ADHD Types: Tortoise or Hare?

adhd-typesDo you remember being read the many stories of Aesop’s Fables? One of the most well-known is that of The Tortoise and the Hare.

Using the two main characters in this story helps us to better understand the two main characteristic traits of people that suffer from ADHD. Which category do you or someone you know fit into? The Tortoise or the Hare?

What is the difference?  The speed in which our brains process information to respond to a direct question or task is a determining factor.

ADHD Types: Tortoise or Hare?

An example is that an ADHD Tortoise and ADHD Hare are asked to retrieve a single gallon of milk from the grocery store. An ADHD Hare would go to the store and pick up the first thing that says MILK on it and bring it back completing his task quickly. The ADHD Tortoise would go to the same store and stand in front of the milk cooler contemplating which MILK to pick up. Maybe the ADHD Tortoise would need to make a phone call to get more facts about said milk (not wanting to be wrong) or maybe they would forget about the milk altogether and wander the grocery store aimlessly.

Characteristics of the ADHD Hare includes:

  • Rushing through tasks, often making multiple mistakes
  • Racing thoughts
  • Does first thing that comes to mind

Characteristics of the ADHD Tortoise includes:

  • Long pauses when thinking
  • Often taking an almost over-exaggerated amount of time to finish a project
  • Attention to detail, perfectionist

How Does the Tortoise/Hare Hypothesis Relate to ADHD?

Often many children as well as adults with ADHD are highly intelligent but their brains process things differently from their non-ADHD counterparts. They are often easily distracted and often have problems with their personal “internal” clocks.

Often people with Tortoise tendencies are characterized as idle, unmotivated, or even uninterested due to the fact that it takes their brain longer to process information given them or they are in need of additional information. What Tortoises need is time. A few extra seconds, minutes maybe, to be able to make a choice or reach a reasonable solution to a problem. In school, these children often will not finish a timed test because of not wanting to rush through and be sure everything is correct.  But remove the time restraints and these children often score well above their peers.

A Hare will rush through the test without thinking much about the questions, resulting in many simple errors. Encouraging the Hare to slow down, breath and take their time is essential to mitigate their tendency to rush.

Knowing you or your loved one’s ADHD type (Hare or Tortoise) is important information in how to approach each circumstance, problem or decision.