“What Happens When You Give a Tape Recorder to a Chatty Kid”

I’ve always been long-winded.

As a chatty kid, I saw myself (I’m embarrassed to say) in Donkey, the talkative motor-mouth and sometimes annoying character from Shrek who could not and would not shut up. I suppose the rest of my family and friends, to my chagrin, also saw the uncanny similarities between myself and that hyperactive little sidekick.

“Donkey, You Have the Right to Remain Silent. What You Lack Is the Capacity.”

Though I excelled in classes that relied heavily on participation and creative thinking, my enthusiasm – in the form of constant hand-raising and oversharing – wasn’t always appreciated. I still remember being absolutely mortified when a teacher I loved politely shushed me in front of the class and said, “Alright, too many side comments.”

Some of my classmates thought I talked and talked for attention. What they didn’t understand was that my oversharing and chattiness – symptoms of an overactive ADHD brain – felt compulsive more than anything. How else was I to release the overwhelming tsunami of thoughts that flooded my mind? I was brimming with ideas, stories, rants, and opinions about everything.

[Read: “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Talk Without Taking a Breath for Three Hours Straight”]

I did have one fan, my mom, who listened patiently and enthusiastically to whatever came out of my mouth. Or at least she tried to listen to it all. (At some point, she did need a bit of me-time.) She had the brilliant idea of buying me a tape recorder into which I could pour my stories, rants, and thoughts. Before I knew it, I had completely filled six tapes with audio. It was a gift that changed the course of my life.

An Outlet for Never-Ending Thoughts

Talking into a recorder absolutely served as a healthy outlet for my active mind, as my mom intended, but it became much more than that for me. It led to my next creative avenue: writing.

Recording my thoughts helped me organize, remember, and build upon them enough to put them down on paper. Those thoughts racing through my head became first place prizes in school writing competitions and, today, an average of 300 pages a year of journaling (no kidding!), published short stories, poems, articles, and even skits and scripts for stand-up comedy.

Turns out that there was nothing wrong with having a wild sea of thoughts raging inside of me. I wasn’t doomed to be annoying or overbearing, as I had feared. Through the right lens and care, I could make like an alchemist and turn each drop of the raging ocean into gold.

[Read: “I Never Shut Up. Exercise and Therapy Helped with That.”]

When my boyfriend recently asked me, “Where do you get all your ideas? Aren’t you worried that you’re going to run out?” I shrugged. “No, actually, I’m not worried about running out of thoughts,” I said, borrowing a line from Shrek. “It’s getting ‘em to shut up that’s the trick!”

Excessive Talking in Children with ADHD: Next Steps

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