From Our ADHD Archives: Productivity Tips to Get Stuff Done

From Our ADHD Archives: Productivity Tips to Get Stuff Done

Kristin Seymour accomplishes more in one day than most do in a week! And she might be the only person we know that travels with a cooler and ice packs in her car… just in case! This busy ADHDer (and previous Distraction guest) joins Dr. Hallowell to share her very best ideas for getting things done. The Clinical Nurse Specialist also shares some encouraging stories about some of the kids and adults she’s worked with to help accomplish their goals. Learn about incentives, buffers, prioritizing and more through the practical ideas and solutions Kristin offers up in this episode from our second season.

To learn more about Kristin or to get a copy of her book, The Fog Lifted, click HERE.

Do you agree with Dr. Hallowell? We want to hear from you! Reach out to us at [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Ned takes their supplements every day. Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their omega-3 supplements for many years and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com, and brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College, another institution that I have a warm personal relationship with, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Kristin Seymour:
The mind is a powerful thing. If you want it bad enough, you can do it. Medicated or not, you can do it, right, Ned? I mean, when you want it bad enough, you can accomplish it. If you set out little ways with lists, prioritization, incentives, and timelines, anyone can do anything.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to Distraction. Today, we have one of our favorite guests, Kristin Seymour, all the way from St. Louis. She is, in terms of credentials, a board-certified adult health clinical nurse specialist. She’s a nurse practitioner with a specialty in cardiology. She’s at the world-renowned Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, one of the absolutely top-rated hospitals in the world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She also happens to have ADHD. In her spare time. She works on ADHD. She’s authored a book about her own experience with ADHD, a wonderful book. I urge you to go buy it. It’s short, which is good for those of us who have ADHD. You can actually read it. It’s beautifully written, full of stories and anecdotes. It’s called The Fog Lifted, and it tells you how Kristin discovered the fog she’d been living in and how she came out of that fog and went on to excel.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s quite something to excel in cardiology. If you don’t know it, cardiology is like the toughest field in medicine. It’s a thrill a minute, a crisis a minute, and she’s able to do that, and then in her spare time, like on weekends and evenings, take care of the crises that arise in the lives of these kids, mostly who have ADHD. I’ve met some of them, and she’s really working with some of the really tough cases, kids who are coming out of terrible poverty and abuse. So, Kristin doesn’t just serve the easy cases. She serves the tough cases.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She’s really, no exaggeration, saving lives, changing lives. She’s one of these people who, honestly and truly, is on a mission. Much as her life was reclaimed and transformed by this diagnosis, she’s now going about doing that for a legion of people in St. Louis. The medical profession in that city swears by her. They all want their patients to see Kristin. She can’t take care of everybody, but if she had her way, she would.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She’s just one of those people who’s always busy. Whenever I call her, she says, “Wait a minute. I’ll call you right back.” She’s always in between doing things, and it seems like she’s never tired. And even though she’s always tired, she is able to keep it going like the EVEREADY Bunny.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She’s a remarkable woman, has two children herself, been married to a wonderful man for a very long time, and really one of the really good people in this world. It’s great to have her with us. I told her she could talk about pretty much anything she wanted. So, I will welcome her to Distraction. Kristin, take it away.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you, Ned. I don’t know if I’m worthy of all the kind words.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You certainly are.

Kristin Seymour:
But thank you very much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You certainly are.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you very much, and thanks for having me. The thing I thought was so funny is when you offered me open platform to discuss what I thought was important. I kind of reached out to some of the patients I work with and some of the mothers who have ADHD and those who don’t to find out what they’d be interested in hearing from me specifically, or me and you, and they all pretty much unanimously said the same topic. They said, “We all want to know, how is it that you get things done with pretty profound ADHD?”

Kristin Seymour:
Medicated or not, in my life, I’ve always been able to execute and task to completion. It’s not easy, but you learn to make it a habit. I had a very brilliant junior from Washington University, computer engineering student, in my office recently, and he said, “How do I just make myself do it? I look at all these things, and everything looks so insurmountable and overwhelming.”

Kristin Seymour:
As you and I both know, when things for people in general, but it’s particularly those with ADHD, see something that’s mentally exhausting or overwhelming, they procrastinate, avoid, completely blow it off until it’s too late, then end up doing poorly things, then they get behind the eight ball. And then this vicious cycle ensues, where you’re playing catch-up on a hamster wheel.

Kristin Seymour:
I explained to this young man that so much of it is, what do you want to get done? So you have to basically prioritize. And he said he had to get eight letters done with a résumé to send out to internships by Wednesday. And I said, “Okay. Well, let’s draft this cover letter. You just have to take one piece at a time. Don’t look at every other assignment you have to do by Wednesday. Just do this one.”

