Mensa ADHD Special Interest Group 623 Members

Update. Now 636 Members

IQ score bell chart and MENSA

IQ Chart by  See their post on What Different IQ Scores Mean 
The next time some moron tells you that you can’t have ADD because you did well in school tell them about this.

There’s a Mensa Special Interest Group on ADD / ADHD that has 225 update 686 members now. You have to be a member of Mensa to join and to join Mensa you need a verified IQ of 130. The top 2%.

Here’s the intro to the group

What happens when someone has both a high IQ AND attention deficit disorder? What if one or  both go undiagnosed? There are many geniuses who are lost, both to themselves and to society, because the combined effects of high IQ and A.D.D. are not fully understood. This SIG is dedicated to sharing experiences, solutions, connections and hope.

Here’s what a Mensa member who has ADD, is in medical school and who’s blog is called Head rush  (sadly blog now deleted) described the email conversation after he joined the group.

1 minute later, I am sitting here at my desk having a brain hemorrhage because I am trying to follow the conversation thread.

It was like listening to Good Will Hunting after drinking 97 cans of Red Bull. Nothing like 100 people firing off intellectual jokes and then forgetting to tell the punch line and instead discussing the chemical components of rocket fuel.

One common thing I notice in some of my ADHD coaching clients is that they found school easy, and very boring. They often got A’s with little effort. Because they did well in school the often were not diagnosed with ADD, because of the mistaken belief that if you have ADD you do poorly in school. Many people I know with ADD seem smarter than average.

Many ADDers do have problems in school and especially the 30% of them with learning disabilities. But not all do. Many ADDers are also gifted. Google “adhd gifted” and you’ll find 2,900 hits. I did pretty well in school and university, made the dean’s honours list and got one of my essays published. The main problems were ADD related procrastination, time mismangement, and associated stress, i.e., cramming for a final the night before.

If you’re gifted and have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, what are your main challenges associated with ADHD?

48 thoughts on “Mensa ADHD Special Interest Group 623 Members”

  1. I have adhd or something haha yeah I couldnt do anything in school I thought the system was really stupid… well I know its stupid.. you dont need any of that stuff… anywho.. I failed a lot in school but mostly in math the math doesnt make sence to me just sacred geometry and pi..
    I did great with independant study… I got an A in government class because I got to do it all on my own.. eveyone in my high school class got the highest of a D… now theres obviously something wrong with school if supposedly “normal” kids are failing.. when I kid like me got an A and Bs in other subjects I would normally fail in school. i got a C in math after always failing.. at least I got to understand alittle of it.. haha
    The world needs to meet the needs of the new wave of evolutionized children. and stop giving them chemicals. that makes kids act all out of balance cause their bodies arent ment for chemicals… only real fresh food.. you know they kind we all have forsaken for the past century.. the past comes up to bite the world in the butt. 🙂
    Spread Love and understanding

  2. I have ADHD and Asperger’s. I was missed at school mainly because they were like “oooh he’s got a high IQ”. My mum kept telling them yeah but there is some other problem there, and wanted to have special support but they refused ‘cos I had a high IQ and they didn’t consider I needed special support as I was just hyperactive. At the end of school I ended up with 3 C’s, after finding out I had AS and ADHD I went back to college to re-take GCSE English (I’d got 2 F’s in English at school), I then got 2 C’s at College, unfortunately at College level you can’t retake the original GCSE, you take a toned down version of it which has a maximum score of C, we did a presentation though and I was told that we would have scored A on the presentation but they couldn’t score us any higher than C due to this limitation (shame I’d really like to know what would be my proper mark in English with proper support – along with my proper marks in all my other subjects – I highly suspect in Maths and IT I could have easily got an A, but without the right support ended up with a C and a D, now though I have HND in Software Engineering).

  3. I have ADHD but was not diagnosed until age 66. In grade school and the first two years of high school, I received straight A’s. I never studied, never completed an assignment, and never cracked a book. It was said that I had an IQ of 146, and my mom had placed me in Mensa by taking me in for testing. The final two years in high school, I barely passed many classes while I got A’s in others. I was much more interested in aircraft design and preferred the challenge of designing and building my own flying models. I won the California State Championships in hand launched glider at age 17 competing against 30 to 50 year old adults.

    I never could do math. I could not sit still long enough to memorize the tables. It was simply beyond me. I am still extremely poor at math. I have been on dextroamphetamine for two months now and I finally have the ability to study without my mind wandering or falling asleep. I wish i knew my last name at the time I took the Mensa test. I most certainly cannot pass it now because of my zero abilities in math. You think a way for long enough and given time, you can become somewhat stuck, or possibly disheartened enough that the will to go through 10 years of missed events is just not wort the problems.

    I have spent much of my life studying psychology, and as a person who feels well informed and perhaps even a bit uniquely gifted at that study, I can say with some conviction that the older Stanford-Binet, the MMPI, (of my youthful generation) and some of the current tests do not accurately measure or quantify everyone’s intellectual abilities nor measure all some have to offer.

    Myself, as example. My friends and close associates are all gifted people. We match well, and they feel that I am gifted as well, yet I am certain I would not score well on most tests. I would love to have the opportunity to be back in Mensa. I recall it as a child and I felt like I was finally with people who were interesting to me. Relating to the usual crowd, I feel much like a person with an average IQ would feel in a room full of developmentally challenged (old term-retarded) people. I am far beyond almost everyone I know. i seem to float through problems as if they were simple things kids do for fun. In fact, I don’t look at problems, as “Problems”, but as solutions in production. It seems little is not solvable. BUT… put a time table on it and I will probably fail. I don’t know why that is, but it may possibly be a idiosyncratic neurosynaptic sort of misfire… who would know without extensive research on such individuals and I have only known two in my lifetime. Additionally, at my still young age, I have already noticed the beginnings of memory difficulties. My short term memory has taken a somewhat noticeable hit.

    Just some interesting things to pass along to those of you who might be as affected as I have been with undiagnosed adult ADHD. I should have been, as I could not be contained as a youth. I recall in first grade, the teacher tied me to my desk. I was shortly advanced to the second grade and the new teacher was a bit more tolerant of my high activity level. She advanced me to the third grade in about two weeks, and I remained a few years ahead of my classmates. Fortunately, I was quite tall, so I fit well and did not receive much heckling about being younger.

    Another reason I am submitting this is on a whim that someone may know a way of being tested by Mensa in any manner but the usual. It is obvious to myself and others that I am of a much higher IQ but my disuse of any mathematics for 62 years as well as a short term memory problem and the difficulties of ADHD make it unlikely I could enter. I suppose I still belong but I have no certificates nor am I able to recall my last name at that time. My mother was married many times, was herself a highly creative person and a gifted artist and designer, but she was also quite nutz. No problem, as that happens to some, but it does create a problem searching for my original identity with Mensa.

    Thanks, any comments will be sent to me and I can respond.

