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Zebra Stripes for ADHD
A monthly newsletter of stories tips and news for those concerned with ADHD, Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, No. 11
Sarah Jane Keyser : ADHD Coach
Joey meets Eeyore, a Mustang with a difference
Joey ambled toward the water hole. A stranger was drinking. From the rear, as Joey approached,, it looked like a bright bay horse. Joey had seen horses before, but he had never had close contact with them. They were usually with people, and Joey and the other zebras kept well away from them. Today, Joey gave what he thought was a friendly snort of greeting. The animal swung around abruptly and charged Joey with his mouth open. Joey leapt back but he didn't' run, this was no lion. "Hey! What's your problem? I just wanted to say Hello" "You're too close," and the horse took another step toward Joey with his teeth bared. "Okay, okay. But you're new around here. You should know that this water hole is neutral ground for everybody. If you behave like that, you'll be in big trouble. Why don't you just say politely not to crowd you?" "Politely, politely. Nobody's polite to me. Biting is the only way I can make others understand" "Could you use your ears? All us zebras talk with our ears, and other horses I've met seem to understand- not that I've had much to do with them. Why do you let your ears flop down like that? They're weird!" "What's the matter with my ears?" The mustang again threatened Joey with his teeth. "Just look, there in the water. That's you. See how your ears hang down. That's me. Look at my ears. I point them forward to say "Look, there's something interesting there." I say " I don't like that" by flattening my ears back on my neck. Or I can swivel my ears this way and that to say that I'm worried but I'm not sure what's wrong." The horse stared at the image reflected in the still water and then looked at Joey. "Well, my ears don't work like that. I can't move them like you do." "Sure you can, just try." With that the mustang charged Joey again with teeth wide open to bite. "No I can't! Anyway, you're no prime specimen, yourself. How can you be a zebra; you haven't got stripes!" Joey laughed, "You're right, and having no stripes causes problems for me too. But I can see you have a really big problem if your ears don't work right. If you're going to be here for awhile, I'll show you around. My name is Joey. What's yours?" "They call me Eeyore."
Ear Talk and Body Talk
Eeyore really exists. I read about him in an article by Lee Faren in the February 2006 issue of Equus, www.Equusmagazine.com .
Born wild in central Oregon, he was noticeable as a young colt because of the way his ears hung down earning him the name Eeyore after the floppy-eared donkey in Winnie the Pooh. His early contacts with humans were peaceable. He showed none of the fear typical of wild animals, but he developed a habit of attacking domestic horses out on the trail. After he stampeded a group of cows through the camp site of some trekkers, he was captured to prevent serious accidents and adopted.
He settled into a domestic life as a saddle horse with amazing ease and is now helping in therapy classes for families of children with special needs. His story captivates kids who have problems and his patient and tolerant nature (toward people) helps kids to feel positive about themselves.
When I read the story about Eeyore- I went "Wow" what a metaphor for ADHD. A horse that doesn't understand horse talk. Isn't that just what happens with many people with ADHD, though not all.
I tried to imagine what had happened as Eeyore was growing up. I supposed that because he didn't "talk proper" with his ears, other horses were more aggressive with him. He might have just drifted down to be low horse in the herd (more like his namesake in Winnie the Pooh who complains of being ignored and unloved), instead because he was a tough little cookie he retaliated in kind.
With people, his dysfunctional ears didn't matter. He was able to respond to a different communication system. From people he found the affection and bonding that a horse normally finds from other horses. His adoptive Mom, a woman with experience with wild horses, says that she too had difficulty anticipating Eeyore's moods because she was used to "reading" horses ear talk, but she learned to see other signs on Eeyore.
Human beings have a vast vocabulary of words with which to communicate. But did you know that over 70% of a message is conveyed in body talk? And over 20% in the tone of voice? Less than 10% is in the actual words. Kids and adults with ADHD who have difficulty paying attention miss the subtle clues given in body language and voice tone, and because they don't learn them they don't use them.
Do you see the signs your listeners are sending you to say they have heard enough? Do you know what signs you are sending when you are insisting on your point of view? If a partner were to video you, what would you see? Would you say like one man I know, "I never want to behave like that again."
The best message you can send to anyone is a big warm smile.
Zebra Tips : Have a great laugh today.
Once, a mother lion observed one of her cubs chasing a hunter in circles around a tree. The mother lion exclaimed, 'How many times do I have to tell you not to play with your dinner?'
For more about me, Sarah Jane Keyser, About Sarah Jane
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