The ADHD Brain Explained Through Escape Rooms

Some times it's tough to explain to someone who doesn't have an ADHD brain what it's like to have an ADHD brain. One example I've used is escape rooms. The object of an escape room is usually to get out. To get out, you must solve problems or puzzles to ultimately discover a key or code that allows you to escape the room and win the game.

When you play an escape room, there are two primary types of game design; linear and web. In a linear game, you must solve on puzzle before moving onto the next. The only available information pertains to the task at hand and anything else in the room is irrelevant for the task at hand. In a web design, the puzzles can, for the most part, be solved in any order and you must search the room for any information that seems to connect to a particular puzzle. If you get stuck, you can work on another puzzle. All information is potentially relevant.

The neurotypical brain operates much like a linear game. It focuses on the task at hand until it is completed (or timed out) before moving onto the next task. Any information not directly related to the task at hand becomes irrelevant. The ADHD brain works more like a web designed game. ALL information is potentially relevant to the task at hand. If the ADHD brain becomes bored with the task, it explores the available information to add to the task at hand or work on a different task. This is often described as being distracted, but it is more accurate to say that the ADHD brain is attributing relevance to everything in it's environment.

Using this imagery can be a way to help others understand the ADHD brain as well as provide a visualization for self-compassion when you find your mind engaged in more than the present task.

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