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Why I Think Santa Claus Has ADHD

Lately I’ve had a theory that I’d like to run by you. In so many words: I believe that Santa Claus has ADHD.

Allow me to present the evidence.

First, Santa Claus is responsible for delivering millions of presents, and he doesn’t do any of it until the night before Christmas. That has got to be the most severe case of procrastination I’ve ever seen. I’m responsible for getting significantly fewer people presents than Santa Claus is, and while I’ve done my fair share of last-minute Christmas shopping, even I don’t do every present on literally the last possible night.

Santa Claus
Santa Claus on the morning of December 24, when he realizes the magnitude of the task he’s been procrastinating on.

Then there’s the business with the milk and cookies. It’s hard to come up with an exact figure, but I think it’s safe to say that Santa Claus eats an ungodly number of cookies on Christmas Eve. Let’s face it: the guy has some serious impulse control problems. Again, not in and itself definitive, but totally consistent with ADHD.

Despite the cookies, Santa Claus is extremely active. He’s all over the place. Literally, he goes everywhere. Talk about a guy who can’t sit still – textbook hyperactivity.

Santa is also known for his sense of humor, i.e. his “jolliness.” And many ADHDers do indeed find that their sense of humor is one of their redeeming qualities.

Obviously, I can’t say for sure whether Santa Claus has ADHD. But one thing we do know indisputably is that the guy is obsessed with Christmas. It’s fair to say that no one gets into Christmas as much as Santa Claus. I submit to you that Santa Claus may be experiencing hyperfocus, which enables him to be so relentlessly productive on Christmas Eve despite his typical lack of self-control that causes him to delay all his holiday duties until the last possible minute.

In light of these symptoms, it’s actually quite remarkable that Santa Claus has achieved the success he has. True, no doubt there are areas for improvement. If Santa Claus were to try meds, for example, he might find that he was able to distribute his work evenly throughout the year rather than leaving it all until Christmas Eve, he might be able to ration the cookies better, and he might even discover that with less stress and chaos in his life, his relationship with Mrs. Claus improves.

But to be fair to Santa, he’s doing pretty well. For one thing, he’s found the holy grail of ADHD: an occupation that fits with his brain, where his symptoms are not only accommodated but where he can excel.

Plus, the guy clearly has some well-developed coping mechanisms. I mean, I’ve talked about different ways of delegating in order to cope with ADHD, but having an entire army of elves never occurred to me.

I do think Santa Claus would benefit from considering treatment for his ADHD. And that treatment should include psychotherapy. Living for years with undiagnosed ADHD can leave you with a lot of baggage – and in Santa’s case, he has so much baggage that he needs eight reindeer just to haul it all around!

But in the end, from one ADHDer to another, I consider Santa Claus as a sort of inspiration or a model of how to manage ADHD – find the path that works for you, and go for it. Really, one look at the guy is all you need to know that he isn’t neurotypical, but he owns it, and that has gotten him far in life.

Happy holidays to all ADHD Millennial readers! And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by last-minute Christmas shopping, just remember: if Santa can do it, you can too.

Image: Flickr/Matti Mattila

Why I Think Santa Claus Has ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2017). Why I Think Santa Claus Has ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Dec 2017
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