One of our philosophies at Navigating ADHD is to always look at the “flip side” traits of ADHD. I was reminded of this recently while working with a wildly imaginative, bright young boy during an art therapy session.
The “flip side” trait he so creatively displayed was his unique way of problem solving. This issue that we were working on was to learn how to move past a frustrating situation, instead of getting stuck and lashing out. In our conversation about this particular situation (not being able to get past a video game level), I referred to Dr. Hallowell’s wonderful description of ADHD.
I explained to this boy that his brain moves fast like a race car and sometimes the reason he gets into trouble is that his “brakes” are more like bicycle brakes, instead of race car brakes. I further explained that when he gets so frustrated at things like video games, he can’t put his brain brakes on fast enough so he lashes out and it turns into a big melt-down.
We started to plan out our next art project, which is going to be a big paper mache brain, with roads that twist and turn all over it. This smart little seven-year-old looked at me as we were planning and said, “Well, if I have bicycle brakes, I just have to start stopping sooner so I can make these turns.” Amazing.
Our conversation flourished at this point to describe what could happen if he slowed down to make turns and different solutions he could try when he gets stuck in his frustration. Now, as the boy’s mom sees his frustration rising, she is going to remind him to put on his “brain brakes,” so he can make some turns and find solutions to his problems.