Creativity in Children with ADHD

creativity in children with adhd

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many people globally. It has been connected to higher rates of failure in academic settings, a higher likelihood to be unemployed, and could make developing and maintaining relationships difficult. However, on the bright side, researchers have long wondered if ADHD has a strength: Enhanced creativity.

What is Creativity?

It turns out defining creativity is not as clear cut as it seems. With-in the research community there is a lot of debate, but one of the prevailing and most cited definitions of creativity is the ability to generate ideas that are both novel and useful. To test this, researchers examine divergent thinking and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the ability to generate many spontaneous and novel ideas. A divergent thinking task could look like finding new uses for an object, like using a brick as paper weight or a teapot as a planter. A convergent thinking task is usually understood as the ability to find the most appropriate solution to a problem. Both of these types of thinking are extremely important and used throughout the creative process.

Creativity and ADHD

When testing creative children and adolescents researchers found that, in some studies, up to 40% displayed clinically elevated symptoms of ADHD. Yet, as a whole, researchers have not yet examined more creativity in those with ADHD compared to the general public. The results of new research points towards elevated levels of creativity in people with ADHD-C, which is the combined subtype of ADHD. Unlike ADHD-I, which is the inattentive subtype, ADHD-C has more symptomatology involving hyperactivity and impulsiveness. These symptoms are linked to extraversion, a personality trait, and could contribute to a person's ease when taking center stage or doing some similar task. Hyperactivity and impulsivity could help individuals feel more comfortable and possibly more motivated to go out there and rack up creative achievements. ADHD-I groups did not score lower than the general public, but did score lower in creativity measures when compared to the combined subtype. Inattentive individuals may be just as creative as ADHD-C individuals, but might need more time as inattentive individuals have more frequent periods of disengagement.

Any person can be highly creative. Learning about individuals' propensity towards creativity and finding environments in which a child/adult operates best can realize potential ability. Creativity could be an important way to express emotion and solve problems more effectively. As we continue to better understand the strengths that come with ADHD we can continue to provide neurodivergent individuals with improved learning environments and the confidence to succeed!



Neurodiversity: Preparing for College
Practicing positive communication: Children and Te...