The Upside of ADHD, Enthusiasm, Empathy and High Energy

You don’t see headlines like these on regular basis.

“The Upside of ADHD Enthusiasm, Empathy, and High Energy Among Traits the Disorder Carries”

from’s health section

Usually, it’s just 98% negative coverage, although that is slowly changing as people gradually start to realize that in addition to the real problems of ADD, there are also real advantages to having ADD.

When I sold Macintosh computers I noticed that many of my clients seemed like they had ADD, they were often in the high tech or creative fields where ADD can be a real advantage, i.e., fast processing mind, able to multi-task effortlessly, creative, able to hyperfocus for hours IF it was interesting etc.

ADHD hasn’t changed, but how experts view the disorder is evolving in a new direction. Instead of only focusing on the difficulties posed by ADHD, today, the upsides are likely to be noted, too: the quick-wittedness, the speedy grasp of the big picture and the great enthusiasm for nearly everything.

People with ADHD “may instead be our most creative individuals, our most extraordinary thinkers, our most brilliant inventors and pioneers,” writes Hartmann in his 2003 book The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter ChildThe Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child.


He posits that the people with ADHD may carry genetically coded abilities that once were, and may still be, necessary for human survival and that contribute richness to the culture.

JetBlue Airways CEO and founder David Neeleman … credits ADHD with his creativity and “out-of-the-box thinking”—it led him to invent e-tickets while at Morris, for example.


“One of the weird things about the type of [ADHD] I have is, if you have something you are really, really passionate about, then you are really, really good about focusing on that thing.


It’s kind of bizarre that you can’t pay the bills and do mundane tasks, but you can do your hyper-focus area.

True. Hyperfocus is our ADHD superpower.

There are other people talking about the advantages of ADD like this article “More and more experts say ADHD can be a gift rather than a malady”

Here’s where someone else credit’s her creativity to ADD.

If you have ADD, what are your ADD advantages? If you need some ideas you can check out the 151 Advantages of ADD.

Or check out my ADHD strengths category on this blog.

12 thoughts on “The Upside of ADHD, Enthusiasm, Empathy and High Energy”

  1. I wish there were more articles like this out there. Why do you think everyone fixates on the negative in these situations?

  2. Probably because we’re a negative oriented society, that’s what most people are looking for and what you focus on expands.

  3. I, too, am an ADHD adult who can’t seem to “pay the bills”, as Mr. Neeleman said, but find that this disability has great advantages. I am more imaginative, creative and open-minded than most people I know that are not ADD/ADHD. Friends and family call me talented. I love crafts – some sewing, floral design, some jewelery making, interior design, etc. I am also quite good at building spreadsheets for hundreds of applications at work. I can be quite methodical about expressing myself on paper. So much so that sometimes when I read my own stuff months later, that I even impress myself! LOL While I wouldn’t want to be without my ADHD if it meant I had to give up my “talents”, I would still like to be able to more consistently pay my bills on time. 🙂

  4. “Why do you think everyone fixates on the negative in these situations?”

    In my opinion, that’s because it’s bad for the regimented lecture-hall style of educator business used in American schools.

    I have a son who is diagnosed-and-medicated ADHD, and another who is diagnosed-and-assisted ADD. Though I’ve not been diagnosed as such, I’ve been advised by a practitioner that I’m most likely ADD myself; the characteristics in the psychological profile done on me in my high school days (in the Sixties) match up pretty well with Pete’s “10 Positives” list.

    None of us do well in conventional classroom settings, where the teacher spews from a book and the students listen and then regurgitate into tests. Where our learning is confined to this assembly-line method, we drag their percentages down. When we try to learn at our own often-faster but always-asynchronous pace in such a setting, we cause distraction and disruption problems. When we give a creative answer to a rote question (which happens often while we’re learning the skill of balancing creativity and memorization), the instructor has to stop and think, and that throws them off their rehearsed delivery performance rhythm. When we give up trying and our attention wanders, it’s obvious.

    We’re visible faults in a flawed business method.

  5. Pete said: “well, there’s the magic of automatic bill payment so we can focus more of our time on the important stuff:)”

    I get by by pushing as much of the time-related stuff as possible off onto the computer. Then I can dismiss the issue until it’s time, so I can concentrate.

