My friend was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, but her parents disagreed with such a diagnosis on the grounds that she had a high IQ which was discovered when her psychologists and psychiatrists were investigating what mental illnesses she may have had.

Edit: There was medicine prescribed, but she and her mother can't remember the name of her prescribed medicine.

I thought back to that when reading this:

Myth #10: Kids with ADHD won't amount to anything.

Many famous artists, scientists, and politicians had ADHD as children. Here's a list of some well-known celebrities with ADHD:

It seems to me based on that and the things I've heard that people think ADHD in children causes poor academic performance, but the myth is that such poor academic performance is suggesting that said children "won't amount to anything".

So, people don't think that children with ADHD can be geniuses?

Expansion: Is it, however, also a misconception (whether as prevalent as a myth or not) that people who are thought to have mental illnesses instead are geniuses or something like that?

By genius I mean someone with a high IQ.


2 Answers 2


Sounds to me like someone is making a logical fallacy here, though the origin of this fallacy isn't clear to me.

We cannot go from 'poor academic performance', to 'not amounting to anything', to 'having a low IQ'. These are not relationships of cause and effect.

The motivation to do something ('amount to something', if you will) is driven primarily by the reward-center. The neurotransmitter 'dopamine' is considered to be a large player in this game. Dopamine tends to project to the areas associated with reward (and these areas are clustered into the abstraction known as the pleasure center). Incidentally, ADHD has shown to be a dysfunction of executive reasoning as a result of low dopamine levels.

IQ is not determined by executive functioning. IQ is almost independent of executive functioning. If they were interchangeable, then Albert Einstein would have a very low IQ compared to, say, Donald Trump. I say that it is 'almost' independent because it is not clear that there is no relationship between the two at all. Studies have shown that ADHD sufferers show an average increase of 4.5 IQ points after long-term use of dopamine-reuptake inhibitors. [1]

You might also be interested in this page to answer the second part(?) of your question. It is well-written and extremely insightful.


[1] Millichap JG (2010). "Chapter 3: Medications for ADHD". In Millichap JG. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Handbook: A Physician's Guide to ADHD (2nd ed.). New York: Springer. pp. 121–123.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Sydney Maples. I'll read more into this later. As for you saying "We cannot go from 'poor academic performance', to 'not amounting to anything'", I mean that that is the myth. I think it is reasonable to think that ADHD can lead to poor academic performance $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2015 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ ADHD XD $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2015 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ Read. Can one test low dopamine levels? $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2015 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ Oh sorry, I guess I didn't clearly put my question in 2 parts $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2015 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ And about the IQ while I am inclined to agree with you, the argument with the IQ and ADHD is that people with ADHD are seen to be suffering from academic difficulties so the fact that this person has a high IQ, accomplished this and that, etc seems to suggest that the person is mentally healthy or has no ADHD. What is the incorrect part of the argument? $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2015 at 21:47

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a type of neurological developmental condition that affects in the childhood and can continue in adulthood.

It is a particular set of how the brain functions and related behaviors of an individual with ADHD.

Children with ADHD are hyperactive, have trouble paying attention and unable to control their impulses.

Some people with ADHD might have higher IQs, but assuming that there’s a correlation may be harmful because it can keep your child from getting the help they need.

The fact is, intelligence and ADHD don’t go hand in hand. ADHD can affect an individual’s ability, whether at school or work depending on the symptoms.

At times, everyday tasks can be quite difficult which can give off the impression that such an individual has a low IQ.

At ACCEL, a range of verbal, memory and problem-solving tests are carried out for special needs education. On the flip side, many people with ADHD seem to only be able to focus their attention on something they enjoy doing.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289616303324


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