ADHD and IQ are Not Related

Douglas Cowan Psy.D. MFT's picture
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ADHD is Not Related to IQ or Intelligence

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not related to I.Q.

Some parents are convinced that if their child has ADD ADHD it means that they are retarded. They see their child's poor performance in school or at home and just assume that the child is not very smart.

On the other hand, other parents say, "I've heard that AD/HD kids are really very, very bright. I think my child must have ADHD," as if they wanted to wear a button that said, "My child is smarter than your child because he has ADHD."

Well, that's ridiculous.

Some Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder kids are below average I.Q., and some are even retarded. Some ADHD kids are above average I.Q., and some are even quite brilliant.

Most Kids are Average

But the awful truth for a parent to hear is that MOST kids are AVERAGE I.Q.

That's why they call it "average."

And most Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder kids have average I.Q. as well. They just have a real tough time in the classroom setting.

In fact, if you think about it, the classroom setting is probably the worst possible setting for these kids. There are a lot of distractions, they are told to sit still, don't move, don't talk, to pay attention to boring worksheets, and keep on task until the work is finished. None of these things come easily to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder kids.

It is true that most ADHD kids will score poorly on certain of the IQ test's sub-tests, especially those that have to do with short-term memory or focused attention. And these specific deficits will pull down the over all IQ scores. But take those predictably poor areas of performance away and the great majority of ADHD kids will be "average."

This book section: What is ADHD?

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Tehachapi, CA who has been a counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource at His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. Visit his website at for more information on achieving greater health, personal growth, Christ-centered spirituality, stress management, parenting skills, ADHD, working out the stresses of being a care-giver to elderly parents and also being a parent to teenagers, or finding greater meaning in retirement years, Dr. Cowan can be a valuable resource to you.

Counselor counseling Tehachapi for ADHD, depression, anxiety, and more.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
27400 Oakflat Dr.
Tehachapi, CA 93561
(661) 972-5953

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