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ADHD, Creativity, & The Commercial Art Industry
By Justin Genovese

Every time I walk into school it is like entering a clinic. I’m taken back. I see students bouncing around the halls, creating a symphony through tapping appendages. Erratic and eccentric behavior is about the only constant. But really, it is a commune, refuge of sorts, for gifted young adults that aspire to be part of the professional creative industry.

What causes these behaviors and why are they nurtured in visual art schools? The nonprofit group CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) say that around 10% of Americans are diagnosed with ADHD and among that statistic 2% to 4% are adults. To clarify, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM IV-TR), the handbook used by those in psychiatric are as a guide for diagnosis, describes three primary symptoms of ADHD: inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. To be diagnosed as ADHD, the patient needs to exhibit at least six of the symptoms for inattention or at least six of the symptoms of the combined hyperactivity-impulsivity list. Based on these criteria, three types of ADHD are identified: ADHD Combined Type, ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type and ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. One could almost guarantee that visual art schools like Portfolio Center and similar programs possess a much higher percentage within the student body and faculty. So, why can individuals with ADHD find sanctuary in a creative environment?

First, the connection between ADHD and creativity must be evaluated. For several years now it has been argued that there is a strong correlation between ADHD and creativity. The exact nature of the relationship has not been intrinsically defined in large part because creativity and ADHD are themselves such complex and puzzling constructs. Regardless, one cannot ignore their astounding parallels.

“Being ADD means you see things other people miss. When you see a peach you see a piece of fruit. I see the color, the texture, and the field where it grew.” (Matthew Kutz, a 13-year-old student with ADD) (Hartmann). This statement is intriguing because as a student at a graduate level design school I learn to nurture these perceptions and how to effectively communicate them visually.

Creativity doesn’t mean the ability to finger paint. The highly creative individual has the ability to take distinct and recognizable pieces of information and join them in completely new ways. The ability to think conceptually, view the entire situation and find solutions to problems that are highly advanced and ingenious can bring great job satisfaction. Entrepreneurs, research scientists and engineers, trouble-shooters and inventors all depend on creativity, as do artists and designers. These fields are often suggested as good occupations for people with ADHD.

Dr. Bonnie Cramond published a paper in 1995 for The National Research Center On The Gifted and Talented called “The Coincidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Creativity.” Dr. Cramond reviewed the scientific literature available for both creativity research and ADHD research, and identified many striking parallels between the two conditions. A comparative analysis of brain structure showed strong similarities between the brains of diagnosed ADHDers and those who are highly creative. Creative people appear to have weaker “braking” mechanisms in their brains than normal people. Researchers in creativity hypothesize that this weak braking mechanism allows many spontaneous and unchecked thoughts to collide over time, resulting in creative thought. ADHD researchers observed a similar weak braking mechanism in the ADHD brain. They, however, consider this evidence as a neurological defect.

In a 1992 study, a group of ADHD children and a group of normal children with similar backgrounds and IQs were compared. The ADHD group was found to have a higher creativity and more use of imagery in problem solving, as well as more spontaneous thoughts during a problem-solving exercise. One researcher hypothesized in 1980 that “Intelligent individuals who are bombarded by ideas seek to make sense of them by organizing them into new perceptual relationships. Thus the creative, original idea is born” (Cramond).

The Creative and Inventive Personality: Many personality traits commonly associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are also associated with highly creative people:
• Inattention and Daydreaming
• Sensation Seeking
• Inability to finish projects
• Hyperactivity
• Enthusiasm and Playfulness
• Difficult Temperament
• Deficient Social Skills
• Academic Underachievement
• Hypersensitivity to Stimulation
• Mood Swings
(Cramond)

Practically all of the traditional ADD/ADHD symptoms can be translated into constructive job qualities in the commercial art arena. Pre-pubescent hyperactivity equates to high energy and drive. The child who talked too much at school can now demonstrate networking and sales abilities as well as being a constructive creative meeting member. An adolescent that was constantly distracted is later perceptive and formulates hypersensitive connections in everyday life. The ADHD teen determined to finish a video games now displays the ability to hyper-focus on a captivating project or account and finish the job uninterrupted. Most of all, the constant daydreaming in class can easily be associated with pure creativity.

