The Key Benefits of Mind Mapping for ADHD and Autism

Image of a brain in a lightbulb with the words The Key Benefits of Mind Mapping for ADHD and Autism Louisa van Vessem - Ingenious Corner

Whether you have ADHD or autism, your traits and behaviours are different from those who are neurotypical and how it presents is different for everyone, especially when it comes to organising our thoughts, managing tasks and staying focused.

The ADHD Brain

For those with ADHD, your mind is often filled with thoughts and ideas about what you could do and whilst this is awesome, it can also leave you with a sense of overwhelm, along with feeling scatterbrained. Trying to pull those thoughts and ideas into something which makes sense can feel like herding cats because no matter how hard you try, they always slip through your fingers. Whereas mind mapping can be the perfect solution for capturing and organising those thoughts and because it’s visual and allows those thoughts and ideas to roam, it can be easier to see how it all connects (the bigger picture). Suddenly, the chaos begins to make sense, and what once felt like a chaotic mess suddenly becomes calmer.

The Autistic Mind

For those who are autistic, the challenge is either struggling to get started or finding that you’re in hyperfocus mode. When you need to start but you’re feeling unmotivated or doing something new and overwhelm is kicking in, it can feel like no matter how hard you try, you’re not making any progress, alternatively, when hyperfocus kicks in, there’s no stopping you. This is where mind mapping can help, breaking things down into bite-size chunks using a mind map or emptying your mind of everything that is flowing through it.

How I Understand

Both me and my son are autistic. I only found out at the age of 43 but it explains so much and you can read about my story here. Although I don’t have ADHD, I have a good understanding/awareness of it because of my clients and friends of mine.

However, there’s a tool that’s free to use and I have found it works well for a lot of people with ADHD and/or autism and that’s mind mapping. Of course, it doesn’t work for everyone and there are lots of different ways of doing it but it can really help because it can give you clarity and direction. Personally, it’s made a huge difference for me and I use it in both a personal and professional capacity.

Understanding Mind Mapping

At the core of it, mind mapping is a visual tool that helps to organise information/thoughts in a structured and creative way. There are lots of different ways of creating mind maps but the diagram is useful for helping you connect the dots between your thoughts and ideas. Unlike traditional note taking, mind mapping encourages creative and nonlinear thinking, making it a great alternative for the way ADHD and autistic brains often work.

Ditching Overwhelm and Gaining Clarity

When people hear of mind mapping, they often think of using it to help them study or to help them at work as part of a team but it also helps with clearing your mind and acts as a great organising tool. One of the biggest benefits is its ability to cut through the overwhelm and bring clarity and direction to your thoughts and ideas. Getting those thoughts and ideas out of your head makes it easier to focus and prioritise what’s important and what’s noise, i.e. it has no relevance.

It’s also great for breaking down thoughts, ideas, projects and tasks into smaller, bite-sized chunks. Rather than feeling frustrated or unable to make sense of information, mind mapping can help you move forward and it’s more interesting to look at compared to reading lots of sentences. It also frees your mind and helps you think more creatively.

The Benefits of Mind Mapping for ADHD and Autism

To reiterate, although I think it’s a great tool, I know it doesn’t work for everyone, so let’s explore the benefits of mind mapping for ADHD and autism.

The Visual Design

Image shows a few mind maps

Whether you choose to create a mind map using tech or pens and paper, it looks more appealing than looking at sentences. Personally, I prefer to use plain paper and coloured pens because I find it helps free my mind. When I use tech, the perfectionist in me comes out resulting in procrastination and I deliberate for too long.

Some people prefer to create mind maps using images/doodles but it’s all about what works best for you and what you’re good at. Whilst I am a creative thinker, my art skills aren’t as good, so I stick with words.

I always try to use coloured pens because I find it easier to categorise my thoughts and ideas, or if I’m using it to create a plan or I need help prioritising projects/tasks, it also helps with that.

Empty Your Mind

If your mind feels as though it’s going to explode, sit down and start writing (or doodling) everything that is running through it. For example, start with a category on family and from there break it down into all the thoughts you’ve had, such as birthdays, meet-ups, etc.

If you look at the image under the Visual Design example above, you’ll see that it starts off with a category and from there, you can branch off.

Breaking Down Ideas

So you’ve had an idea and you’re feeling stuck. Creating a mind map can help with this.

Write the idea in the middle of the page and create branches off of it using the words, ‘Who’, ‘Where’, ‘What’, ‘When’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’.

Going through this process can be highly effective for figuring out the next steps and the feasibility of any idea.


Whether we love or hate structure, when you’ve got it, there’s no denying that in the right circumstances, it can make a huge difference. For those of us with ADHD and/or autistic brain, mind mapping can help to organise our thoughts and ideas, resulting in us calming the chaos.

If you don’t know where to start, get in touch to find out how I can help you. Email me at [email protected].

About Louisa van Vessem

Ingenious Corner - Louisa van Vessem in Black and White smiling

Hi there! I’m Louisa, and I work with people to help them succeed in a way that works for them.

As a Creative Business Mentor and Strategist, my goal is to give you ideas, clarity, direction, and accountability. I take the big picture as well as the details seriously – focusing on the result but also how you can get there, keeping things simple with fun thrown into the mix.

I love getting to know people who are ready to take action and make a difference. If this sounds like you, I’d love to hear from you! Let’s chat.

Let’s connect on social media

Don’t worry, I’m not spending lots of time on social media, I repurpose content across channels at different times.

LinkedIn | Instagram – Ingenious Corner | Instagram – InclUSion | TikTok – Ingenious Corner | TikTok – InclUSion | Pinterest | YouTube

You may also be interested in...