  4. Elizabeth Olmeda

    Oddly enough I went through the same, as a child I was ignored by my teachers. I was reffered to as annoying and hyperactive. They told my parents to test me for ADHD although they never did cause they knew I was smart. I have never recieved good grades in school because I never cared enough to. I always did well on test because I liked them they were easy to me. My teachers wondered how i did so well if all i did was play my game boy or draw during the whole class. They would allow it because otherwise I was too fidgety and talked too much. I took a couple of IQ tests, I scored 165 on one and 146 on another. I could read English in Kindergarten although I learned english that very year, Spanish was my first language. I always finished my school work faster than the rest and was done w everything for the day by recess at 10 sometimes my teacher would give me extra class work so i wouldn’t disturb the rest. I have not to this day been able to complete a homework assignment on my own time. I lack concentration and organizational skill. I ussually think at 100 miles per hour and can only act at 5 miles per hour. I don’t get why I can’t concentrate on my thoughts but I know I am a very quick thinker. Let me know what you think.

  5. Wendy Behrend

    In response to J Cook:
    I too was not properly diagnosed with ADHD until late -age 40. As a child, I was tested in the 99th percentile, but that “knowledge” was quickly abandoned when it was decided I was “willful” and “lazy” -I honestly had forgotten I was supposed to be bright.

    I understand your wanting to avoid the IQ test because of the math. But listen to me, IT WON’T MATTER. My IQ was tested in a neuropsychological evaluation, because of my complaints about my horrible memory. (I’d gone for years in and out of Mental wards, heavily medicated, continually misdiagnosed, having co-morbid anxiety and depression from the horrible confusion from high IQ and ADHD) I was crying during what I believed to be simple diagnostic cognition and memory testing. I answered almost NONE of the math questions -because I can’t. I’m marginal at simple addition, under stress? -forget it…

    They diagnosed my ADHD, and had measured my full scale IQ at 146, even with a sub-score of 50% in the math.

    Don’t let fear of judgment keep you from yourself one minute longer. Too much time has passed as is…


  6. Hi Guys

    I have been stuck in my mind for most of my life, and after reading some of your comments, I finally feel a little sense of relief about my situation. I am sitting here at 1:30 in the morning, worried about the 25 page paper I have due in 4 days, but I cannot find the excitement to do something about it until a day or two before. I am almost 30 and just finishing my Bachelors over the summer. It has taken me nearly 10 years of interruption, but I can say that it is looking better for me now. I was a horrible student growing up. My mother hung my C’s on the fridge because they were so used to d’s and Fs. I was expelled from school my senior year, I was constantly late, I sat in the back of the class all the time, I hated authority, and I had averaged GPA of a 1.2. I got up constantly, switched positions in my desk, took walks to the latrine and was deathly afraid of being called on because I never had any idea of what the class was doing. I was always some place else. I had the giggles constantly. It was not until recently that I began to try and figure this out. I don’t think many people understand what it is like to be locked inside your brain so tightly that every issue, problem, concept, idea, etc… feels like one big run on sentence. Nothing ever has an ending. One problem brings another problem or question in my mind- it is freaking endless. It kills me on test. I sit there fore literally hours finding every word either contradicting or related to something else. I will think I know the material back and forth- then I get to the question and I ask the question back “What does he mean by this…This, that or this? Why isn’t he more clear damn it! This could be 3 things!!” I turn A, B, C, D options into E, F, G, H and so on. There is no such thing as black and white- everything is grey. I suppose that is why Math and I do not get along. The only kind of Math I get along well in is statistics, because I can see everything right there, and it seems so much more relevant (yes, I know all math is relevant, but for me Stats is more meaningful.) I guess what I mean is that I find a relationship to everything in my mind, and it can drive me and others around me crazy. I say things and people say “Where did that come from?” or “We are not there yet.” I was diagnosed with ADHD about 5 years ago and began medication then. I think it helped greatly, (I now have a 4.0) but I feel like some parts of my hyperactivity are getting worse. My memory has become terrible. I had to get neuro test recently because I thought something else was going on. I am skipping beginnings of words when I write ( I was told my hand is not keeping up with what my brain is putting out), I map things out and problem solve completely differently than my peers, and I prefer to teach my self things than attend lectures. I cannot handle the least bit of distraction, because the slightest thing (a candy wrapper, pencil taps, radiators, light conversations around me) feels like a damn marching band is in the room. When I was tested, I was given hours of test, of which I broke down in tears due to the math distraction part. Not only was it mortifying because I am not a big crier, but it made me realize that even at almost 30 years old, I still struggle with things that haunted me as a child. I had to explain this to the test taker who looked at me as if I was disturbed. I have never been tested in a full IQ test. I was always scared I was stupid, so I never cared to take one, plus I despise the pressure of tests. Anyway, I don’t know what to do, because I am still trying to find my way, and I find myself constantly BORED TO TEARS. I do not know about being MENSA smart, or having an IQ of this or that- to be honest, I hate labels and pieces of paper that try to describe humans in numbers or acronyms. I just want to figure out the best way for me to keep working, keep at least a little organized, and to not think so deeply that people think Im not listening or that I am an idiot or just plain “out there”. I want to be efficient with my ideas and I want to remember all of them. It is so lonely to be like this.

  7. J Cook (Again)

    Since I was diagnosed with ADD (it’s actually not ADHD as I believe I said in my first post) and started on medication, I have done some in-depth studies, research, and I have found some extremely positive things about some of us high IQ ADD’ers. We seem to be a special group. There is a bit of a scientific study I wandered into. I promised not to divulge it yet–and maybe never as I suffered a huge crash wiping out all my notes and I can’t recall where it was and I can’t find it or the phone number I wrote down. They think I am a writer doing book research where I want factual information. They would not have provided me so much time if I had been another joe blow. I actually did put a large part of it in a book I am writing so I didn’t fib–well, not too much.

    A group of scientists and psychologists have been studying the high IQ ADD or as I will say from now on, the HIADD’s and some interesting things are emerging. It seems we are uniquely similar. Or at least the group they are testing has been unusually similar, and my stats fit there as well.

    Of the ones that are definitely high IQ, the tested IQ seem to range between 138 and 152, (I don’t recall the particular test used) and over 90 % admit they would rather not do the math part. If they do take the math test the scores are barely passing.

    Secondly (or is this thirdly… who gives a shit) each of them, and myself, have no concern for anything competitive. We all have a high level of self confidence and are likely to take on something new because we feel it would work, not because it has been done that way before and there is a very high level of success in a short time (86% if my memory is accurate and I think it is) when any HIADDer takes on a project. The problem being that it is always one of perhaps 10 or more projects, and that once worked to the top–and then it is usually the ONLY project, and that persons mind day and night.

    Additionally, the HIADD sleep only when they want, not to the social tune of being in bed at 10pm and up at six or seven. I can relate to that as it is 4am now and that is more common for me to be up all night than not. I am 69 and still pull 24 hour shifts. Willingly too. How about you?

