a huge ADHD strength and start exploiting it to the fullest. Because ADHD isn't just exhausting (which of course it is), but without ADHD, our world would also be less creative and innovative and progressive. In the future, I'll write a separate post about how to be both adaptable and authentic with ADHD, so that you can use your strengths optimally.
The more complex our world becomes, the more important it is that people with ADHD can flourish and live our strengths - because divergent thinking and creative solutions are more in demand and more important than ever.
P.S.: Have a look at this post about our often complex and confusing ADHD behavior - with strengths and weaknesses.
Creativity and ADHD: A review of behavioral studies, the effect of psychostimulants and neural underpinnings. Hoogman M, Stolte M, Baas M, Kroesbergen E. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020 doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.09.029 Link to the review from 2020, covering 31 studies about ADHD and creativity
Divergent Thinking. Online Lexikon für Psychologie und Pädagogik. Stangl, W. (2022, 19. März). Link to Online Lexikon (in German)