There is a constant within this equation. It is simply theory regarding creativity in ADHDers and the connection between the commercial art industry and ADHD is undeveloped. However, it is difficult to refute that commercial art agencies desire to develop an environment that stimulates creativity. This is the very reason for their existence.

In recent years there has been a shift towards designing innovative work environments. This does not mean creating visually wacky, attention-grabbing offices. It is about closely tailoring the physical environment to the requirements of the organization. In the book The Creative Office, co-authors Jeremy Myerson and Philip Ross highlight an array of case studies showing the creative office in action. For them, these are environments, “that aim to support people in thinking more creatively about work - which promote the right-brain skills of intuition, imagination and synthesis, instead of the left-brain focus on rational order, protocol and precedent, which has tended to dictate the shape and style of inflexible scientifically managed offices in the past.”

Thanks to a progressive commercial art industry that caters to creativity and subsequently ADHD individuals, a positive job option is presented. While ADHDers continue to try to understand the disorder and equate their personalities into career advancement, design firms across the globe continue to provide the environment to do so. It seems near destiny that their paths continue to cross.

Of course, not all creative individuals exhibit impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. By the same token, not all professionals who exhibit ADHD behaviors will be highly creative. This article is not insinuating that only people with ADHD are creative but rather how they find refuge in creative environments and how often the commercial art arena can be that sanctuary. The correlation between the commercial arts industry and ADHD is far more than a coincidence and will continue to grow and develop if the relationship continues to be nurtured.

Download the accompanying PDF [832 Kb] for this esssay

Bibliography

APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV-TR. (Fourth Edition, Text Revision.) American Psychiatric Association, Washington, D.C., 2000.

Cramond, Bonnie, The Coincidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Creativity, (The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, 1995).

Hartmann, Thom, et al, Think Fast! The ADD Experience, (Underwood Books, 1996).

Justin Genovese is a student at Portfolio Center. This essay is the second in a series by PC students who took part in Bryony’s long-distance Design Thinking class during the quarter of winter 2005.

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PUBLISHED ON Mar.29.2005 BY Speak Up
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Bill Kerr’s comment is:

Finally --- someone has formally addressed this.

I had always been told that I was an ADD case since I was 12 years old: by peers, girlfriends, co-workers, etc.

I was formally diagnosed about a year and a half ago.

Of my friends in design school, I would estimate that at least HALF of them have been or would be diagnosed with ADHD. This has been a joking matter to us for several years.

It seems that many of the more creative individuals I have run into in the professional world are also SEVERE ADD cases... so this article comes as no surprise to me... but I still find it a bit conforting. :)

On Mar.29.2005 at 12:19 PM
Steven K.’s comment is:

Bill,

Are you being "treated" for it? Are you on any medication? If you are not being treated for it, what has been the benefit of knowing you have it? If you are being treated for it, has it affected your work in anyway?

-Steve

On Mar.29.2005 at 12:48 PM
graham’s comment is:

adhd and add are chronic, debilitating disorders-but, like depression (almost everyone could and does say they're depressed occasionally, but you really wouldn't want to actually experience depression) they've become catch-alls to explain everything from being a space cadet to being a dick. it's called 'attention deficit disorder'. think about it.

On Mar.29.2005 at 01:53 PM
graham’s comment is:

by the way, my response is to the article, not bill's post: as i say, adhd and add are serious conditions that need constant attention and care, and more often limit a person's potential than awaken it. the creative impulses are almost the polar opposite of the list of personality traits commonly associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

On Mar.29.2005 at 02:02 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Justin, this is a valuable examination. And just last week, the New York Times published an article on bipolar disorder and creativity. I confess that I too have wondered about the connection between add and bipolar disorder as it relates to design/art/creativity. I'm happy to see you approach this, and from a serious perspective.

On Mar.29.2005 at 03:06 PM
Tan’s comment is:

This post is very timely. I was listening to NPR yesterday, and there were two separate segments on ADD/ADHD.

The first story was about specialized ADD classes in elementary schools, and the advancements in practices and structure. What I found fascinating was that ADD children are easily distracted by vibrant colors and chaotic shapes and textures. So in order to create an environment where the students can focus, furniture and class decorations are kept muted, simple, and neutral/earth tones. Some students also wear vests that are weighted down, so that their tendencies to fidget and get up from their desks are literally grounded. The vests are voluntary, and are meant to be helpful, not cruel. It was clear that for ADD children, the ability to focus is the primary concern. Everything else, like fostering creativity, is secondary.

