Intelligence and Undiagnosed ADHD

A common misconception about ADHD is that it causes an impairment with intelligence. This could not be further from the truth. Some ADHDers, myself included, have been told, “You can’t have ADHD; you’re so smart.” The fact of the matter is many people with ADHD are incredibly intelligent. ADHD does not influence one’s intelligence. However, those who are intelligent and have ADHD often go undiagnosed for years.

You Can Be Smart and Have ADHD

I do not think many people would consider JetBlue founder David Neeleman or entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson unintelligent. Yet, both of these individuals have ADHD. They are just two people in a long list of successful individuals who have ADHD including Pete Rose, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Jim Caviezel, Howie Mandel, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Solange Knowles, Adam Levine, Justin Timberlake, Ty Pennington, Channing Tatum, and more.

Hard to Notice

A high intelligence can often hide the symptoms of ADHD. Those who are smart can “fake it ‘til they make it.” Their intelligence makes up for their deficits, and no one knows they are struggling. Instead, they get told things like, “You need to try harder.” When in reality, they are trying. They are trying as hard as they can.

This is what happened to me. I was intelligent enough to get by, but I was always told I needed to try harder. I never believed I was smart until I was tested for ADHD and told what my IQ score is. That is the power of an ADHD diagnosis. It empowers the individual to achieve their full potential.

The Lesson


My story (and probably the stories of many, many others like me) is why we need to look out for those who are intelligent but are struggling. Maybe, they are trying. Maybe, they are struggling and need to be treated for ADHD, not belittled for not trying hard enough. ADHD is serious and can cause extreme difficulties if not properly treated. There are intelligent people out there wondering why they cannot succeed and believing they are dumb. These are the people who need someone to be there for them, to tell they are smart, good, and not broken.

Today’s Reset ADHD Challenge:

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