Kristin Seymour:
I always tell them to prioritize the most important tasks and timeline and put them down on paper. Whether it’s an old-fashioned list, putting it in a notes app on the phone or dictating it into your phone and then pasting it, whatever, you need to make a list because it feels so good when you can cross it off. Everybody agrees that accomplishing a task, whether it’s making your bed or finishing the letters, you feel great crossing it off. But the big-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s like losing a pound. It’s like if you’re trying to lose weight, each pound, you feel that much better.

Kristin Seymour:
Yes. Exactly. And as you-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I know that because I’m trying to lose weight. So yeah.

Kristin Seymour:
Right. But the biggest thing is, all of us are pleasers, and we all like to have rewards, right-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Kristin Seymour:
… because it’s a little dopamine release with a reward, correct?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Kristin Seymour:
So, I like to incentivize myself and my patients. I always tell them, “Incentivize yourself.” And this kid likes to go work out. He doesn’t have time. I said, “Well, get it done by 6:00 PM, and then go work out for an hour. Make time.”

Kristin Seymour:
The mind is a powerful thing. If you want it bad enough, you can do it. Medicated or not, you can do it, right, Ned? I mean, when you want it bad enough, you can accomplish it. If you set out little ways with lists, prioritization, incentives, and timelines, anyone can do anything.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely.

Kristin Seymour:
There’s really no excuse because you just can take little pieces of the pie and finish it off. Because when you take a little teeny piece and break it into small, manageable tasks, it’s nearly impossible to get it all done at once, those small segments don’t look so overwhelming, and then your anxiety goes down and you can do it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kristin Seymour:
Okay. The next thing is how I get it all done in a day. I always set an alarm, do a routine, even on the weekends. But things like just putting a cooler in the back of your car with ice packs, for especially the moms, when you’re running around, going to and from work or going to and from helping at the school, and you think of something on your mind kind of impulsively or instantly, and you want to run to the grocery and get it and stick it in that cooler and then keep going your way, you don’t have to detour back home and then waste time. I live by having a little cooler in the way back in my car with the ice packs in it because you get all these little things done throughout the day without having to waste time and space. Another thing-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. So it’s like you’ve got a refrigerator in your car.

Kristin Seymour:
Pretty much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow.

Kristin Seymour:
But it really saves time because if you can get to the gym a little bit early and there’s a grocery right in that strip mall, you can pop in there, get a few items. Then you’ve nailed two birds with one stone. You’ve worked out. You’ve gotten the groceries for the night. Go home, shower, go to work. It’s just so much easier when you can start to put interventions in place that will make life easier.

Kristin Seymour:
Life’s hard enough. We’re all busy. We’re all stressed. We’re all doing a lot of things. And people are like, “How do you do it?” I do it because I want to, first of all. Like you always say, get the job you love. Get the right job. I love what I do, love my kids. You always just have to prioritize. They’re always the most important. So, the clock stops at both jobs between 3:00 and 4:30 so I can get them off the bus, take care of my girls, and then I can go back to whatever I was doing.

Kristin Seymour:
People need to learn to prioritize what’s the most important and then take it off into little pieces. Eliminate, eliminate the stress that you’re able to. For me, social media was becoming a rabbit hole just going down a bad path. So, eliminating Facebook for a while, eliminating social media, for some of us, for a time, a little amount of time, is good. Then you can come back to it. It’s just sometimes it becomes one more thing to do, and you can eliminate it because it’s probably not the most important thing at the time. Does that make sense?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Total.

Kristin Seymour:
Another thing is, a lot of states are doing this-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If I could just stop you for one second-

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… because I want to do full justice to that because I think it is the single biggest time-waster. When people say I have more to do than time to do it, my word for it is screen-sucking. I say, “How much time do you give to screens?” Most people are just not aware of how much time. If you add it all up between email and Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and all of the different screen … the screen time, we’re mostly not aware of how much time we’re giving to screens. If you just go screen-free for even a part of a day, let alone a whole day, you’re going to have a lot more free time. And at first, you won’t know what to do with that time.

Kristin Seymour:
Right. Yeah, agreed, agreed. There is a platform for the promotions and the good things through social media and things like that, but I think, as you say, to just be cautioned about how much time you are on it and how it can be so addicting. I’ve seen your other pieces on that, and I think it’s really important because people need to get outside and play games, and play, and run, and do sports, and be active because it gives the same kind of dopamine feel-good release and gets your energy out there without having to sit there and worry about how many likes you have and if you’re liked or not based on amount of hearts. It’s just ridiculous.