In the segment about adult ADHD, the focus centered around a new breed of colleges that offer specialized classes and programs for ADD college students. In these classes, lectures and exercises are structured differently to be more linear. Administered tests are given more time for ADD students to complete, as they need more time to focus and comprehend. Critics argue that these types of programs aren't indicative of real-world environments, where employers won't be as patient or accommodating.

I think the primary issue with ADD is to control focus, not encourage stimulation — whether it's creativity or not. I don't think there's a positive spin or correlation to creativity with ADD/ADHD. To me, creative stimulation and ADD therapy seem to be counter to one another.

On Mar.29.2005 at 03:30 PM
Jennifer’s comment is:

I've often had a problem with heavily medicating those with ADHD and ADD. It seems like something that can be mentally harnessed (I'm sure there are cases where that's not true). I've known many different people diagnosed with the disorder and I can recall two distinct ways it was dealt with.

One person I know was put on medication at a young age (about 12 years old) and is now on it 10 years later. He cannot socialize with people until he takes his medication. That's a problem he never had before the medication. He was studying elementary education and couldn't stay in the program because he could not focus on a governmental economics class. He's highly creative in thinking of new ways to teach lessons and create lesson plans for elementary students, but because he wasn't interested in governmental economics he couldn't keep the gpa to stay in the educational program. Because one topic did not interest him, he was seen as having a problem. he could have been a wonderful teacher, and perhaps will be someday. It just bothers me when we label someone as having a disorder because he/she may not exhibit interest in particular academic subjects.

Another person I know would be diagnosed with ADHD but refused to be labeled as such and therefore avoided the medication. He is highly creative and excelled in design school to be one of the top in his class. He graduated with honors and was offered many opportunities with many design agencies. His career has just started and already he has been very successful. He used the hyper focus to achieve, and was lucky enough to know what he was interested in and to go to a school geared for it.

The problem with labeling mild cases of ADHD and ADD and thereby prescribing medication means we've created an excuse. If someone isn't interested in something, then he/she has a disorder. Not everyone is interested in everything schools have to offer. Instead there needs to be an understanding that coping with the disorder can bring great rewards. If someone can hyper focus on something, then maybe that's the direction he/she should go. And one class about governmental economics shouldn't stop him/her.

It's an issue that needs to be addressed and dealt with without resorting to medication immediately. There are many different cases and sometimes medication is the only option, but from what I've seen in more than just these two cases, we need to look into more options in dealing with ADHD and ADD.

On Mar.29.2005 at 04:27 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

Is it about medication? Does this behavior stem from nurture or nature? What about our environment, what about technology?

We may not realize it, but the hardware we interact with promotes multi-tasking by making it look like we can handle more tasks, data, bits and bytes. Hypertext links items here and there, making the act of jumping more rewarding than the act of digestion. People want to archive anything and everything. Having so many MP3s in iTunes makes it harder to find a good track. Multiple users can login to your machine with unique profiles and documents. How do we focus when there are so many choices, and endless paths to choose from? How can we curb add or adhd when bombarded with so much information, data, sound, color, and stimuli?

Must designers face this challenge, and make things easily navigable? Or should we take a step back and begin to simplify our lives?

On Mar.29.2005 at 05:10 PM
graham’s comment is:

jason-add and adhd are conditions present from birth. not sure where the multi-tasking comes in-screaming and shitting at the same time?

it's not a question of being a bit miffed because you can't find that wonderful bjork track on your ipod.

"Must designers face this challenge, and make things easily navigable?"

fair point. worth thinking about-but doctors have a hard enough facing it as it is.

On Mar.29.2005 at 06:01 PM
graham’s comment is:

sorry:

fair point. worth thinking about-but doctors have a hard enough time facing it as it is.

On Mar.29.2005 at 06:02 PM
graham’s comment is:

another quick one, to be clear-this adhd that's being chatted about as if it's to do with running laughing so free with flowers in your hair and just sitting down anywhere you like even if it's in someone's way just because you absolutely have to write a poem even if you've got washing up to do is akin to tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. and it's incurable.