    Of these new things the HIADD’s take on, they seem to be extremely conceptual, yet highly realistic. The scientists seemed to feel we have a gift for reality, preferring reality over the usual emotional issues others base their ideals on. We seem to place faith in what we know is accurate, without any need to cement our own abilities down by proving ourselves or being defensive. We don’t rationalize, we accept things that fail, learning from them easily, then we take another step up the ladder, or we just fix what failed and continue. We seem not to be concerned with what others think of us, but more what we think of ourselves.

    One HIADD put it down very well. He said I studied psychology. When I did, I found that those in psychology decided on that career because they felt there was something wrong with themselves, and they wanted to find out what it was. Then he said, “I studied psychology because I thought there was something wrong with everyone else. They worked in emotions, not reality, and I didn’t fit. I wanted to know why they were so screwy”.

    So far, all of that is myself as well. You?

    The other three unique measures the HIADD’s possessed really showed how this HIADD group is special (as far as this group studying them has discovered) They all seem to have little interest in money. Yet they always seem to have enough even though they switch jobs frequently, do what they want, and have no college degrees to speak of. Some do not have a high school degree. I fit that having quit two weeks before graduation. I had no interest in the graduation crap. It was just a dress up party and a bit idiotic as far as I was concerned. They were going to celebrate “A high school education” of all things. The school failed me even though I had passed all my courses. I didn’t care.

    I got in 9 years of college after that; two years actual at about 15 units a sem. Too slow. I began auditing at 25 to 35 units and that made it for me. I even went to two years of law school in Utah that way. No one seemed to care if I sat in and when they did I invented reasons to make it seem reasonable. I loved that time. I’m putting this in so those who find school slow, can know of the audit process. You simply ask professors if you may sit in. They think you are a signed up student, checking on their class for next semester. College and Law School was free! No degrees, but I’m a businessman, so I don’t care. I have no desire to display a bragging wall, and usually throw out the awards I get. My wife attends the ceremonies the cities give me. I have no interest in it.

    HIADD’s seem to have a unique ability to solve problems. Any problem, at any level, pertaining to any subject except those requiring specialized knowledge we don’t have. Stuff like theoretical quantum mechanics and the like. Who cares anyway, unless we get into it for fun. It’s too confining and takes too long in one subject. I get bored.

    Finally, we are honest. Not honest in that we never lie, because everyone does, but that we can be absolutely honest with what we did or did not accomplish and look at the results dispassionately, seeking only a better solution, not an emotional place where we could bask in admiration or show off our skills. We seem to be unconcerned with admiration.

    Sure, like all humans, we like friends, but we can’t get along with the “normals” well. They are too different from us. One fellow said the ones he studied, marked the question “What do you feel speaking with normal people is most like”. One answer was “I feel like I am talking to Chimpanzees” and it got the largesr percentage of the marks. Do any of you feel like that? I do. I just attempted to have a conversation with a contractor fixing my house on a government grant. He wanted to do some things differently, I didn’t want it done that way. I spoke in terms of reality. He was emotional and his edge on this was finishing quickly so he could get paid early. I bet he doesn’t know that picked up on that. I denied him that, he crabbed, tried to be the boss in my house. I fired him. He didn’t think I could, but contract law is contract law, and now he has not been paid.

    The final thing the scientists noticed was that there was a unique ability every HIADD seemed to have. They all felt they could be put in a new job, and if left alone and not bothered other than to have some questions answered to get started, and get some assistance to carry out the simple, boring stuff, that they could easily accomplish almost any job, as in master it very quickly, and do easily what others could not even conceive of. One unique difference was reality. They all noted that they felt that reality was their key to this.

    We seem to do the job in terms of reality, and that is the goal, not the accolades we get. You too?

    He related the HIADD’s to mutants that were in a recent movie. We seem to be the perfect people for government work. We would do the job accurately, in a manner that would satisfy the ideals well, yet perhaps in a different manner. We could be effective, without need for huge sums of money, power, or admiration.

    One scientist I spoke with said there was definitely a possibility that this is where we best fit, and although we are not mutants, the discovery of our unique abilities, confidence, intelligence levels, and the manner in which we utilize and relate to reality does make us interesting, and like a newly discovered mutant that would be a valuable asset in world government. It would certainly stop the problems associated with the emotional biases, the power struggle, the need to be seen, and all that stuff . . . that we see in power now.

    May I ask two questions to see how the HIADD answer it?

    Are you in favor of drug legalization in America? What do you think would happen if the government immediately made ALL drugs legal in America.

    I am not asking this because of any preference for or against drugs, and in fact the question doesn’t really concern drugs at all. I ask the question only in that I would like to see how this interesting and highly controversial subject is approached by the High IQ ADD/ADHD people who stumble across it.

    Perhaps it will shed some personal lights on what that study group found and how accurate it may be.

    J Cook

  8. J Cook (Again)


    Write me. I think I have some answers that may help you. I too was in that fog that is confusing you. I know some things that may help you feel much better.

    J Cook

  9. J cook,

    I think that legalizing drugs in america could have many affects. some good. some bad. on one hand the stigma of drug use would be lifted off of many peoples shoulders and would allow them to casually use drugs and still function and contribute to society more efficiently. On the other hand I do believe that many drugs are illegal for good reason (mostly because of addicting qualities) and allowing people to try them could leave mean addicted and that causes more problems due to financial and emotional distress.

    as far as everything you stated about HIADD I am a firm believer in it and feel like I am a perfect match to everything you had listed about it except one thing in particular and that was about seeing others as chimpanzees. To me, I do feel different and in many ways, more gifted, but I feel like every single person is interesting to me and I think that every single person knows more about, at least one, particular subject than I do therefore I can learn something from every person I meet.

  10. Like your idea of auditing classes, I have found myself sooo many times sitting at my computer watching lectures from many different universities online. I have learned so much in this way and I, like you, don’t feel it is necessary for me to get a degree. to me it is the knowledge that I value, its too bad society can’t come up with a way to evaluate my knowledge and intelligence without me handing them a piece of paper saying I learned this stuff. which in most cases those students hardly learned anything as they we just memorizing what they needed to know instead of learning what these things could tell them about the greater whole of the world and find a way to relate it to other things they have learned.

    I have always found myself to do great on tests and I believe its because of the way I learn as opposed to simply memorizing material. I go into a test confident, and never let emotions hinder my ability, (not in anything I do in fact). If for some reason I do do poor on a test I never get down about it. I learn the material and do better the next time. I have gone to college, learned lots, and go from job to job as you said is typical for guys and gals like us. I started my own business last summer at the age of 19 and made pretty good money, enough to pay for some more college at least, this summer I found a sales job based on commision. I have found it to be a great fit, I work when I want to, I only get paid if I work, and the better I am at my job the more I get paid, and ive never found myself to be average at anything in which I put forth enough energy and time. My creativity and problem-solving always seem to excel me further and further up the ladder very quickly. But by the time I’m at the top I’m looking for my next outlet and trying to expand other facits of my life. I find myself to be very personable and empathetic which allow me to relate to almost anyone I meet. Thats why for me I don’t completely agree with me not getting along with “normal people” I usually can get along with anybody because I find ways I am similar to so many people. Yes, I do believe that most of the time I am completely different to the person I am trying to relate to, but I focus on what ever it is that makes us similar. The things that make us different are usually unimportant and unnecessary for discussion. Because I relate to so many people I often find myself being able to argue both sides to any argument and often switching my own opinions back and forth very easily when presented with new, relevant, information. anyone else like that? anyways, I feel like I’ve blabbered, rambled, and followed this stream of thought long enough.

