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Art and ADHD

Art and creative practices can be beneficial for people with ADHD. I’ve written before about how creativity is good for children, and this blog is looking specifically at how art can help those with ADHD.


ADHD is one of the commonly misunderstood conditions, and for this reason, it can seem like there’s an endless stream of bad advice and solutions that don’t take into account the actual lived experience of managing and thriving with it.


I don’t have the time — or the expertise — to get into all the details of it here, but at its core, ADHD is a condition that primarily affects executive function: the parts of the brain that regulate planning, organizing, and decision making.


This isn’t to say people with ADHD aren’t able to get things done! Simply that their process and way of thinking through things isn’t going to be the same as someone without the condition.


For me, that links strongly with one of the biggest takeaways from my art teaching in general, embracing the idea of finding something that works for you, and not being disheartened if more conventional methods fail. Art is all about finding your process!


Embrace Individuality


As I often tell my students, there is no right or wrong way to do art, it’s all about having fun and finding what makes sense for you. By embracing art and creativity, people with ADHD can free themselves from having to follow a set of guidelines and create their own structure.


This self-discovery won’t just be enjoyable, it can also help them better understand themselves and what works for them in all aspects of life.


The Chance To Explore


Whilst many people associate ADHD with an inability to focus or pay attention, this doesn’t entirely paint an accurate picture. For people with ADHD, the problem isn’t necessarily focusing, it’s focusing on one thing. They will often constantly generate new ideas and pieces of information from one starting point, and from there the problem becomes focusing down on one piece of information.


Art can be a way of embracing this wandering mind and providing an outlet for their many ideas and inspirations. Art is also a tremendously limitless world, there’s no one set of techniques or mediums a person has to stick to, meaning more freedom to explore.


Hyper focusing


It’s also important to note that ADHD is not homogenous. How it manifests will fluctuate from person to person, and one of the things that can be strongly present for some is hyper-focusing.


People with ADHD can often end up focusing solely on one task, forgetting and ignoring everything else. This ties back into the lack of regulation for executive function I mentioned earlier.


If this is something a person struggles with, one of the problems can be finding the right outlet for it, and in this case, art projects can be a healthy way of focusing in on something whilst also doing something fun, rewarding, and beneficial.


Benefits of Art for Children


For children with ADHD, their struggles can often stem not from the condition itself, but from the challenges of navigating traditional social and learning environments. This can cause frustration, difficulties with emotions and social skills, and a lack of self-confidence.


For these children, art can provide a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Providing them with a nonverbal outlet for communication

  • Building self-confidence and develop interpersonal skills

  • Encouraging self-awareness

  • Reducing stress

  • Activating different parts of the brain using creative expression

For me art isn’t just a huge part of my life — it’s something that I believe can be a genuine force for good in the world, and that’s why I’m delighted to still be offering zoom classes. If you’re interested, you can register here.


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© 2019 Sally-Ann Johns.