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Is Being Neurotypical a Superpower?

Sometimes you’ll hear people suggest that ADHD isn’t a disorder, or even a difference, but a superpower! Often these people are trying to sell you something. As in, “unlock your ADHD superpower, for only $9.99!”

I’ve pointed out before that as far as superpowers go, ADHD really isn’t the coolest one there is. Your $9.99 would be better spent on X-ray vision.

Recently, though, I started to wonder – what if not having ADHD is a superpower?

Think about it. Neurotypicals can do some pretty amazing things.

SuperheroFor starters, they can force themselves to pay attention to things they don’t find interesting. They have the ability to tell their brain to focus on a certain thing or do a certain task … and then their brain listens?

Neurotypicals apparently can sit still for extended periods of time with little effort. For neurotypicals, “motivation” is not something flighty and totally outside their control, but something they can actually generate themselves.

There’s a mysterious way of perceiving the world that’s accessible to neurotypicals in which actions are prioritized according to their consequences rather than whether they’re immediately rewarding. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it.

Basically, neurotypicals have the ability to decide what their brain should be doing and then to have their brain do it. If that’s not a superpower, I don’t know what is.

Unlike ADHDers, it seems that neurotypicals don’t need any self-appointed experts to tell them how to “unlock” their superpower. They use their extraordinary abilities naturally to do things like graduate from school, maintain healthy lifestyles, pay their bills on time, and settle into stable careers.

Honestly, as I’m writing this post, it continues to boggle my mind that there are people out there, walking down the street, who have these hidden abilities. Someone should make a movie about this.

The neurotypical superhero movie can start with our hero as a child, discovering their uncanny ability to sit still and concentrate on monotonous tasks. Perhaps the hero’s parents will recognize that their child is special when report cards start to come home saying that the child is disciplined, works hard, and seems to be achieving up to potential in school.

As our superhero ages, they’ll continue to get good grades. They’ll go to college and receive a degree in some practical field. Eventually, they’ll start a family and maintain a household where they perform feats such as washing the dishes every night, making financially sensible decisions, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Along the way, we’ll witness our hero perform jaw-dropping demonstrations of self-control, sound judgment, consistency, organizational aptitude, and planning for the future.

I’d go see it! Honestly, it sounds like it might be more interesting than the ADHD superhero movie, if only because of the novelty of neurotypical superpowers.

I mean, I’m still in awe at some of the things neurotypicals can do. Invisibility or flying is a superpower that’s not hard to understand. But sitting still for the duration of a boring meeting and listening attentively to what was said? I’m still trying to wrap my head around that!

Image: Flickr/Robert Ball

Is Being Neurotypical a Superpower?

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. (2019). Is Being Neurotypical a Superpower?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 4 Jun 2019
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