    Eric Brian Wentworth

  11. John Marion Cook

    To Eric.

    Thanks for the comment on drug legalization in America. You were very candid without the usual need to justify what you said. Excellent, and very much what I hoped to see. I appreciate your reply.

    Eric, could you email me privately? My address is in the replies above. I am hoping to do something and I would appreciate your candid thoughts on it. It is an attempt to assist a group; the elderly and disabled in America who are forced to endure a lower than poverty income in country the world considers one of the most wealthy.

    Given the excessively wasteful spending of the American government, this country could easily do more to assist those citizens who, through no fault of their own, cannot help themselves. A group that is currently forced to live under some of the most stressful conditions the world has to offer. We think they do well, especially considering the state of others in poor countries. What we forget is those in the ‘poor countries’ have always lived that way. By comparison, the poor in Iraq or Iran are actually little different than their middle class. Here, where the country is, by comparison to Iran, extremely wealthy, the disabled and elderly on a fixed social security or disability income are truly different. Most cannot repair anything that breaks and are consistently in stress over money. They commonly go without necessary medical attention or are forced to endure second class medical assistance. There are even doctors and nurses who consider these people a burden on society, forgetting they are humans!

    Yet consider that these are likely the people who were the builders of this wealthy country and those who sacrificed a limb or their health to assist us all in making America a wealthy country. Now they are forced to endure a lower than poverty income and are kept in this position by the ‘poverty police’ or the Social Security Administration who enforces ancient legislation designed to keep the disabled or the elderly from earning more money under threat of canceling their only, and very meager income should they show any earning potential.

    These twelve to fifteen million low income people represent a hidden society that the wealthy hierarchy of American government does not want exhibited. They want it to remain a hidden secret so other countries do not learn of how we treat them. Additionally the government does not wish to have the burden of determining a method of assisting these people. It is an unpopular agenda and it bears the burden of association to any official who attempts to assist them.

    How, for example, can the American Government find a way to bring additional assistance to a group of people that many Americans already (and secretly) feel are not worthy of the little money they are provided. Although it is not a spoken message, many Americans feel that most of the the disabled are just lazy people faking it so they can get free money and they won’t have to work. They also feel that the Americans who did not work hard enough to put away a retirement income do not deserve money. They are getting what they deserve–the tale of the grasshopper and the ant certainly was no help, and many still cannot see the difference between insects and humans. These complaining Americans are feeling the need for greed that has been well instilled by the wealthy corporations. They are jealous and think that money should be for themselves–especially since they are working to support the bums on welfare, which is a completely different program than from Social Security and Disability.

    Yes, I know I have not taken the time to show that I realize not all Americans feel this, and there are many variables within this, but regardless, this large group of Americans needs an intelligent leader to assist their cause. Although I am not necessarily hoping to attain any position in this, if needed I am willing to assume the role of spokesman–at least until a proper spokesman can be retained. I am not the spokesman type. I speak in terms of reality–not something many wish to face–yet reality is what determines our future based on our present day methods.

    I have done much in the way of research in this and I think a good beginning would be a web page designed to bring this group together and tell them that some intelligent Americans realize their predicament and are willing to assist them in bringing actual knowledge to America and provide the American government with the necessary numbers, research, and case studies to realize the extent of this problem as well as outline some potential solutions that would fit everyone.

    I need some feedback on this issue. If you or others have any thoughts, would like to assist, can do advanced web and database programming, and have the time to volunteer–as I am–I would appreciate hearing from you. I am a Photoshop artist (although not an advanced one, I do decent looking stuff) and I will be providing my time to do the visuals.

    Please let me know if you can help. If you know any elderly on Social Security or people on a Disability income that might be willing to assist and can offer the necessary skills, please pass my email address onto them.

    Thanks so very much,

    John Marion Cook

  12. Scanned/read letters and comments. I am also MENSAN. Retired Navy, did poorly in school But Military for me provided focus. Late wife also Mensa member and was helping her with degree learned more tnan I thought. Keep up the work and count me in. V/R don

  13. Folks,

    I can relate to a lot of this in one fashion or another right down to starting a summer business when I was 19.

    I’m not sure if I belong on here as I don’t know what my IQ is? The lone worldly and wealthy industrialist in our village was a neighbor and HS friend of my mothers and he once said I had “real brainpower.” I had one or two of the “although his grades don’t reflect it” notes on the report card to back up the previous lofty claim. I was bored in school but made it through on schedule. I have a lot of dyslexia in my family however I have no idea if there is any relationship to ADD?

    I’m not sure how I finished college, maybe peer pressure? Somedays I’d like to see if anyone ever finished at that school with a lower GPA?

    Speaking of which, I hated math in school but learned in college that I did in fact have an aptitude for it. I can visualize calculus. Having not been able to focus on geometry in middle school though, it took multiple attempts and a tutor to get through 10 hours of it.

    The deal broke down with math in middle school when they switched my teachers. I had my baseball coach for 8th grade math for a month. I paid attention to him as well as I could for that reason and that reason only. I don’t mean to blame “the system” and I realize it was likely for the greater good however that event did have some impact.

    I passed intermediate calculus at a Big 10 school without knowing any geometry. I can do straight math pretty well in my head and folks have commented on that over the years. I probably do have my own way of breaking it down? As for multiplication my dyslexic Dad sat me down one May night a little over 40 years ago and made me learn a year of multiplication that night for the next days test.

    The only person I ever worked with that was a better proof reader than me was a Yale grad. With that said, I caught my usual obscure mistakes in a doc just yesterday without noticing that the title had been changed. I win some and I lose some but in my head it’ seldom about the win or what I do well.


    Thank you for putting such eloquent wording around this. I am 50 and I’ve known I’ve been ADD for 10 years or so but I’ve lived a lot of what you were talking about. This was really a big help!

    I am envious and happy for you that you’re getting a handle on it early in life. I would definitely encourage you to keep writing. You have a way with words when it comes to this topic!


    I would vote for total drug legalization. My rationale? It would provide Tax revenue and jobs while curtailing the revenue streams of criminal enterprises.


    I’m a very insecure person so some of what you say is foreign to me. I have done a variety of related IT and IT vendor jobs that vary widely from one to another, go figure. If I’m fired up about the right opportunity I’m a star, from the get go. That doesn’t happen much though. I also was fired once. I would have lasted longer on that job with a GPS. I once flew to a job and had the reference manual shipped to the hotel the day before arrival. I was scared to death, however, the client never knew that (or that they were my first deployment on that system). This client and I have a good relationship two years later. I can play in that world however I just don’t like it. I’m not sure if that is my authentic self or if the unmitigated issues are casting a haze over this? Back to the trapped in your mind thing.

