Black-tailed jackrabbitCreative Commons License Jack Wolf via Compfight

Imagine how excited I was when I first learned about the slow food movement. Being as slow in the kitchen as I’ve always been, I’d always thought I had a deficit. When all along, here I was, ahead of the pack.

Fast minds

While a lot of us with ADHD have racing thoughts (thus the title for a new book on ADHD adults, Fast Minds), there are areas where we’re actually slower than others.

Let’s take a few long, deep, slow breaths and explore some under-examined territory: when the hyperactive hare becomes the tedious tortoise.

Slow ADHD: the dark side

Some of my most embarrassing moments have happened when I’ve been slower than others.

Already slow in the kitchen, the added pressure of guests’ impending arrival derails me even further, and more often than not, my guests are ready to eat long before I’m ready to serve. It goes without saying that most of my slow cooking is for me.

I’ve bemoaned the pain of being a slow learner, and this is compounded by faulty motor skills. I once tried to imitate a card shark’s shuffle and the cards ended up dispersed into the room like a burst milkweed pod in a windstorm. I’ve given up playing cards partly because of the eye-rolling looks I got as a child whenever it was my turn to deal. I couldn’t.

Slow ADHD: the bright side

There are some positives to being slower than others. As always, it’s a matter of perspective.

When cooking from scratch, my time in the kitchen becomes a respite from my usual frenzied pace. My lack of manual dexterity forces me into mindfulness (which is another way of saying, if I don’t slow down, the end of my finger will either be lopped off or grated into the ratatouille).

Slow reading

Reading is essential in my work as a writer, so taking longer means I earn less.

Friends of Quinn’s founder Quinn Bradlee recently interviewed director Steven Spielberg. In his interview, Spielberg helped me to see the positive side of slow reading.

La Vanille Crocodile Farm Joachim S. Müller via Compfight

Diagnosed with dyslexia about five years ago, Spielberg says reading is crucial to his work as well.

According to Spielberg, it takes him nearly three hours to read what most would read in an hour or so. Coming from the famed and fabulously successful director of films like E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, The Color Purple, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, to name a few, that’s pretty startling.

Spielberg’s perspective, however, is as awe-inspiring as his success. Not only does he say he’s not ashamed of being a slow reader, he adds:

“Here’s a great thing also: I have great comprehension in what I read. Because I do read slowly, I retain almost everything I read. I don’t just skip over things.

And I’m able to appreciate the writing. I’m able to really kind of savor good writing because I really take my time going through a book or a script.”

I still love reading and always have, even if I have to read the same paragraph over 3 or 5 times. If I’m interested in the subject, that’s ok.

Slow drumming

It’s embarrassing to be left in the dust in a drum class. I’m not talking about my students, I’m talking about me. My students are shocked when I tell them how hard I had to work to learn the rhythms I’m teaching them – but it’s true.

Because I had to start slowly and methodically, and play for hours on end, I really appreciate that I can now play well with others.

Maybe my hard-won sense of accomplishment is something natural-born musicians will never know. When you have to fight for everything you’re good at, the victory is extra sweet.

The tortoise and the hare

Sometimes I’m the hyperactive hare, and sometimes I’m the tedious tortoise. I try to match my speed to the task, but it doesn’t always work out. And that’s okay. I can always take a pit stop and recalibrate.


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