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Re: Just because I wasn't confused enough… ADD or Gifted?

Re: Just because I wasn't confused enough… ADD or Gifted?2011-07-27T16:55:12+00:00

The Forums Forums Ask The Community Just because I wasn't confused enough… ADD or Gifted? Re: Just because I wasn't confused enough… ADD or Gifted?


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I was in the gifted class in school, went to college for physics, grad school for atmospheric physics, worked for NASA, then went to law school and graduated 2nd out of 300. I just found out about my ADD a month ago, at age 37. I never thought I was smart, I always attributed my success to hard work. I tended to think the stuff I did was easy, and was just a matter of thinking through things, staying focused. I realize now, that that was delusional–I am really smart. You don’t get a fellowship from NASA if you’re not smart. But it’s hard to believe you’re smart when you have to work hard to study for exams, you can’t focus on the boring stuff, you fall asleep while reading (all the time!) and you make brainless mistakes on simple things.

I don’t know if ADD people are smarter than the muddles or not. From this site, it certainly seems so, but we’re all self-selected. We are the ones who know about our condition and are looking for help. My therapist said that people with a high IQ are able to cope better with ADD, so maybe those with normal or lower IQ are the 50-70% of folks in prison with ADD, or addicted to drugs. If you include them in the ADD pool, maybe we’re not as smart–or maybe we are, and they just had bad luck.

Maybe IQ tests are not useful for people with ADD. We’re all good at solving non-linear problems, and thinking outside the box. A standard IQ test is about linear thinking and pattern recognition. I don’t think those are core competencies for folks with ADD. My IQ was tested just above 100, not what you would expect for someone with my accomplishments. When I look back at my success, it was always due to my contributing big, splashy, revolutionary ideas (in admittedly narrow areas of science and law). I was the guy who came up with a clever way to solve an intractable problem.

I guess my point (if I even have one), is that you shouldn’t worry too much about standard measurements like IQ. If you have ADD, you’re a different kind of normal. One definition of intelligence is:

  1. Adaptability to a new environment or to changes in the current environment
  2. Capacity for knowledge and the ability to acquire it
  3. Capacity for reason and abstract thought
  4. Ability to comprehend relationships
  5. Ability to evaluate and judge
  6. Capacity for original and productive thought

These are all core competencies of people with ADD, but are implicitly difficult to test objectively. They are sometimes expressed as restlessness, curiosity, hyperfocus, interrupting people because you know what they’re saying before they finish; impatience with waiting for others to catch up. I think that’s what the borntoexplore site is saying. That’s not to say that ADD is a superpower or a gift, or that we should live without treatment (whether medication or meditation or something else). The gifted and talented classes gave me an opportunity to learn exciting stuff, instead of memorizing the state capitals. But my life probably would have been easier, and I might have gone even further, if I had been diagnosed and taken meds.