The Blanket of ADHD

Nov. 6th, 2017

When my grandmother moved out of her house and into a smaller retirement residence she gave me all the yarn she couldn’t store. This was nearly 12 cubic feet of yarn of all different colours, thicknesses, and types. As I sorted it into colours for storage and organization, I discovered she had a habit of cutting small amounts off standard balls of yarn and rolling them into small balls. I have no idea why she did this and I may never find out. My only guess was it was to make the yarn easier to manage as she made small knit items and covered plastic canvas.

I tried to match up the little orphan balls with the parent skein but wasn’t always able to do this or even to find the larger ball from whence the tiny balls sprang. The upshot of all of this was a growing collection of very small amounts of myriad different yarn. Any sensible person would probably have thrown these useless scraps of yarn away. Not me, however. I decided to begin work on granny squares to see how many I could make and eventually produce a blanket. I figured that even if I didn’t have enough at first, the small cast-offs of other projects would add to the supply.

One of the great things about granny squares is that they are all mini projects in and of themselves. I get the satisfaction of finishing something every 15 to 20 minutes. This is very appealing to ADHD.

I realized today that this blanket I’ve produced (but will probably continue adding to as I create more granny squares) can be viewed as a metaphor for ADHD coaching. My clients come to me with a pile of mismatched and small balls of yarn that is their brain. They say “What can I possibly do with this? Everyone tells me it’s useless.” Well, luckily they don’t literally say this. Metaphorically, however, they find that their brain types are viewed in a certain light by a lot of “everyone else”. You get what I mean.

Together, we sit down and we first of all begin to untangle the knots, we figure out where one thread begins and another ends, and we generally examine what’s going on. It may not look like everyone else’s neat pile of perfectly rolled balls of colour-coordinated yarn, but we discover there are ways to use what the client already has. And it will probably look a lot more colourful than most!

Here’s the other thing: If I’d had say 5 balls of yarn of the same colour and made a blanket of a similar size, it would have taken considerably less time. Back and forth, row after ordered row of beige (it’s beige yarn in my head) crochet is way more efficient. And how boring is that? I had the fun of collecting it all, helping my grandmother with stuff she could no longer store or use, figuring out colour schemes for each square, then joining them in a chaotic and yet visually pleasing manner. I also had to weave in 3,456,897 tails of yarn, which wasn’t quite as fun, but it was still better than hours upon hours of beige crochet. (Ok, maybe I exaggerated the number of tails but it was so many tails...)

And often utilizing the strengths of the ADHD brain does take a lot longer than someone else doing an average job. This, however, is a reality that is somewhat easier to overcome than trying to reconcile, for example, that we are completely useless and have nothing of value to give to the world.

The bottom line is the world needs more crazy quilts because we have enough beige blankets.

What kind of design does your brain look like?