On Mar.29.2005 at 06:11 PM
Tan’s comment is:

To Graham's point, ADHD is a incurable disorder. Having to deal with an over-abundance of information and sensory chaos in our lives is not the same thing.

I read an article last year which found that children today visually process around 25,000-30,000 images a day, compared to children in the 50s that only processed a tenth of that. I have no doubt that by the time my kids are in college, kids will be processing nearly 100k images a day and typing 150 words a minute, All this means is that we're a very adaptable species, and we will continue to learn to accommodate more information, process it faster, and focus our critical thinking more precisely.

So I'm not sure there's a correlation between ADD cases and the explosion of environmental stimulis in our world.

On Mar.29.2005 at 06:23 PM
Drew’s comment is:

What Graham said.

And also, I blame the parents.

On Mar.29.2005 at 06:24 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

So I'm not sure there's a correlation between ADD cases and the explosion of environmental stimulis in our world. Still, this may be worth looking into from a clinical point of view.

On Mar.29.2005 at 06:59 PM
Kristian Walker’s comment is:

On the issue of meds-

My son inherited his ADHD from me. We went to a pediatrician that specialized in this and put my son through a battery of tests to diagnose him. I was worried that the meds would alter his personality. So far, though, he's still the same boy, but he's an honor roll student and reads almost 3 grades ahead of his peers.

Back when I was his age, ADD/ADHD was pretty much an unknown and most teachers wrote you off. I'm glad my son lives in a time when it's better understood and he won't have to deal with it as I did.

On Mar.29.2005 at 08:40 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 27 (no 'H' in me...thankfully) much to the chagrin of my mother, who has a degree in psychology. ;o)

In hindsight, it would have been GREAT to have been diagnosed as a kid in school. I did fine, but found any book-centric class to be a nightmare to get through. Granted, having the ADD is likely what got me into and through art school.

I finally got tested at the urging of my wife (who has a background in it being a gradeschool teacher) and was glad I did. Just knowing I had it explained a lot of my behavior. I also had a boss at the time who had it to a greater degree than I did. Which, surprisingly, is a good way to cope. I tended to overcompensate for his inability to stay focused.

It's also very genetic. My father has it, and he's developed the most anal of coping skills. Rather humurous at times.

I don't consider ADD debilitating in general. It certainly makes fitting into the 'herd' in an office routine difficult, though. It's actually quite freeing if you have a job that accepts it.

For me, though, the biggest issue is my family, and starting medication finally brought things into a nice balance. At least when I remember to take it. Which is hard when you hav ADD. ;o)

On Mar.30.2005 at 01:08 AM
Zoelle’s comment is:

I agree, I don’t think that there is much of a correlation between ADD/ADHD and technology. I’m not denying the fact that technology is full of intricacies, but I feel that the difference between someone with ADD/ADHD and a “normal” person resides in the brain’s ability to acclimate itself to it’s surroundings. Think of driver’s ed or your first time using Photoshop. Everything was a one time overwhelming, but now it hardly taxes your senses. If someone truly has ADD/ADHD I think they would find themselves overwhelmed, even living with Amish people. Stepping outside stimulates more senses for most people than sitting in a cubical all day.

If anything, there is a greater connection to high glycemic foods, caffeine, alcohol, medications and lack of sleep & exercise than technology. Of the different theories that have been circulating regarding these conditions I am most inclined to agree with http://www.newhorizons.org/spneeds/adhd/zeiler.htm" target="_blank">this.

On Mar.30.2005 at 12:00 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

If someone truly has ADD/ADHD I think they would find themselves overwhelmed, even living with Amish people.

It's not an issue of being overhwhelmed, it's an issue of focus. Folks with ADD tend to have a multi-tasking mind. Constant stimulation is actually the 'medication' that works for a lot of folks. (be it caffeine, ritalin, TV+radio blaring, or compulsive blogging... ;o)

Now, the advantage of this lack of focus is that they think in a much more sporadic manner...which is great for a lot of professions...namely those with a 'creative' bent.

