Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects more than 3 million people per year, and may last for years up to a person’s lifetime. Symptoms of this disorder often begin in childhood, with many people having attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD directly effects the brain’s executive functioning skills, impacting a person’s concentration, memory, motivation and effort, ability to learn from mistakes, organization, social skills, and more. If you have ADHD, you’ve likely found that it can cause distress in your daily life if it’s not managed. A common debate that many people have regarding ADHD is whether or not it’s a human adaptation towards a more fast-paced world. Let’s explore this concept.
Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist and author of his booked titled, “Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change” stated on the New York Times that in today’s society, certain cognitive tendencies, such as the ability to embrace novelty, to absorb a wide variety of information, and to generate innovative ideas are highly valued. Many people with ADHD possess these capabilities, especially regarding topics that are of serious interest to them. Does this mean that as humans we have evolved to possess more of these characteristics?
A study conducted by researchers from London and Norway and published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface stated that while the symptoms of ADHD may seem distressing at times, the combination of genes that carry ADHD can provide many benefits to society as opposed to being genetic coincidences. Does this mean that individuals with ADHD are smarter than others?
Not necessarily. A 2011 report published in Psychological Medicine determined that ADHD and IQ are completely separate entities, but that IQ can run in families similar to the way ADHD can. Although IQ can be carried through families, this does not mean that every person in a family may have a high IQ simply because another family member has it. Just as genetics vary within families for ADHD, they do so with factors such as IQ as well. If you’ve been stigmatized for having ADHD, consider the benefits that this disorder may have for society overall; ADHD shouldn’t be considered a “nuisance” or a “character flaw” of an individual, but rather a new way of perceiving the world and relating to it.
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