Research in ADHD almost exclusively focusses on negative aspects of ADHD. This study showed that people with ADHD also experience a broad range of positive aspects related to their ADHD. Lessa Schippers and Martine Hoogman, in collaboration with Impuls&Woortblind, the Dutch advocacy organisation for people with ADHD, set up a large qualitative study into positive aspects of ADHD. The results from this study, performed in the research group ‘Strengths, positive aspects and resilience factors in neurodevelopmental conditions’ led by Martine Hoogman(departments of Psychiatry and Human Genetics), were published in Frontiers of Psychiatry on 12 October 2022.
In the study, members of Impuls&Woortblind filled out an online questionnaire asking about positive and negative aspects of their ADHD. In total, participants mentioned 116 different positive aspects. The different aspects fell into five themes: Creativity, Being dynamic, Flexibility, Socio-affective skills and Higher-order cognitive skills. A focus group confirmed the results, and helped with interpretation. An important insight from the focus group, was that the positive aspects do not take away the negative aspects of ADHD. As researchers, we should create a better balance between the two sides to help people with ADHD as best as we can with our research. In September, this project won an Open Science award, which was focused on citizen science and was awarded by minister Robert Dijkgraaf.
Awareness about ADHD’s strengths can help people with ADHD and their environment to better cope with, accept or embrace their diagnosis and reduce stigma. Moreover, it paves the way for strength-based interventions. These interventions help people to discover and use their strengths in everyday life. This can help improve self-esteem, life satisfaction and quality of life. The next step in this research will be to quantitatively investigate strengths of ADHD to better understand these new phenotypes of ADHD.
Schippers, Lessa M., Lisa I. Horstman, Hans van de Velde, Rob Rodrigues Pereira, Janneke Zinkstok, Jeanette C. Mostert, Corina U. Greven, and Martine Hoogman. 2022. “A Qualitative and Quantitative Study of Self-Reported Positive Characteristics of Individuals with ADHD.” Frontiers in Psychiatry 13 (October). Frontiers Media S.A. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2022.922788.
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