    Folks, thank you for your insight. If I get a handle on this thing I will mark this moment! Right now I wonder? I’ve got some other issue to sort out and I can’t seem to get it together to get diagnosed. I’ve been to a Dr. twice and left with the questionaires. One got filled out by my ex- years ago, one is sitting in a pile somewhere.

    Ok, rambling pointlessly now, thanks folks, Godspeed!

  14. I have always had a hard time with school ,much like the post from Antoinette,in my 3rd and 4 th grage math i could get the right answer but i did it different than instructed,the teachers could understand how the hell i would get the right answer even in 9th grade math which my priciple had to teach me in his office for me to pass, i became so totally shut down because no one understood me and would fail me even if i got the right answer,i didnt do it the way i was got so bad the high school principle was trying to get me declared mentally incompetant and kick me out of school.went to 3 shrinks ,the school shrink quit because they didnt believe my test results, on all three independant tests i scored a 174 175 and 176 on my iq tests. i dindt realize what that meant untill some 30 years later,no one told me, my school shrink told me as he was packing and quiting,dont worry its not you ,you have a very high IQ and they are idiots. I was like huh? what the hell does that mean? i didnt understand why i didnt get along with most academia people for along time. Antoinette your right most teachers are idiots! as well as the way we teach our children.

  15. I’m 34 and only now, for the first time in my adult life, am trying to get on the right track (meaning a path that will lead to a level of success that allows me to have the freedom to be me without being punished for my talents.) I had high aptitude all through grade school (was the biggest “geek” the entire time.) A competent and efficient Internist recently diagnosed me as having ADD. He also suggested that the high aptitude was exactly the reason I was not diagnosed earlier, that my “Visual/Spacial” learning (I know this is not a formal term) is why I have had continued issues attempting to stick with a higher education, since they essentially have a system of teaching that isn’t conducive to my natural ability to absorb knowledge or problem solve. If I get bored with step by step process, without having been told the application and the end result or bigger picture/goal, A-B-C means nothing to me except another reason to think about other things while everyone else is going at their own speed. I related to nearly everything people said in this forum. I cannot be content with just one project, one task (unless I’m currently obsessed with it), one job, one definition for solving problems, or one social standard for what I should consider to be fulfilling. I think I currently feel no need to conform to the social pressures to adhere to their accepted/expected level of normalcy because I was never shown at an early age the benefits of doing so… only the punishments for not doing so.

    I am desperately seeking some guidance as to how to go about making some forward motion with my life. I like me for me. I have no problems with that aspect. My biggest issue is my lack of resources. I would be content to work a job that I am bored with, as long as it made me enough money to afford me the free time I need to study, independently, what I choose (school means nothing to me except for the need of a piece of paper saying I can be relied upon to follow rules, enough to get hired, since I can read a book and absorb the knowledge better on my own.) The other side of that would be me choosing a career that keeps me stimulated and fulfilled enough that I don’t mind working at it more of the time. I don’t know where to begin. I know I should be smart enough to navigate my own way through a system set up for “normal” individuals, using my exceptional abilities. However, after years of jumping from job to job, several attempts at college, multiple experiences where my extreme work ethic and efficiency have been exploited, unappreciated and resented, and years of self-sabotage, I really want to make some progress that I can feel. I have no one else in my life that inspires/guides/supports me in a manner that effectively assists me in making progress, and I’ve recently learned that I’m not an island. Of course my parents have always wanted me to do better for myself. Their answers to my problems are repetitive and simple, and have not been effective. Again, college has not worked out as of yet. Perhaps it’s because I never had an end goal in mind? I have pondered for months what it is that I’d like to do for a living, that’s worth it to me to put forth that sort of patience and time in order to gain the certification. At this age, I think I’m not only stuck due to my apprehension at spending 6+ years in a system of learning that is basically slow water torture, but also now I’m in the group of adults who cannot stop working in order to put the time towards education, because even if you get a scholarship, it only pays for school and not the money you miss from spending that time in the school rather than at work. I work 7 days a week right now.

    I looked at this site because I was doing a search for resources for “Gifted adults w/ ADD” and MENSA always pops up. The last time I took an IQ test, I was in first grade. I’ve no idea what it is. I know I have the same issues that everyone else in my boat would have… mathematics when not used everyday are lost, as a language that’s not spoken on a regular basis. As a child, I was able to ace tests because even though I had my own ideas about the answers, I knew what the badly worded questions implied the tester wanted to have as an answer. As an adult, I find that I’m more literal than I ever was then, and much less flexible, and I often miss the obvious implications of simply worded questions because I get caught up on the minutia. Perhaps I can do well on lateral thinking tests, or deductive reasoning, or even critical thinking, but traditional IQ tests include the average stuff as well. What do I do? I cannot answer, in one word, what type of animal I would be, if I were an animal. I am already an animal… duh. And “me”, or “human” are not on the multiple choice lists.

    I think I need to wrap it up here. I do tend to ramble on. The internist put me on Adderall, and a mood stabilizer. I went from feeling jaded and bitter about the differences between myself and those who surround me to feeling awkward and desperate to make progress. I think my adaptive skills that were gained during my young adult life were, in part, my ability to compartmentalize or marginalize my emotional reactions to the unwillingness of others to accept or inspire me. Essentially, I had given up on humanity accepting me, and resigned to be alone. Now that I feel the need to push forward, I am perpetually frustrated by my current lifestyle (meaning the jobs that surround me with the people I can’t relate to, the struggle for money, resources, and respect (which hardly ever occurs) that I have to gain by kissing the butts of more people like that, and again, the lack of direction or assistance in getting some structure that I can feel comfortable with.

    I most notably appreciated the lengthy response by “J Cook.” I would really appreciate ANY response from anyone here who has some direction to give me. I really have tried to research and find it on my own, and keep feeling like I’m hitting a wall for some reason. Throw me a rope or drop a ladder please!

  16. I am just about to turn 39 years old. I was placed in the ‘gifted’ program in elementary school just before entering the 2nd grade. My teachers always told my parents that I was an ‘underachiever’ and ‘not working up to her potential’. School wasn’t interesting to me, English and Reading were my strongest subjects, got A’s with no problems, but science and math were my weak ones. Basic math was really difficult for me, but when I entered high school I soared through Algebra/Geometry, Trigonometry and stopped after Pre-Calculus with A’s because I had no interest in math. I was talented in art and music and played piano concerto’s after 2 years of private instruction, but stopped when I entered junior high because it was more important for me to be a social butterfly. I hated studying, but managed a 3.2 when I graduated in all honors classes. Really wanted to be a physician but the thought of 8 more years of school seemed ridiculous to me so I opted for a 4 year bachelors degree in Nursing. I enjoyed it, so I graduated on the Deans List. But I really never studied unless it was the night before an exam. I still love it after 17 years, and have often been told that I’m wasting my knowledge being a bedside nurse. I have only worked in high stress areas (trauma units, open heart recovery, intensive care) but get bored after about 3 years and jump to a different high intensity department. I love taking care of patients and figuring out what’s wrong with them..,. but have no motivation to obtain a graduate degree…mostly because it involves going back to school. So why am I bothering to post here?

