It's a belief many parents of kids with ADHD have long held — kids with ADHD are more creative than their non-ADHD counterparts. New research shows that what was perhaps once considered only positive thinking is actually backed with scientific evidence.
A study published in February 2011 by the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences has found that individuals with ADHD display marked differences in both their creative abilities and their approaches toward creative problem solving.
Although it is difficult to define creativity, creativity is often associated with the ability to engage in "divergent" thinking. Divergent thinking describes the thought process used when exploring many possible solutions to a single problem or concept. Convergent thinking is the opposite — it is the ability to give a single answer based on logical and conventional thought.
Since a hallmark characteristic of ADHD is a lack of restraint, both behaviorally and intellectually, it's long been believed that individuals with this disorder tend towards divergent, or creative, thinking.
The basis of this study was to determine whether a person with ADHD has more creativity when applying it to real-world scenarios than someone who does not have ADHD.
Subjects were asked to complete a survey that asked a set of highly specific questions related to their personal creative achievements. The survey focused on 10 creative domains, including drama, humor, and writing, among others. For example, one question asked whether the individual's "work has ever won a prize at a juried art show."
Overall, subjects with ADHD scored significantly higher than those without an ADHD diagnosis.
The study also found that those with ADHD were more likely to excel at specific creative domains, particularly performing arts like acting. Although the differences were not statistically significant, there was a definite trend.