On Mar.30.2005 at 01:37 PM
David M.’s comment is:

I am a design professor at a community college. My dean has a cliche about creative people. She calls it the "Look, there's goes a bird." syndrome. In effect, she's talking about a tendency to be distracted easily. :-)

The students I have dealt with who have serious learning disabilities (including ADD or ADHD) have a hard time with life in general. (I had one almost punch a computer once.) They have a difficult time staying on task, following directions, learning software, understanding design concepts, etc...

On Mar.30.2005 at 06:51 PM
Justin Genovese’s comment is:

The typical classroom environment is always difficult for ADDers, even at a school like Portfolio Center where the classes are less structured and allow students the freedom to make the environment comfortable and conducive to learning. However, in my experience most ADDers are strong critical thinkers so it suprises me to hear you say your ADD students have a difficult time understanding design concepts, especially as a whole.

I'm curious if anyone thinks that the connection that I drew between ADHD, creativity, and the commercial art industry is completely unjustified. With so many opinions regarding the validity of ADD/ADHD, surley there are some of you who feel the disorder is simply bogus.

On Mar.31.2005 at 12:26 AM
graham’s comment is:

"surley there are some of you who feel the disorder is simply bogus."

it's certainly used to cover a multitude of conditions (like i mentioned in my first response here). the thing with emotional and mental disorders is that unlike the physical you can't see them, which cuts both ways (it might be as hard to get someone to understand or even believe that one is deeply suffering as it would be easy for someone who is a bit 'wacky' to claim adhd in order to make themselves seem more interesting and 'entitled') -and i wouldn't doubt that some cases of even diagnosed adhd bear as much relationship to the condition as a paper cut does to a severed limb.

in sweden-and europe-one would need to be a noticeably disturbed individual to even begin the process of diagnosis.

On Mar.31.2005 at 05:37 AM
Rob’s comment is:

surley there are some of you who feel the disorder is simply bogus

As someone who has struggled with ADD my entire life (I am currently on medication which has helped) I can testify to the fact that there is nothing bogus about the condition.

I was not properly diagnosed until I was in my 20s. And by that time, I had established some coping mechanisms but many bad habits.

The worst thing about having ADD and being a designer is being responsible for the design and the production. My distractability always made proofing and looking at the details a difficult and challenging task. Now, when I have a project I make sure I have someone around to double-check my work. Because even while I can hyperfocus on certain elements of a project, there's always the chance I'll miss something.

The other difficulty most ADD people face is erasing their bad habits and creating new constructs to get them on track and focused on the tasks at hand. Most people with this disorder have been found to lack what has been termed "Exectuive Planning Skills." So, while it may seem that the ADD mind is set for multi-tasking, the opposite it true. Since a person with ADD has trouble focusing, they can easily be overwhelmed by their own lack of structure and priority,

Honestly, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. And me, well, I'm still trying to learn the best strategies for coping so that I can continue to be successful professionally.

On Mar.31.2005 at 06:41 AM
Bryony’s comment is:

For all you ADDrs, first of all thanks for sharing your personal experiences and thoughts on the subject.

I would be interested to know how your everyday environment helps or detracts from your work. Does working in an office with loud music, bright colors, lots of noise and people coming and going all day long interfere or not?

How do you feel about cubes vs. offices?

What are the kind of things that interrupt your work? And make it hard to re-focus?

On Mar.31.2005 at 10:58 AM
Joe Clark’s comment is:

Please fix your character encoding so that every bit of punctuation other than a period or comma isn't a question mark anymore. One more time: You cannot just copy and paste from Word for Windows.

Then again, this site's owner is known not to care about Web standards.

On Mar.31.2005 at 01:04 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

surley there are some of you who feel the disorder is simply bogus.

Well, I have it, so I can't agree with that, but I can agree it's often improperly diagnosed...especially in younger children.

I, personlly, also don't consider it a learning disability. It just requires a different way of learning. For me, that was hands-on art school vs. book-reading business school.

I would be interested to know how your everyday environment helps or detracts from your work. Does working in an office with loud music, bright colors, lots of noise and people coming and going all day long interfere or not?

That helps. The 'treatment' for ADD is stimulation. The concept is that you are distracting the part of the brain that is normally distracting your thought process. Kind of like giving a 3 year old a sucker. If you keep them busy for 10 minutes, you can get something done. That 3 year old is the ADD in my head.

