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The Bright Side of ADHD

The 5th EUNETHYDIS International Conference on ADHD hosted their 2018 biennial meeting at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 23rd – 26th, with the aim of providing new insights on ADHD and associated conditions. Topics included late-onset ADHD, neurofeedback, pharmacological treatment outcomes, genetics and endophenotypes, early intervention and prevention, the overlap between ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and the bright side of ADHD.

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The latter topic was chaired by Dr. Rohde from the Department of Psychiatry at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. While most of the extant literature on ADHD has focused on the negative or impairing aspects associated with the disorder, new research suggests that ADHD symptoms may be beneficial in some situations. For example, studies have demonstrated positive associations between ADHD and resilience and well-being [1], as well as creativity [2], and the ability to hyperfocus [3]. Here, Dr. Rohde provided insights into the association between ADHD symptoms and entrepreneurship.

The aim of Dr. Rohde’s research was to investigate the relationship between ADHD symptoms and entrepreneurship and to evaluate whether entrepreneurial characteristics have a negative effect on functional impairments in individuals screening positive for ADHD. ADHD symptoms were assessed using the ADHD-Self Report Scale, while entrepreneurial profile was measured via the Individual Entrepreneurial Orientation (IEO) scale. ADHD-related impairments were evaluated using the Barkley Impairment Scale. In total, data from 259 self-identified entrepreneurs were examined, with the results demonstrating higher risk-taking scores in individuals screening positive for ADHD. Among the latter, entrepreneurial profile scores did not appear to be significantly related to impairment. Dr. Rohde concluded that while individuals who screened positive for ADHD presented entrepreneur-like characteristics such as high risk-taking behaviours, these characteristics did not appear to negatively impact their day-to-day lives.

Although this area of research is still in its infancy, the available literature presents ADHD in a different light – one in which ADHD symptoms may serve a benefit rather than a hindrance.

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  1. Wilmshurst, L., Peele, M., & Wilmshurst, L. (2011). Resilience and Well-being in College Students With and Without a Diagnosis of ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 15(1), 11-17. doi: 10.1177/1087054709347261 [RETURN]

  2. Boot, N., Nevicka, B., & Baas, M. (2017). Creativity in ADHD: Goal-Directed Motivation and Domain Specificity. Journal of Attention Disorders, 1–10. doi: 10.1177/1087054717727352 

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  3. Ozel-Kizil, E. T., Kokurcan, A., Aksoy, U. M., Biçer-Kanat, B., Sakarya, D., Bastug, G., … & Oncü, B. (2016). Hyperfocusing as a Dimension of Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 59(10), 351-358. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2016.09.016 

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