How a Person With ADHD Thinks? Seeing the World with a Unique Mindset

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo
May 21, 2024

What's it like to live and think when you have ADHD? Well, sometimes it feels like you've arrived from another galaxy. I always got the feeling that I was on a different wavelength than everyone else. Studying, communicating, and remembering things were all different from “normies”... Ring the bell? There are different kinds of people out there, it's okay. Is being ordinary really worth it?🙂

So, if you've been called an “IOEOTO” (“In One Ear and Out The Other"), a "daydreamer," or a "wildcard," congrats – you're part of the ADHD tribe.

Let's immerse ourselves in ADHD's unique world of thought.

[ADHD Thinking] Do People With ADHD Think a Different Way?

Quick answer: yes, they are. As a neurodevelopmental disorder, ADHD is likely brought on by differences in the brain that affect how a person thinks and perceives the world. [1]

Here's the scoop: some parts of the brain, such as the frontal lobe, are slow to develop. Thus, some children might have a slightly smaller frontal lobe compared to others their size. This part of the ADHD brain is like the one that handles complex thinking – it's all about organizing and planning, which, unsurprisingly, is going to be different for ADHDers in the future.

The dopamine deficit is another reason for diff ways of thinking. It plays a key role in attention, motivation, and reward. For instance, ADHDers tend to spend hours focused on one thing without realizing it and ignore everything else around them. This is probably different from neurotypical ppl, who have no problem setting priorities and completing tasks.
But seeing things another way doesn't mean you're wrong. It's a rather unique brain-wiring, unique way of thinking. Study shows ADHD people are less keen on figuring out the details of ideas, instead focusing on generating new ones. They'd instead develop the ideas themselves - a good example of an ADHD way of thinking. [2]

More examples would be nice, right? Let’s dive into the nifty world of how actually a person with ADHD thinks.

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[Fast Thinking] Fast and Furious Thinking

Have you ever come across someone who seems to be buzzing with energy, or maybe it's you, the one who is a “fast thinker”? If this is the case, it may be a hyperactive-impulsive ADHDer. It's a form of attention deficit disorder that helps things move really quickly but makes living difficult for those affected by it. They could have symptoms like difficulty sitting still, being antsy or fidgety, and talking more than others.

In truth, ADHDers tend to have weak impulse control because the neural pathways that should stop the urge are sluggish. It's for this reason that you can't always control your cravings. As a result, people with ADHD are more likely to do something and then regret it afterward. 

[Present-Focused Thinking] Present-Focused Thinking

Some of you with ADHD don’t have a reliable sense of time, so everything happens right now or not at all, right? Past, present, and future all mingle together instead of staying in their own lanes. And developing long-term goals can be qui-i-i-te challenging?

It's not that you just don't want to follow the rules; it's just that our brains are wired to jump between thoughts and ideas, which makes you feel somewhat of a non-linear thinker and time-blind.

[Absent-Minded Thinking] “Wait, What I Was Doing” Thinking

In the realm of ADHD, the concept of object permanence, the idea that objects exist even when they can't be seen, can sometimes play out in unexpected ways. For someone with ADHD, focusing on tasks, responsibilities, or personal items may not always maintain a steady presence in their minds. It's like the mental version of misplacing your keys and then forgetting where you put them. 

Important things might not hold a constant place in their thoughts, leading to moments of forgetfulness or the feeling of things slipping out of focus when not in direct sight. This can make planning and organization a bit like a game of hide-and-seek, where things come in and out of mental view.

[Intense Deep Thinking] Intense Deep Thinking

Ever get so into something that you forget the world around you? That's hyperfocus kicking in. ADHD brains can go all super-serious, focusing on one thing until it's done. Procrastination sometimes leads to it.

So, where a neurotypical person can willingly dive into a chore they need to do, ADHDer will send themselves into a rabbit hole of the most nutty YouTube videos each time they need to complete a tax form. 

[Daydreamer Mind] Daydreamer Mind 

When living with inattentive ADHD, you may find it difficult to pay attention or remain focused over a long period of time. You also may give the impression of being forgetful or disorganized or not doing things that take mental effort.

It seems that the blame for this is a brain area with a tricky function - the “frontal lobe.” This area controls concentration, learning, and memory. Probably, that’s why we can often forget things or don’t get things done.

But TBH, ADHDers don’t have problems with focus, actually. In reality, we find it hard to focus on things we don’t really care about 😎 (check about hyperfocus above). 

[Divergent Thinking] Divergent Thinking 

Picture this: your brain is like a fireworks show, exploding with a million ideas at once. That's divergent thinking in action. ADHD brains are fantastic at generating a truckload of creative solutions to problems. Also, research proved that ADHD is associated with divergent thinking as a result of a lack of control over thoughts [3]. 

Many renowned creative and famous people who have been suspected of having ADHD (artists, musicians, and writers) were using their boundless energy and distinct perspectives to create masterpieces since they were neurodivergent. 

[Associative Thinking] Associative Thinking 

Ever connect dots that others didn't even know existed? Welcome to the world of associative thinking. ADHD brains can make surprising and unexpected connections between ideas.

Say you're chatting about your favorite hobby, like painting. Your mind might jump to colors, then to the last art gallery visit, and suddenly, you're reminiscing about a buddy who also loves art. This awe ability to link thoughts that might seem unrelated at first is a superpower of ADHDers, too.

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[Conclusion] Let's Wrap it Up

For most adults with ADHD, being told they think differently feels natural to them. From parents to bosses, everyone has offered their opinion, saying, "You do not fit the mold, my friend. You need to follow the rules if you want to succeed."

In fact, it's true - ADHD thinking is more than just different. It's a whirlwind of creativity, focus on what matters, quick decision-making, and a masterful ability to connect the dots.

Join our lovely squads and tribes of like-minded folks, where you will never be judged for who you are. These are our supportive communities of ADHDers where we share laughs, goofs, and tips on how to stay on top of chores without stressing out. And share memes that are legit, duh. 

Remember, ADHD is as unique as a fingerprint. Fitting into molds is overrated 😏 Embrace your quirks, and celebrate what makes you YOU with the Numo ADHD app!


1.The Lancet Psychiatry. Subcortical brain volume differences in participants with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults: a cross-sectional mega-analysis
2.Personality and Individual Differences. Creative style and achievement in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder 
3. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Decreased Latent Inhibition Is Associated With Increased Creative Achievement in High-Functioning Individuals.
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