So, in my past jobs, where is was a small team, open office, constant radio going, talking/bantering, frequent breaks, no set work hours, it never really bothered me. Since working in a 9-5 cubicle office, things became much more noticable, and, thus, the drugs. Which help.

ADD or not, though, cubes still suck and open offices are a much saner place to spend your days, IMHO.

Joe...they care, they are just not fully aware of all the issues. We have a lot of authors here. I can't speak for everyone, but perhaps we should have you write up a brief how-to for our authors.

On Mar.31.2005 at 01:53 PM
Justin Genovese’s comment is:

Rob~

Honestly, I wouldn't wish it on anyone. And me, well, I'm still trying to learn the best strategies for coping so that I can continue to be successful professionally.

While I COMPLETELY understand where your coming from, I think with ADD or any other personal issue you deal with you have to find the positives. And that was really what my paper was all about. I battle with the symptoms of this disorder everyday. Entering into the creative field has made it much easier for me to cope with my ADD on a career/professional level.

Tan~

I think the primary issue with ADD is to control focus, not encourage stimulation — whether it's creativity or not. I don't think there's a positive spin or correlation to creativity with ADD/ADHD. To me, creative stimulation and ADD therapy seem to be counter to one another.

What I'm saying is that the creative stimulation is already their and that the ADD/ADHD is providing this stimulation. Learning to use and harness these traits is the difficult task because I will always be battling with short attention span, lack of focus, and hyperactivity. To me, it's not about finding a positive spin to creativity with ADD. It's harnessing the positives of ADD with creativity.

Another question:

As a teenager I always struggled with taking my Ritalin because I felt like I was a drone. I got my work done but my amount of social interaction drastically decreased. Also I felt like my mind was being caged. Those wild ideas that I would have off the meds seemed unavailable. This is the reason why I stop taking Ritalin in college and really focused on controlling the symptoms myself. Has anyone ever felt that ADD medication is creatively constrictive?

Bryony,

For me, I need to be in a place with people and other stimuli when I'm in the idea phase. Bouncing questions off others and allowing my mind to wonder is where I draw my projects from.

BUT, when it's time for me to actually design and really get the work done I personally have to me in solitary confinement. Otherwise, I just won't stay focused on the task at hand.

On Mar.31.2005 at 02:01 PM
Jennifer’s comment is:

Those wild ideas that I would have off the meds seemed unavailable. This is the reason why I stop taking Ritalin in college and really focused on controlling the symptoms myself. Has anyone ever felt that ADD medication is creatively constrictive?

ADD/ADHD seem to be something better understood when you know and are close to people with it. I personally don't have either (well, not that I know of), but going to art school, I was one of few who seemed to not have it. The medication most people would to sell to the non-ADD/ADHDers for some extra cash, because they couldn't think creatively while on them. Their parents would send them the medication constantly because it helped to focus on reading, say, Beowulf or doing calculus problems in high school.

A friend of mine studying film was on adderall. He was getting horrible grades for not being creative or original in his film classes, he basically was a working robot while on the medication. His work really was bland, but he was highly organized and focused in what he did. Once he stopped taking the adderall his work took on a new form. it was fresh, inspiring and different. He naturally had a hard time focusing on staying on top of deadlines and organized, but with a palm pilot and extra effort in controlling the symptoms, he ended up with the top short film in his graduating class. He's now in LA as an editor and he's been out of school less than a year. He never would have made it that far on the adderall.

It really seems that in some cases people use the diagnosis as a crutch. like everything in life, you have to find the positive out of a situation. If you hyperfocus in one area, follow that. If you lack focus in something, make it a goal to focus and stay attentive. I know, harder said than done, but when I've seen quite a few of my friends turn the disorder into a positive attribute rather than an excuse, they've gone really far. I know this is not the case for everyone, so don't attack me for not knowing what it's like. This friend of mine, and the other two people I mentioned in a blurb above really make me question how we deal with the disorder.

On Mar.31.2005 at 04:02 PM
Joe Murphy’s comment is:

Hey, have any of you ever heard / read the book Talking Back to Ritalin?

On Mar.31.2005 at 10:58 PM
Jennifer’s comment is:

Wow, I read the intro to Talking Back to Ritalin online and while it's more than I've ever seen or heard of, it's still frightening. My bother, the first person I mentioned earlier, the one who can't socialize normally until he takes his adderall, was put on medication after just one incident on the school bus. He might have been 12 at the oldest and a bully dared him to take a lighter to the back of a bus seat melting a tiny hole in it. I mean the diameter of a pencil. he was sent to the principal's office and my parents were told he had mental and behavioral problems. (our school was too big and too poor to approach behavioral problems in any other way.) The principal suggested a psychiatrist who immediately put him on Ritalin and when that didn't do anything but depress him, put him on Adderall. He spirit is so slow and sad now...almost monotone. It's very sad and scary to see. At first he was still a kid but as he became a teenager, he became more and more monotone and now can't do anything, even simple things like go to the mall with his friends until he takes his Adderall.

On Apr.01.2005 at 10:33 AM
Amanda’s comment is:

I would have been diagnosed as having it as a child if it was recognized then. As an adult, I am an artist and have always been creative, since childhood. Every artist I know is a self described ADD or ADHD case. ALL OF THEM! Could it be that it's not a coincidence but really parents and teachers ineffectual guidance and management of creative children's personalities? Is it also a coincidence that when we are suddenly losing funding for so many arts programs in the schools, that so many children are now diagnosed with it? Without those classes, we are now missing the opportunity to notice that these children can in fact sit still in an art and music classes and to give them an outlet for that creativity. I suspect as we lose more arts funding we will also see a further rise in ADD and ADHD diagnosis. That's a study I would like to see.

I am also wondering how all these drugs that kids are being prescribed will affect the amount of art that is being produced in the future and whether we'll see a slow down or lack of artists and art in the future because these creative children are being medicated.

On Sep.07.2006 at 01:19 PM
Thomas’s comment is:

So what came first, ADD or ritalin? I believe if you research the timelines they were both discovered around the same time.

I am not disputing the symptoms of the ultra creative types. Afterall someone has to come up with the idea of going to the moon before the scientists figure out if its possible.

To the author of the original story:

Great example with the pair.

On Oct.03.2007 at 05:14 AM
Roma’s comment is:

So far, I have not located any evidence that ADD meds "mute" the creative process.

I have ADD, but only recently, at age 43, was diagnosed and treated. And what a relief! I can now follow a creative project through to completion, choose when and how to respond to outside (and inside) stimuli, and be a more patient and present human being.

By the way, my elementary school asked my parents to put me on Ritalin to control my symptoms (emotional & physical outbursts which were disruptive to the class and to my relationships with other kids), but my parents didn't listen, ergo, years of debilitating frustration. I had a high IQ and loved school, so teachers weren't trying to limit my talents whatsoever.

Creatives &/or ADDers need discipline and structure in order to do their best work, though the specifics are unique to each person.

After years of starts and uncontrollable stops in the process of creating (running businesses, painting, writing poetry, etc.), I'm very grateful to have consistent access to my skills and talents via the meds I take. Meds also allow me to enact the skillsets I learned in therapy & the training I've had as a Marriage & Family Therapist & Life Coach.

Good wishes & creative output to all!

On Nov.05.2007 at 12:56 PM
Eileen’s comment is:

I am an art teacher with a 6th grader who loves art class but every single choice he makes takes time, unfortunately, more time than the class allows. It has been suggested that I give him fewer choices but that doesn't seem right. He is on new meds but he just agonizes about every decision. This particular class has 28 students so I cannot give him the personal attention that he needs. It is a private school and we cannot afford to have a private state helper for him. (I have parent volunteers.) I don't want to isolate him. I wouldn't even know how to do that as I have never, in 15 years, ever isolated a student in my classroom.
I would appreciate any suggestions as I believe he may be a very creative child. Also, does anyone have any idea why his writing, drawing etc is getting smaller and smaller? It is so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to see the detail but he can see it!

On Feb.21.2008 at 12:38 AM
ronald Sorenson’s comment is:

I am a 50 year young man that was diagnosed 3 years ago. I have to say it changed my life, this is the best gift I have ever recived. Now i am starting a movement to help all who have this gift and devote my life to helping. I need all the help I can get, I have spoken to many celebs. and they are also willing.

Ron
[email protected]

On May.31.2008 at 01:25 PM