    My 7 year-old daughter was diagnosed with mixed ADHD this summer. She was very bright as a toddler and could read by the time she turned four. Never had behavioral problems, had an excellent memory and recall…could even spell her name verbally when she was just 2 years-old. She only scored a 110 on a weschler IQ test during her ADHD evaluation, but she is consistently placed in the accelerated class with the gifted children, and prior to being started on medication, tested two years above grade level in math and three years above in reading. Her hyperactivity and inability to concentrate on long exams put her at the bottom of her acclerated class last semester. When I finally gave in and started her on Concerta, she is now scoring almost 100% on every exam and is at the top of her class.

    When I read the psychologist’s report regarding her ADHD diagnosis, he actually stated that although I denied having the disorder, my constant fidgeting during interviews, interrupting conversations and excessive chatting warranted testing for myself, as this is often passed on through genetics. I was immediately insulted and irritated at this suggestion, but then started doing research and self-analysis, and am now going through evaluations with a psychologist to see if I also have it.

    My question is, can ADHD render an inaccurate assessment of IQ, being that the testing involved is often timed…more points are given to faster responses…etc? My child feels left out because she is one of 8/18 who are not in the ‘gifted’ program in her class. Her teacher read the psychologist report with the 110 score, and doesn’t think that re-testing would be significant. Any thoughts? Also, if it is true that I do indeed have ADHD, how did I score so high as a child? Could it have been mild, and my child is more severe (she is definitely more hyperactive than I was…at least from my parent’s recollection)….I appreciate any feedback 🙂

  17. I think the answer is simple. If a re-test isn’t going to have any negative results on anyone’s self-confidence, then what can it hurt? However, if it is intrinsically linked to feeling smarter or less so, then take what you’ve got and let it go. You know your child is intelligent, as you know you are intelligent. Intelligent people know they are so because they can look around and see the differences between themselves and others. (Doesn’t make you better, just different, so that’s not a judgement.) You know the school systems in this country are not set up to handle or educate the vast majority of anyone who shows exceptional abilities. Spend the extra energy and concern getting involved into extra-curricular activities that successfully stimulate the added need for speed and input.

    Incidentally, as many people have mentioned, IQ tests are garbage (mostly). All they prove is that the person is good at taking that particular IQ test. That’s scientific reasoning. Even the so called “gifted” tests are erratic at best. I was labelled as gifted in 1st grade because my mother and father were willing to go to bat for me when they saw how I did not fit in with my peers, but I was also lucky enough to have 2 parents who were both of high aptitude, and willing to spend the extra time to learn who I was, rather than just throw me into the system, let them hash it out, and also never question a doctor’s diagnosis. My father is an undiagnosed Aspergers with genius level “IQ”, my mother (and her side of the family) appear to have ADD/ADHD, but WE are all so high functioning, that as soon as we get labelled as Gifted, the dismiss everything else as eccentricity. I’m 34, and got diagnosed as ADD about 8 months ago. The doctor had been looking at me for health issues that were COMPLETELY unrelated. I lucked out again. Now I take medication, which was a huge transition for me (leading me to join this group in a hunt for advise!) There is little difference between “Gifted”, “High Aptitude/Aspergers”, and “ADD/ADHD” without looking at the brain while it’s working on certain tasks. And, of course, you can also have co-morbid diagnoses as well. My answer is: WHATEVER WORKS! It’s true enough that a good IQ test score can get you things in the future in things like college that may be beneficial. But, as most of the people on this board have found, where there is a will, there is a way, and when you’ve got the energy, all you need is the direction.

    My dad is a Physicist and a Chemist (dual doctorates), and my mother, although she has no extensive college degrees, has had intense and important input and work relating to politics, healthcare, helping those in need, and nearly anything else that she decides is her passion at the moment. I was fortunate enough to have been in a “good” school at a time before “no child left behind”, and had access to an extremely successful gifted program. We got the freedom to choose our own curriculum as well. If it had not been for that little extra acknowledgement from not only my parents, but the teachers and some of my peers, I would have been lost, permanently. I scored high enough on the IQ test early on to qualify, but if my mother had not pushed to have me tested, they weren’t going to voluntarily give it to me. And as I mentioned, the different tests for IQ, gifted, ADD, etc. are all different, and only really indicate what kind of test you are good at taking. As I have aged, I’ve become less talented at taking tests. I think the older I’ve become, the more I’ve got going on in my head, and the less I focus on being able to answer ambiguous questions without over-analyzing them in a literal fashion. My immediate response to what I perceive as a poorly worded question slows me down drastically, as I sit in my head stuck, wondering why they didn’t include enough information to adequately answer the multiple choice question. LOL! “What kind of animal would you be, if you were an animal?” “… technically, I am an animal, right? Do they mean mammal or reptile? Is it a rhetorical question?” I digress. What I am saying is, the journey to self-awareness is riddled with rocks of every size. Some you need to climb over, and some you can just walk around. Just don’t feel badly if the some of the one’s you want to climb roll around too much to get a good grip on. Use your instincts to tell you what you may already know, and not a test often created or issued by people who don’t really know what they are seeing. AND, if you really want to get a good IQ score on a traditional IQ test, the best way to do it is go to the book store, get an SAT prep workbook. MEMORIZE IT. Walk in there and ace that bad boy, walk out knowing you did so, and wait until the glowing letter with your power number comes in the mail. (Sorry for the sarcasm! I’ve already dealt with this part of my self-acceptance, and am currently trying to find grants and such to get back into school myself. FAFSA turned me down, because I worked 7 days a week at 2 jobs for the last year, because I’m poor. That put me in a different tax bracket. So I am penalized for having work-ethic and for trying to help myself before asking for it. If I had not burnt out just outside of high school, as so many of us do, I would have probably not ever been in this situation. However, I would also not be nearly as well adjusted as I am now… Balance is not something that comes naturally for me/us.) 😉

  18. ray robinson

    wow im not alone
    how many of u enjoy problem solving to the point u have to find problems?
    education was stright a,s till i turned 13 then i couldnt focus or get interested .
    paperwork i cant do for love nor money i pick it up and my mind goes wandering

  19. I was not diagnosed with ADHD until I was 40. As a kid I was told I had hyperactivity and was put on a restricted caloric intake so I didn’t bother the normal folks. Think starved kid with bones showing so the teachers could be happy. I was on the gifted student track since I was very young. I got the ADHD diagnosis when my brilliant daughter was failing school. She tested positive and with a little Adderall went from C’s and F’s to straight A’s in the honors classes. Both of us had all the classic gifted ADHD symptoms. We maxed the tests, but would not do homework or turn in assignments; we knew the answers and the repitition seemed stupid. Besides, we could not bother to remember to bring our assignments in even if we completed them.