Kristin Seymour:
And so, I thought role-modeling that for my own kids was a good idea, just showing them, “You don’t need this.” And then they don’t … Well, you got to kind of practice what you preach, if you will.

Kristin Seymour:
The other thing is, whether you have a housekeeper or not, or a helpful husband like I have, I have my girls pitch in, which helps also get things done during the day. Delegate, learn to say no. All these parents, a lot of these moms or dads see that they are … and they are so amazing and that they can do it the right way. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

Kristin Seymour:
So, sometimes I’ll be like, “Hey,” to my husband, “can you pick up the dog’s medicine?” or, “Can you get the girls today?” Delegate, learn to say no, build in buffers. Like on Late Start, I’m sick of trying to arrange that. So, I hired a high school girl to drive one girl in for Late Start. Parents need to learn how to just relax, know you’re doing the best you can, and that’s how you get it all done. You just have to put things in place that are going to help you be a success. Making lists and taking off little pieces, it’s huge. And by the way, the WashU student finished all eight letters and applications by Tuesday night.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow.

Kristin Seymour:
So he accomplished a goal in a matter of 48 hours of meeting together. He did one letter, I proofread it, he buffed up his résumé, and by Tuesday, he said, “I got them all in.” And what a great feeling.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But you didn’t put that on your list of suggestions, namely, work with someone like you.

Kristin Seymour:
No. Well, right. But I mean, just, he looked at me, and he said, “How can I just make myself do it? I keep looking at it.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But see, that’s not … You can’t. You got to work with a coach, work with Kristin.

Kristin Seymour:
That’s true. You do. You’re right. I mean, I guess I underestimate that role too much. But I think it’s very important because just saying, “Hey, that is a lot of work with your regular 14 credit hours, and you’re a brilliant young man.” Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure, and you’ve been sick, but let’s see how we can do this. What’s due first, second, third? And next thing you know, I got a text Friday saying, “I got everything in,” and he’s … It’s kind of a great little story because he said, “I couldn’t finish my entire exam because I was so sick and tired and behind the eight ball.”

Kristin Seymour:
I said, “Well, why didn’t you tell your teacher you were sick. Let’s shoot a quick email. He probably has no idea. You were flu-positive.” We did. The professor writes him back, says, “You know what? You have a 24-hour extension. I had no idea you were so ill over break.”

Kristin Seymour:
I think people just are so quick to give up sometimes, and I’m not saying he gave up, but they don’t realize you can think outside the box, and people want to help each other. And if they understand there’s a good reason that we can all work together, it just-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. When you’re doing it alone, you get overwhelmed.

Kristin Seymour:
Correct. You’re right. They don’t think outside the box, and you get overwhelmed. Exactly, Ned. That’s exactly right. And so, it’s good to … You’re right. You get overwhelmed. When you have someone there to help, you kind of think it through and kind of plan with, it’s a lot more … you feel not like you’re drowning. You feel supported. That’s a very good point. Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, Kristin, if you could hang on for just a moment while I tell our listeners about our sponsor, Landmark College.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
For over 25 years, the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training has provided cutting-edge relevant and practical professional learning to individuals in schools. Informed by current research and decades of classroom experience, the Institute is a leader in the fields of learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder, and this spring is no different.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The Institute has lined up a couple of great webinars for educators, including one available now called Destination Education: Supporting Students with Learning Differences in the College Search. In this presentation, Landmark College’s lead educational specialist, who also happens to be a former admissions officer, offers tips that educators can use to assist their students with learning differences as they face common college search obstacles. You can register for any of the Institute’s webinars by going to lcdistraction.org and then click on Research & Training.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, now back to Kristin Seymour.

Kristin Seymour:
I had a physician the other day, brilliant. He had so many thoughts on his mind, he didn’t know how to exercise documenting them. So, he dictated them while he was driving in the phone Notes app. And he’s like, “How do I get this to a document?” I said, “Just upload it in an email to yourself, copy and paste it to word, have it spell-checked and formatted, and you’ve got your outline for your paper.” There’s just all these shortcuts. And I-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So this is a physician.

Kristin Seymour:
That’s a physician who’s in a graduate program here in St. Louis. Yeah, he’s one of my patients’ parents.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Just to underline that for people listening, that this is not a problem that’s related to IQ or level of achievement. This is a problem that cuts across all levels of education, all levels of IQ, that is afflicting, I would say, everybody in the world today.

