Do People with ADHD Think More Quickly?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects both children and adults. Its symptoms include difficulty in concentrating, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Though it is a disorder that has been widely understood, there are still certain misconceptions surrounding ADHD. One of the most common misconceptions is that people with ADHD think more quickly than those who don’t have it. This article delves into the topic and examines the claim more critically.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be diagnosed in both children and adults, and the symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. It can have a significant impact on a person’s social, academic, and work life.

People with ADHD may find it difficult to concentrate, follow directions, and complete tasks. They may also be easily distracted, forgetful, and have trouble organizing and structuring their work. They may have difficulty sitting still or being calm and may act impulsively, without thinking through the consequences of their actions. It’s crucial to note that ADHD can vary from person to person and can present differently in different individuals.

Can People with ADHD Think More Quickly?

There is a common misconception that people with ADHD think more quickly than those without it. Many people believe that the hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD give individuals some sort of a cognitive edge. This claim is often used to suggest that people with ADHD are better suited for certain careers, such as those in fast-paced environments, stock trading or emergency medicine.

However, there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that people with ADHD think more quickly. In fact, research suggests that individuals with ADHD might experience significant cognitive deficits. A meta-analysis conducted by the American Psychological Association suggests that people with ADHD have significant difficulties with inhibitory control, short-term memory, and processing speed.

Processing speed is defined as the ability to perform simple cognitive tasks quickly and accurately. A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that people with ADHD have slower processing speeds than their non-ADHD counterparts, and this can affect their ability to perform daily tasks that require fast processing.

Similarly, individuals with ADHD have been shown to struggle with working memory, which is the ability to hold information in mind while performing a task. Studies have found that, on average, people with ADHD have a smaller working memory capacity than their non-ADHD peers. This may make it difficult for people with ADHD to complete complex tasks that require them to remember several pieces of information at once.

Thus, while people with ADHD may appear to be thinking faster due to their impulsivity and an inclination towards multitasking, they are not quicker in processing information or making decisions. Therefore, the claim that people with ADHD think more quickly is a myth that needs to be debunked.

The Downsides of Having ADHD

While ADHD may often be associated with intelligence, a wealth of studies have shown that those with ADHD may experience numerous academic and social drawbacks. This just goes to show that intelligence has little to do with ADHD and highlights the negative effects of the condition.

For one, children with ADHD may be irritable, display restlessness, and experience difficulties following academic instruction. As a result, they are often viewed negatively by peers and teachers, with the negative experiences leading to low self-esteem and academic anxiety.

Adults with ADHD may find it hard to hold down a job or complete tasks in a timely manner. They may also struggle with staying organized and focused on the job at hand. This can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction and underachievement in their work life. People with ADHD also suffer from higher rates of co-occurring depression and anxiety disorders, which can further reduce the quality of life.


The claim that people with ADHD think more quickly is a common misconception that disregards the science behind ADHD. Studies have shown that ADHD affects individuals’ cognitive abilities in several ways, including inhibitory control, short-term memory, and processing speed. Therefore, this misconception needs to be addressed and corrected.

It is essential for individuals with ADHD to seek appropriate treatment to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Treatment options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and mindfulness meditation, can help individuals with ADHD manage their symptoms and overcome the challenges they face in their daily lives.

It’s important to remember that ADHD may have its challenges, but it doesn’t define an individual’s worth or intelligence. With proper treatment and support, individuals with ADHD can lead fulfilling lives and excel in their own way.


FAQs: Do People With ADHD Think More Quickly?

Q: Is thinking quickly a common trait among people with ADHD?

A: Not necessarily. While ADHD can mean that people with the condition are more easily distracted and may need to think quickly to keep up with fast-paced environments, it does not guarantee that they will think more quickly than those without ADHD. It is important to remember that each person with ADHD is unique and their thinking abilities will vary.

Q: How can someone with ADHD improve their thinking speed?

A: There are various strategies that people with ADHD can use to improve their thinking speed, including mindfulness practices like meditation, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and using tools like timers and alarms to stay on track. Working with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized treatment plan can also be helpful.

Q: Is thinking quickly always a good thing?

A: Not necessarily. While being able to think quickly can be helpful in some situations, it can also lead to impulsivity and a lack of attention to detail. People with ADHD may benefit from taking a pause and thinking things through more slowly to make more thoughtful decisions. It is important to strike a balance between thinking quickly and thinking critically.


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2. Martel, M. M., Nikolas, M., & Nigg, J. T. (2007). Executive function in adolescents with ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 46(11), 1437-1444.

3. Biederman, J., Monuteaux, M. C., Doyle, A. E., Seidman, L. J., Wilens, T. E., Ferrero, F., … & Faraone, S. V. (2004). Impact of executive function deficits and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on academic outcomes in children. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 72(5), 757-766.