    Back in High School I tested at (lowest) 148 to (highest) 162 on IQ tests. I scored well on the SAT in the top 1% college bound and joined MENSA at 16 in 1981. In college I excelled when courses interested me. It didn’t matter if it was Organic Chemistry or Honors English as long as it was interesting. If it bored me I dropped it. When I graduated the Dean offered me a recommendation to med school, but I could not see focusing on studying for six more years. I knew I needed a more active career.

    I sought stimulation rather than money. Army Chemical Corps, Cobal Programming and then Police work. I hit the wall at Police Supervision when the paperwork became overwhelming; inability to make myself sit down and do paperwork made advancement to Captain difficult.

    Police work is not boring and I have found that about 4 out of 10 of the people I work with will admit privately to having ADD or ADHD. The job attracts us as it is not the same day to day.

    I have read several posts on other sites by people with ADHD and high IQ who seem to feel a lot of angst about not reaching their full potential. Yes, I might have been more and done more if I lived up to someone else’s expectations. Really, you have no one else to satisfy with your life’s work other than yourself. I might not have made the most of my “brain” and pursued med school, however, I have lived a full and exciting life.

    Folks with the “H” in ADHD seek stimulation. I have done some great things, some wild things, pushed boundaries, taken some stupid risks, met some really good people and some witnessed people, myself included, be truly horrible. Police work can be rough over a 30 year career.

    For those of you out there overthinking life, I want to advise you to just relax. Find something that interests you and to hell with what others think. I’m a supposedly over qualified Police Sergeant and Detective; I love it! But I’ve had a great and fulfilling career. My side interests are astrophysics and epidemiology; the rest of the cops have no clue!

    No one could tell me to relax and just live my life (yes I know those of us with ADHD aren’t real good at the relax part) but it is still good advice from an old guy at the end of a satisfying career.

    Finally, do that crazy thing you have been putting off. Be kind, but run wide open, live while you can and regret nothing! (Now that is a pure ADHD sentiment.)

    Best wishes and forgive yourself the next time you interupt one of our slower minded brothers and sisters.


  20. Hi Roger, 4 out of 10 of your police colleagues admit to you privately they have ADHD eh? I’d believe it. We adders are allergic to boredom and other than the paperwork, police work has some built in anti boredom structures built into it. You never know what you’ll deal with on any given day and even the routine calls can easily go non routine very quickly.

    Check out the Thom Hartmann hunter farmer theory.

    I’ve coached police officers. Lots of competitive advantages to having ADHD as a police officer. Because you’re basically a hunter, not a farmer.

    See my post on advantages of ADHD in high tech career, a lot of those advantages are applicable to other careers too

    Many ADHD people can do well at their job until they’re promoted into management and then they have to not only organize themselves but others and have bigger paperwork burdens which is kryptonite for us, and we get less stimulating work which helps boosts dopamine.

    Some can learn to manage or restructure their work environment but paramilitary forces not always so open to change as other workforces.

    Also 21-45% of prisoners have ADHD 15 peer reviewed studies show

    So if you have ADHD you potentially have a competitive edge of understanding others with ADHD & ODD too

    Better to be over qualified and happy, then qualified and miserable but conforming to others expectations and desires vs your own.

  21. I have been diagnosed with an extremely high iq in grade 3. (135+) . My whole life i was very quick with work and only failed with penmanship, organization, time management and focus. I thought i was just childish or didnt care. Everyone else including teachers and parents thought i was just a troubled child. I had about 10 suspensions before highschool and 4 arrests before i was 18. Now i am well into my 18s and have completely changed with much more self aware behaviour control. I am very good socially and have no problem learning and especially enjoy it now. I have medium severity adhd but i never chose to do medication so i have learned to deal with it, i use the medication as a study tool very rarely, exams only. I found that having a job and going to school keeps me busy and calms my adhd alot, especially helped with my insomnia which was much rarer when i was younger so i used marijuana to get me to sleep as it took 2-5hrs a night without it. If anyone has questions about how i feel or have what i experienced in youth or school, just reply!

  22. 18 year old male, sophomore in college. I have a 163 IQ and ADHD, and I have to say, this article is extremely accurate in terms of the side effects of ADHD on learning. I never studied, never had to, so studying, time management, and procrastination are all focuses for me on what to either better or curb. My grades are absolutely atrocious, simply because I spent most of last year frittering my time away rather than focusing on classes, which I could have easily aced had I spent the time necessary. Now, academic probation and the Powers that Be are forcing me to reevaluate my priorities and focus more of my time on school and my future.

    I have commonly found myself cramming for a final or essay the night before, and knowing what I know now both about college and my condition, which has been unmedicated for the past two years of my own choice, I am working harder on finishing things early so I can sit back and know I have done what I need to do. This is honestly a struggle for me, but this article is so true and so relatable it’s uncanny.

  23. I’m one who has high IQ and adhd not digognosed I’m 55 just imagine what I could have been and being a good person with compassion that I am i know I could make a difference. How sad my life just passed me by and all I wanted was to have a chance but yet, I don’t know why, I still wish and strive to be normal and happy I should write a book you would be amazed what I’ve endured.

  24. I was just diagnosed with ADHD at age 36 and at the same time received an IQ score of 130. Both of these things surprised me very much. I starting seeking therapy for relationship problems with my spouse, but after I started thinking about it I had relationship problem with just about everyone. I have always found it very difficult to connect with people even though I’ve always considered myself an empathetic person. Additionally I’ve always had a very hard time making decisions, even the most trivial. My wife would complain when she went shopping for new clothes with me, because I would spend two hours trying on different pairs of the same style and size pants only to get frustrated and impulsively buy some other pair. Of course I was never happy with the final product.
    I feel ashamed and annoyed that I went so long without diagnosis. I feel like there was a lot of wasted potential over the last 20-30 years and I’ll never get that time back. I am now motivated to take full advantage of my gifts, but still lack direction at this point. I’m hoping I keep that motivation and I hope with treatment I can find a direction and focus on it.

  25. I am now 50 years old. Elementary school was fun, as I did not have to study at all. In high school I did well on subjects that got my attention, less on those that didn’t. I had problems at home at the time and I was being bullied, so I tended to withdraw in books etc.. Attention was really the key word. Once a teacher warned me that I could not pass unless my grades for math would improve substantially. The next test I got an A+ (99/100), mainly because I got scared. He told me that the pedagocical service of the school told him that I had an high IQ, but they did not understand why I was not systematically performing at that level. At university I had some problems during the first year, but I got obsessed about succeeding and I obtained my Masters Degree Summa Cum Laude. Now I have a PhD. Professionally I am doing ok. But my difficulties to focus on things that do not interest me, my direct and honest replies, irritability when people don’t follow my reasoning, still hold me back. After my son was diagnosed for ADHD, I got diagnosed for ADD. A high IQ offsets some of the challenges of ADD; However, coping with the challenges of ADD also absorbs a lot of energy and causes real difficulties in professional and other relationships..

