Dispelling a myth: ADHD and high IQ

Canadian researchers recently investigated whether Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is associated with above-average intelligence. Bonnie J. Kaplan, Susan G. Crawford, Deborah M. Dewey and Geoff C. Fisher, University of Calgary, report that one of the unsubstantiated but persistent myths about ADHD is that children and adults with ADHD are “often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent.”

Kaplan et al. examined this idea by studying children from all the diagnostic clinics and special schools in Calgary. Using a short form of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Third Edition, researchers evaluated 63 children with ADHD, 69 children with reading problems and 68 children with both attention and reading problems. Results indicated that these children exhibited a normal distribution of IQs. The majority of the children (more than 50 percent) in each group fell in the normal range. The percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD who scored in the above-average range for IQ was not significantly bigger than those in the other two groups.

These results are judged to be reliable because the sample size was large and the Canadian health-care system ensures that all children experiencing problems are referred for assessment and treatment. These researchers concluded that children with ADHD are no more likely to have an above-average IQ than other children.

“The IQs of Children with ADHD Are Normally Distributed” Journal of Learning Disabilities Volume 33, Number 5, October 2000 Pp. 425-432.

Published in ERN October 2000 Volume 13 Number 7

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