ADHD - Analogies From Life

I have always enjoyed relating symptoms and limitations associated with ADHD to real life examples. I will write about my favorites in this newsletter. Some of them I made up (at least I think I did "you know us ADHD types"), and others I have read elsewhere, or gotten from others.

Toy Top - ADHD peoples' brains work like a child's top. Most of us have a brain that are spinning too slowly and have a wobble. Some have bigger wobbles than others. Like the top, we can wander around life (like the top wanders around the table top). When given stimulant medication, the oxygenated blood supply to the frontal lobe of our brain increases and, like a top that has been sped up, our brains come into balance and spin efficiently and we calm down. It is a great analogy to show people why the seeming paradox of giving a hyperactive person a stimulant drug actually calms them down.
House on Fire - In order to find out about our ADHD we need to know the cause. This is done by educating ourselves. ADHD people are like a house on fire. We must put the fire out first before we can find the cause or help them. By taking medication it allows us to put out the fire, clear some smoke out of the way, and allow the investigation into how best to move forward to begin.
Car/Automobiles - ADHD people can have a NASCAR like car with high intelligence and all the extras, but if we have a problem with our brakes (ability to control impulses quickly) we can be like a high speed car out of control. We can have other problems such as faulty transmission, steering problems, or coolant loss. Whatever the problem is it can lead us to have problems in our lives.

Jigsaw Puzzle - Life for everyone is like putting a jigsaw puzzle of our lives together. "Normal" people, whatever that might mean, seem to be able to find the pieces and make great progress on their puzzles. ADHD people often struggle with our jigsaw puzzles. We try and force pieces into places where they don't belong. We get stuck trying to find a key piece and stall out or hit a wall. It seems like we may have gotten our puzzle from Goodwill or the Salvation Army second hand store, and there are pieces missing. Sometimes the diagnosis of ADHD is enough to get us moving forward. In my own situation, I think I was stuck at about 60% done with mine. I got diagnosed and was able, after several years, to get to about 90% done. I doubt I will make much more progress but that 30% increase was significant in my life.

Tornados (or for our unfortunate friends in Florida, hurricanes) - Tornados and Hurricanes have categories ranging from 1 (mild) to 5 (disastrous) to describe their intensity. I think ADHD has these same intensity. I know people with mild ADHD, which I might classify as level 1. They have some complications that I am not minimizing, but which are manageable. As we move up, we find more and more complications. I guess I consider myself to be a level 2 having met so many people with ADHD. If you are, or know a level 5 ADHD person, they can be scary. Some of them seem to lay waste to everything and everyone in their paths. At the same time, some of those level 5 people have obvious intelligence, gifts and likeable qualities, and your heart just has to go out to them that they can improve and have a better life.

Patrick J. Hurley

Author's Bio: 

17 Years as Lieutenant on Johnson County Sheriffs DepartmentIowa City, Iowa, 5 years as Adult Probation Officer, 7 yearsas facilitator for ADULT ADHD Support Group. 1 year as full time ADHD Life Skills Coach. Co- Author book to be released Fall 2004 "ADHD & The Criminal Justice System"