  26. Mike Mitchell

    Sigh…. I am that person. It becomes almost unbearable to live in a world that was seemingly designed to keep you out.

    I live in a trailer and basically have started to isolate myself from everything, and at times I even hate myself for it. Living below my potential makes me irratible, irrational, aggitated, defensive, and constantly on edge. The fact that I’m always so misunderstood makes it so I barely desire human interaction, and can become very depressing on top of all the other emotions and stressors. When I hear the words “me too” coming from someone who obviously can’t relate it makes me cringe.

    I was that quiet kid with the restless shakey leg who seemed to be just there. I would sometime blurt out answeres, especially if it was something I caught on to quickly while everyone still struggled. I would answer algebra questions, but couldn’t show the work… they tend not to believe kids when they say they can do algebra in their head. I would pass almost every test, mostly by learning the subject from the test, lol, but always failed classes and was always in detention for not doing homework.

    I tried college after getting a GED. It was pretty much the same story, but with more fascinating subjects, concepts, ideas, and perspectives. I felt a lot more at home, and slightly less misunderstood, but not doing the homework meant more d’s and f’s until I was in academic expulsion. Sadly I did well in every other aspect of grade school and college, but have to feel like a failure…

    This society, maybe it’s all of them, but especially American society makes it so I can’t be myself.

    I could go on for days, but my focus is fading.

  27. That’s too bad Mike, if you’re in that situation consider reaching out for help. Whether it’s therapist (make sure they know ADHD or they can be useless to harmful) or an ADHD coach to learn the skills to manage ADHD more effectively so you have a better life.
    See my post Top 10 Ways to Manage Adult ADHD

    Or coaching vs therapy

    coaching doesn’t focus on depression or anxiety or problems of the past and maybe you need to heal that before you deal with the present. Here’s some problems adhd coaching can help people with

  28. Hello

    I stumbled across this site last night, whilst looking for answers. I found it calming and reassuring. I think that if Roger, the policeman, had been my slightly scary uncle with the cool job and wicked smile, I guess I might not have needed to be looking for those answers now, at 46.

    I have a familiar tale… supposedly bright, I didn’t just flounder in school, I drowned. Have you ever driven a motorbike into cold air, or just had freezing wind hit you right in the face, so you can’t breath, and you panic, just for a moment, before you turn or lower your head? It was a bit like that, all day every day: asphyxiating on terror. At least at school. I was apparently constantly being punished but I don’t really remember. If I look back there I just sense the blind panic of an imploding scream, populated by the odd happier anecdote, injustice and humiliation. I lost the ability to speak properly and gained some kind of twitch so, when I was 9 or 10, my parents finally moved me somewhere else, to a normal school. I no longer had two hours of homework per night, I didn’t have to translate English into Latin, they didn’t use corporal punishment and wow! It was a good as ADHD medication, it was better than lots of drugs actually. I had the headspace to make friends, have fun and breathe.

    My father was bright, he was useless at school but ended up with more degrees than anyone else I know, geology, botany, zoology, biology, if it related to the natural world and ended in a y, he had a degree in it. He had studied in night school, after work, as bombs fell on London. He had gorged himself on culture, loved opera and fine art. His passion was genealogy, at which he was beyond meticulous. He had built his own audio equipment, (for recording foxes at the end of his garden as a child) he kept strange pets and threw away nothing. He also never advanced in his career and thought almost everyone was an idiot, especially psychologists. He ended up having to work as a security guard, as an old man, to feed us. In retrospect, he was probably both exceptionally bright, and had a few mental quirks, just possibly ADHD among them. He was not an easy man to live with, and the family home was not always sunshine and smiles.

    My older brother is precociously bright. He was at the same school as me, the perfect academic. He excelled at everything. He didn’t stop excelling until he stopped studying. Now he does something very boring, which he hates and which takes all his time: keeping him away from his family, garden and bees.

    I found it all difficult. I can’t spell. I do mental arithmetic about as well as a puppy, (although I loved geometry) and I find it difficult to remember things (apart from Gary Powers… oddly). It is impossible for me to learn a second language. I am an idiot.

    Perversely, I turned it around a bit at school. Growing in confidence I almost attained my brother’s perfect record at 16, then, having proved myself, became distracted by real life and passed out of school on very unremarkable grades at 18. I studied philosophy at university, with some remarkable and inspiring professors. I thought, spoke and drank philosophy, mostly whilst playing cards. I even turned up to most of the uninteresting lectures. For one term I went to every one! I stared into the horizon that pierces the universe, where mathematics, language and logic are obliterated, transformed into an invisible harmony of exquisite silence. I was caught in the magnesium flame of my own attention…

    Unfortunately I left university with my certificate of brilliance (the bestimost grade) and decided to do something else… Hmm… It turns that identifying where a system is going wrong, and solving problems yourself, isn’t popular in a work environment. Apparently people are afraid of change and more comfortable doing things badly, inefficiently and shortsightedly. Also, who knew, but apparently most people hate talking about anything complicated, or abstract. It is a dessert out there (I told you I couldn’t spell). 15 years to become the head of a department, closer each step to the blindly gnashing, maw, forever feeding on well composted youth and putrefied dreams.

    I left my country, running from and too. I struggled to find my feet, got kicked down hard, struggled up: down again. Isolated myself. Got diagnosed. Needed answers for my child and for myself (and my poor wife). I need to protect him from the shit, and myself (yes to the ambiguity). I feel like I am going back. The easy way out has never been an option. But fuck this is a fucker of a hill to climb alone, especially when failure isn’t an option… and it isn’t really there…

    I know exactly what I should have been doing instead, but I preferred to do this. My uncle Roger says it’s OK and I like him, so I am not going to beat myself up. Heather shouldn’t either. Can I delete this once I do regret it?Thanks.

  29. Hi, I am 51 and have struggled all my life with relationships, school, jobs (been fired several times), authorities, accumulated debts, etc. But I have also done some craziest of things, succeeded with some great innovations, advised business leaders for big corporations on complex challenges, have a wonderful wife and kids.

    Mixed bag of experiences and have never been able to/want to fit in. Then I got a ultimatum from my wife that we would divorce if I don’t seek help (I realize know what she has gone through in the last 13 years) at the same time that I found out that my company is challenged by having me as an employee (I rock the boat and question too much for comfort).

    Anyway, to cut it short – I was diagnosed ADHD (combined form) and my psychiatrist says that I am gifted (the verbal function is disastrous but my perception spatial memory and cognitive speed and Ga are very high).

    Suddenly I find that there is a reason for why my life has been the way it has. And I feel as if there is hope. And then I found this group, and I would like to say thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences. I felt so normal after reading about them.

    Thank you!!!!

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