Is the "SQUIRREL!" Stereotype True?
One of my least favorite ADHD stereotypes is the “SQUIRREL!” one. We ADHDers don’t go around yelling, “SQUIRREL!” every time we see a squirrel. That’s not a thing.
I have despised that stereotype for years. Then, I found myself hiking with my older brother and sister in Arizona a couple of weeks ago. I have gone hiking in Arizona several times, but I don’t recall ever seeing a squirrel. On this particular occasion, however, I did see a squirrel. All of a sudden, I found myself saying, “Oh look! A squirrel!” I don’t know if my siblings heard me, but I was embarrassed. This was a stereotype I have attacked and have tried to destroy, yet there I was pointing out the presence of a squirrel.
The story does not end there, though. In my misery, I decided to share this story on r/adhd (a wonderful subreddit I will rave about in a future blog post). My fellow redditors helped me laugh at this story and realize that the “SQUIRREL!” stereotype is not entirely false. A few users shared how they point out squirrels, but many of them said they point different animals, mostly dogs. This made me examine my own behavior. For almost the entirety of my trip to Arizona, I had been pointing out every dog I see.
Was I doing so because I was away from my Alaskan klee kai puppy for the first time? Yes, but I also point out dogs basically every day of my life. One time, I was performing at a poetry reading, and during my set, I stopped in the middle of introducing one of my poems and said, “Oh look! A dog! Hi, bud,” because a man walked by with a dog.
The simple fact is we ADHDers are impulsive. That may manifest itself in blurting out comments. Yes, it could mean pointing out squirrels, dogs, or any cute animal. It could also mean calling your boss an idiotic baboon. Some impulsivity is harmless, like pointing out animals you see or buying your mother her favorite flowers. Other forms of impulsivity is harmful, like insulting someone without thinking or impulsive eating. Because of the dangerous side of impulsivity, it is a good idea to start cultivating an awareness of your impulsive behavior.