ADHD and the Squirrel Stereotype- Is It Worth Embracing?

Perhaps you’ve heard the “Oh look, a squirrel!” pun that has been around for a long time. Dug, the dog from the Pixar movie “Up” famously gets distracted by squirrels throughout the movie, representing how easily distracted he could be.

Dug the dog from the Pixar movie Up
Dug from Pixar’s Up (

The squirrel pun implies that people with ADHD are overly excitable, hyper, and easily distracted, as these are the symptoms that are most commonly associated with ADHD.

Of course, those who live with ADHD either by having it themselves or having friends or family who have it, will learn that there is more to ADHD than hyperactivity and being easily distracted- this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Some may present with just the inattentive presentation and not experience any form of hyperactivity or impulsivity, or the other way round. Perhaps they present with combined ADHD, and experience both presentations.
Symptoms of ADHD will also present differently from person to person even within their presentation categories.

Women and AFAB individuals will experience ADHD differently from men, especially during their monthly cycles, perimenopause, and menopause. Little boys will present differently from girls, and many with ADHD will have learned to mask their symptoms to blend in.

To sum it up- everyone will experience different ADHD symptoms, which is why different medications and doses will vary from person to person. It’s certainly not all about squirrels for everyone!

My Link to Squirrels and ADHD

My use of the term “squirrel” is more about my identification with my ADHD and embracing those very aspects that make up a part of my own identity. As you may have noticed, I have fully embraced the squirrel stereotype- it’s in the title of my blog, and even my logo is a little squirrel.

I live opposite a park that is heaving with squirrels, so I spend a lot of time watching them go about their day.

Sometimes I sit on a bench in the park with a bag of monkey nuts and feed any of the more brazen squirrels that approach me, and it brings me a lot of joy when they get brave enough to snatch the nut out of my hand, then dash to the nearest tree to cling to the trunk upside down, munching away.

Observing squirrel behaviour is one of my favourite distractions, and I could quite honestly say that I can identify with my little grey furry neighbours.

I find endearment in their erratic behaviour- dashing across the grass to bounce off the side of bins or trees parkour-style or spending ages standing upright on hind legs perfectly still, in a world of their own.
This is what happens quite often for me in my brain, either bouncing from thought to thought at lightning speed or just zoning out.

They even bury their treasure of nuts in my small garden plot outside my window, even though it’s unlikely they will even remember where they left them (not that this matters because all-year-round people will sit on the benches to feed them).
This reminds me so often of the number of items I put down and forget about.

For me, squirrels are furry and cute, but they can also be curious, unpredictable, funny, affectionate, and brave (snatching nuts out of your fingers)! These are qualities that I would like to think I may also possess (not the furry part).

My perspective on the whole squirrel stereotype is that I can’t help but want to embrace the squirrel (not literally, just the stereotype)!

ADHD Symptoms Can Make Life Extremely Difficult

Of course, distractibility, racing thoughts and struggles with object permanence are all ADHD traits that can make live extremely difficult.

It’s annoying when you put things down when you’re distracted and struggle to picture in your mind’s eye where you’ve left it.
It’s frustrating when you have a deadline and your brain decides it needs dopamine so you’re stuck in your own thoughts, or scrolling through TikTok.
It’s difficult when you need to give someone your entire focus the environment is too loud and makes focusing on their words almost impossible.

The way I have learned to try to cope with my ADHD is by naming my brain my “inner squirrel.”

By naming my brain, I am attempting to bring a touch of humour to my struggles- it’s my way of seeking control, and inner peace.

Final Thoughts

Of course, I understand that not everyone finds squirrels cute, and some may find the whole squirrel stereotype to be triggering, or even annoying. This will be based on their own experiences, and how people experience ADHD individually- not everyone is able to focus on the lighter side, especially when ADHD symptoms can be extremely difficult to live with.

Do you also embrace your “inner squirrel”, or do you find the squirrel stereotype to impact negatively on the ADHD community?

Thanks for reading! Please get in touch if you have any thoughts or comments on this topic.

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