A popular misconception is that all children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are naturally smarter and have a higher IQ than children without ADHD. However, there is no correlation between this condition and intelligence.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that can make it difficult for people to focus and to control impulsive behaviors. The symptoms of ADHD in young children tend to be recognizable, and a healthcare professional can usually make a diagnosis.
Keep reading for more information on ADHD and IQ.
There are no confirmed links between ADHD and intelligence. However, some people continue to contest this.
ADHD can affect a person's ability to function at work or at school. This can make it very difficult for them to complete certain everyday tasks, which can cause other people to believe that people with ADHD have lower IQs.
On the other hand, a person with ADHD may also experience hyperfocus. This symptom is state of fixation on something that interests a person. For example, they may show extreme focus on tasks they enjoy doing. This may cause them to appear more capable at certain school or work activities, and it may lead some people to believe that they have a higher IQ.
In one study, researchers showed that there is no connection between ADHD and lower IQ. In fact, the study showed that there is no correlation between IQ and ADHD at all.
Another study examined cognitive impairment differences between people with high IQs who did or did not have ADHD. It found that people with high IQs and ADHD were more likely to have lower cognitive functioning.
However, the study did not use any other control groups, so these results are not conclusive.
Another potential reason that many people believe in a correlation between IQ and ADHD is the diagnosis process. A psychologist or other healthcare professional diagnoses ADHD based on long term observation of possible symptoms.
There is no single test that determines whether or not a person has ADHD.
From this long term observation, it may appear as though the person has a higher-than-average IQ because they focus on their school work. Likewise, it may seem that they have a lower-than-average IQ because they find it difficult to focus on school work.
It is also possible for healthcare professionals to misdiagnose ADHD. For example, people who are highly functioning on the autism spectrum, those with certain learning disabilities, and individuals with bipolar disorder can all display symptoms similar to those of ADHD.
Children with undiagnosed ADHD may need additional support at school.
There is no single cause of ADHD, and scientists are still investigating many suspected causes. However, some of the potential causes of ADHD include:
- neurobiological conditions, which a person's immediate environment may trigger
- exposure to certain toxins
- head injury
- premature birth
- reduced levels of activity in the brain areas that control attention and activity
- exposure to nicotine or alcohol while in the womb
There is no evidence to suggest that these factors cause ADHD:
- eating too much sugar
- consuming food additives
The most common treatment option for ADHD is stimulant medications, such as Ritalin or Adderall. When a person uses these medications correctly, they can be highly effective in providing relief from the symptoms of ADHD.
Doctors believe that stimulants alter the chemicals in the brain responsible for focus. There is also some evidence to suggest that stimulants may improve symptoms of hyperactivity and impulse control.
After treatment, children with ADHD may show marked improvement in tests and other school work. This can make it appear as though their intelligence increases.
However, the effect is actually due to them being better able to focus on the task at hand. This can allow them to learn better and fully focus on tests.
ADHD can make completing tasks such as school work, homework, or work projects much more difficult.
However, there is no clear link between ADHD and IQ. A person may have a high, average, or low IQ score and also have ADHD.
ADHD may cause a person to interrupt in class or perform poorly on tests. This can cause other people to believe that they may have a lower IQ.
On the other hand, a person with ADHD may become hyperfocused on tasks they enjoy, which can lead others to believe that they have a higher-than-average IQ.
In any case, stimulant medications can help a person with ADHD focus and control impulsive behaviors.
If a parent or caregiver suspects that their child has ADHD, they can discuss their concerns with a healthcare professional. Once the child has received a diagnosis, they can start treatment that may help them better focus.