    In UNIX/Linux systems (Macintosh OSX is BSD UNIX underneath the GUI), there’s cron. Windows machines have a crude equivalent in System Agent. In both cases, this is a scheduler, and you can add stuff to that schedule, and the computer will do it at the time you’ve set. For more complex things than simple one-line commands, there are scripting languages; I use Perl, which is open-source and free for the download (and is probably already installed on your Linux system). It’s easy to learn enough Perl to get by for this; you don’t have to know the whole language to use it.

    In my house, the main computer turns on lights and plays wake-up noises in the morning; at night it turns off lights the kids have left on (with X-10 modules). I have it play WAV files to announce when to get kids out the door for school in the morning, and when to get up and fix dinner in the evening. It’s simple to set up a cron-driven reminder to pay a bill on a given day of the month. You can even use at on UNIX/Linux to play a WAV chime as a kind of kitchen timer to tell you when to pull stuff out of the oven.

    I get crowded or distracted and forget; the computer doesn’t. With a little setup, you can use that too.

  6. I think that adhd can definitely be a positive thing. as somebody who struggles everyday with time management problems, poor organizational skills, difficulty with school and work, and all the other issues that come with having a wildly disorganized mind, i am not just saying that for the sake of saying it.
    Because I also notice so many positive traits that come with the “disorder” that other people don’t seem to have. I have lots of energy. I don’t own a car yet, so I walk everywhere, sometimes covering dozens of kilometers in a day. I have a feeling most people wouldn’t be able-or willing to do that. I can also multi-task better than most people, I can bend ideas into all sorts of creative patterns, and I also learn much faster (but not in a classroom). I would never give up these good qualities in exchange for better organization or time management skills. I don’t know what its like to be one of those “perfectly organized people”, so how can I wish to be like them?

  7. Well one night in 2009 coming out of a video shop with a few friends to return a dvd, as we were walking out I saw a nisson silvia car sitting there on its own in the car park. I said “hey jacob video my jumping over this car!”
    Never have I tried jumping over a car before, but deep down I knew I could do it. Anyway, was about 12 meters away from the car and sprinted towards it and jumped right over across the roof without touching it :’) i have adhd, i did that when I was 17/18, I am 25 now. I loved playing basketball, it was like an escape, only way I made friends too was through sport. Im only 5’9 but everyone always loved how I could jump. I knew I could jump high…but that was in basketball, a car is a bit different haha. But I knew I could….and I did! In my opinion that is a prime example of adhd and confidence in motion. A lot of people loved watching the video and loved it.
    Things like that I would do sometimes, not to get other people to do what I did, but to show and teach them that anyone can do anything they want if they have great interest and put their mind to it….and to show people that its ok to break away from the “norm” from time to time to show people you are powerful and gifted in your own way.

  8. Remembering that ADHD is as individual as the individuals who have it:

    Academia was my domain of competence/excellence (we all have at least one).
    I did great in ordinary classrooms (except for the habitually messy desk in 2nd grade that drove my teacher crazy).
    As a girl w combined type, I had hyperactivity that manifested itself in school as enthusiasm for e everything. I wanted to answer every question, volunteer for every project.
    At home I was inattentive, routinely forgetting chores and other tasks I was told to do.
    I can’t multi task, it’s too overwhelming to my poor executive function. I count myself lucky to single task w any success.
    Nor am I high energy – secondary depression and advancing age. But I don’t think I ever was.
    I rarely see the big picture of anything. I have severe time blindness; analogously, I don’t see “beyond” much of any given cognitive point. Exception: reading about stuff I can almost always see where the author is headed. (But not my own writing.)
    I can do almost anything with text, and almost anything w numbers. I can do lots of arithmetic in my head. But I’m pretty pathetic operating in real space-time.
    The headline mentioned empathy, but didn’t discuss it. I thought our absent mindedness made us look as if we had little??

    I’m not too keen on the gift side of ADHD. I do believe we are all gifted, and maybe ADHD traits enhances some gifts, but it hasn’t mine.

  9. I found the link of the article that got deleted on “Yet, ADHD has been a struggle for him. Melotte doesn’t care for medication. The disorder vexes him most at work, as a project manager, when he had “a terrible struggle” keeping track of all the details. On the other hand, he believes that ADHD traits like empathy, intuition and the ability to motivate and inspire others made him a successful manager.” While some of us ADDers do have problems with empathy, others of us can very empathetic since we have often gone through hard times, been bullied, harassed or shamed and isolated and can have empathy for others in similar positions. Maybe your curiosity is your ADHD superpower, no ADDErs has to take a course on being curious and you can’t be a good learner without that.

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