The Strengths of People With ADHD

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If you or your child are living with ADHD, you've probably heard more than enough about your weaknesses, challenges, and issues. The good news, though, is that ADHD — when channeled in the right direction — can be a huge asset. In fact, some speculate that ​entertainers Justin Timberlake and Robin Williams, athletes Terry Bradshaw and Pete Rose, inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, physicist Albert Einstein and composer Wolfgang Mozart might all have been "gifted" with ADHD.

If you have ADHD, you are in great company! Different can be good. Why not turn those problems into strengths?


Many people with ADHD are extremely creative and imaginative. They are often graced with tremendous originality and expressiveness. Their fresh, inventive imagination is a powerful tool! Exercise your creative energy through acting, singing, playing an instrument, building, painting, or otherwise exploring your inner artist or engineer. If you have a child with ADHD, consider supporting her creative interests by providing the tools and support she needs to discover her own talents.


What about the risk-taking that sometimes comes along with ADHD? Some of the most prominent people in business moved up in the business world because of their willingness to take risks. The same is true of people who have achieved great physical goals such as climbing mountain peaks, crossing oceans, and earning fame as extreme athletes.

Looking at the Big Picture

People with ADHD are often criticized for missing details and losing focus, yet they are often magnificent at looking at the whole picture. They are often very perceptive and can look at all sides to a situation, rather than keeping a narrow, one-sided view. They are drawn to abstract ideas. All these abilities are perfect for a leader who must provide a vision without micromanaging his team.

Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box is a common thread among people with ADHD. They are nonconformists and they can generate powerfully imaginative ideas because they do think outside the boundaries that impede others. While this can be a problem in school, it can become a true asset in many different fields of work.

Comfortable With Change and Chaos

Individuals with ADHD sometimes live with chaos and confusion! Yet with specific coping strategies, they adapt well. They are often able to thrive under pressure. Many careers require just those types of skills — including emergency medical personnel and firefighters.

Lots of Energy

Being “on the go” can be good. People with ADHD may have lots of energy. They are gung ho and ready for action. They often have outgoing, spontaneous, passionate personalities. Imagine what an asset that is for someone who heads up an organization, entertains, raises funds, or runs for office!

Our perceptions can have a powerful effect on people. Turning these often debilitating symptoms around and seeing them in a positive light can be helpful. It provides us with more insight into how we may best teach to these strengths, how we can value and embrace these differences.

By Keath Low
 Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD.