Too Smart

too smart
… to believe

Have you heard it yet? Have you had someone tell you that they know you don’t have ADHD because you’re too smart?

Have you had someone tell you that their child was offered a diagnosis of ADHD but they refused to accept that because they knew it wasn’t true. And they based their declaration on their knowledge of their child’s intelligence. They declared their child too smart to smart to have ADHD.

And maybe you heard these things and thought, “Hey, wait a minute. I am too smart.” or, “By gosh, they’re right, their child is pretty clever. Too clever to have ADHD.”

Well, maybe …

And maybe you are smart. And maybe that child is smart. But what is smart? And what is clever?

And what is ADHD?

Good questions, right?

Smart and clever generally refer to someone’s ability to solve problems. It may be augmented by their ability to remember details and facts. It might also be partly augmented by their willingness to take chances, explore possibilities, learn.

ADHD is a developmental issue that affects the frontal lobe. It inhibits executive function and restricts the production and efficient use of certain brain chemicals. It is sometimes accompanied by other disorders such as anxiety or OCD or ODD. It is also sometimes accompanied by learning disorders, LDs, such as Dyslexia, and Dyscalculia, and may also be accompanied by Dysgraphia.

What does all that mean?

That’s a limited description of ADHD, but for this conversation it will do. And what it means is up to you.

But I want to ask you, does anything in that description sound like it says “not smart?”

Limited abilities, maybe …

I know a man who was born with a bad leg. He had a club foot and tendon problems. And to this day his one leg is thin and looks under developed.

You’d think that would make life difficult right? Wrong.

Hard to keep a good man down

In high school he played football. When the mood took him he could run ten miles non stop. He played rep team soccer for the city as a teen. He was not unstoppable, but he was not going to be stopped by anyone’s perception of what he should or shouldn’t be able to do.

That young man was two things to me back then. He was my little brother. And he was my hero. And if you’re wondering, he is still both those things to me.

What’s that got to do with ADHD?

Sometimes it’s our challenges that make us who we are. Sometimes it is the supreme effort we make to be able to keep up that makes us as able as we are. I know so many people with ADHD who seem to me to be brilliant.

And me? I am not too smart to have ADHD. But I am too smart to believe someone who thinks they can diagnose someone based on their idea of what ADHD must be and how it must limit people.

Quite frankly, that’s just stupid.

Too Smart

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2017). Too Smart. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from


Last updated: 17 May 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 May 2017
Published on All rights reserved.