Kristin Seymour:
That’s a great point. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Everybody in the world today could benefit from just a few … like, just take it easy, how to do some shortcuts. ADHD, as you say, it’s across all types. And this patient’s … I believe you’ve spoken with him once. But anyway, his parents are both physicians, and they’re very bright. The dad I don’t believe has ADHD, but he was asking, he said, “Well, how do you get those thoughts out so quick?” And then because our minds are like, as you say, a Ferrari engine, and sometimes the thoughts are coming faster than you can write them down, especially if you’re maybe walking or-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Driving.

Kristin Seymour:
… driving. You can dictate, and it’s really … saves some time. And it also … some of your best ideas come when you’re stimulating your dopamine, exercising, walking, driving, listening to music. That’s why it’s just not convenient for a pen and paper. So, dictate, cut, and paste is a nice way that people can … “Hey, that’s awesome. I didn’t forget what I was going to say or do.”

Kristin Seymour:
Also, I always try to tell people what I do because I hate saying, “Oh, do this,” but if I know I can’t do it. I like to do things that are really truly reasonable and feasible because otherwise, you get frustrated and you’re like, “This isn’t going to work.” And then you get frustrated again.

Kristin Seymour:
So, I never quit. The sky is not falling. So many people freak out, if they don’t … and get behind on one assignment. That is the biggest mistake. Just chill out. The sky is not falling. Start up again tomorrow. Your professors are understanding. Teachers want to help you. You just don’t have to make excuses every time. But once in a blue moon, they want to help you too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right, right. So ask for help, I guess, would be another tip, huh?

Kristin Seymour:
Ask for help is huge. I mean, to have so many bright students, especially the high school, the college students, the young professionals, I think it’s okay to ask for help. None of us are in this alone. It’s kind of humbling. I think incentivizing yourself is huge, from the eight-year-old I work with … Oh, my gosh, he’s so precious. If you could get up and make your breakfast every day without whining to your mother, I think … I’m sorry, he’s 11 now.

Kristin Seymour:
He is going to go with me to Shake Shack on a Sunday and get a shake. That was his incentive for like a month of good behavior. Incentives are great because they’re rewards. It’s that dopamine, that reward pathway again, the positive reward. You don’t have to kiss their behinds for just doing their job and being a respectful young person. But when it’s something that’s a challenge for that child, like making breakfast, getting up on time, getting homework assignments done without mom nagging, those are all things that deserve a reward and recognition after a few weeks or a month because that’s really hard for kids with ADHD and can’t focus, much harder than the child who can.

Kristin Seymour:
Those are just more reasons how we all get it done. I incentivize myself to get stuff done and all the time because I don’t always want to do something, but you have to. I mean, if we all did what we wanted in life, gosh, we wouldn’t be very successful probably. We have to do certain things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). The thing about incentives, the more immediate they can be, the better. I mean, you brush your teeth to avoid getting cavities. That’s a long time away, but if you can have an immediate incentive, like your kid, so he can go work out, that tends to work a little bit better.

Kristin Seymour:
Right. I think even just something as simple as making the bed every morning, it’s so nice to see a clean and, you know-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Kristin Seymour:
… all put together, so when you come home from work or your day, it’s just, it’s clean, it’s put together, it’s one task accomplished, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, yes, yes. Same thing about cooking dinner. You end up with a dinner.

Kristin Seymour:
Right. And so, I think that this kid, when he was able to … I have another patient who just wanted to be able to go swing dance every Monday night, and he is hilarious, in college. And I said, “Well, if want to keep that up, we’ve got to get the stats going. So, let’s have this our goal be, by Sunday at 3:00, everything is done and checked.”

Kristin Seymour:
You’ve got to have that incentive, no matter what it is. It’s different for everybody, what makes you tick. But when you have someone to kind of help … I feel like I’m more of an accountability coach, more than anything, because they want to make … We’re all pleasers, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Kristin Seymour:
When we’re pleasers, we love making people happy, we love pleasing people, especially those with ADHD. They’re so sensitive, and they love to please their parents and teachers and friends. When they know they’re pleasing you, they feel good. So when they know that I’m not their mom or dad, but I’m also not their friend or peer, they’re like, “I want to make Miss Seymour happier,” or Kristin or whatever, “I’m going to do this.”

Kristin Seymour:
And then it becomes a habit. So after about three weeks or four weeks, some kids about six months, of working together, they’re like, “Oh, it’s ingrained. I did it so long trying to make her proud and myself proud, that now I only want to do it because I like it and it’s a habit.” So I’m kind of creating positive habits with the kids and adults.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But one of your great talents, and I think anyone listening who is a parent or a teacher or a coach, you want to cultivate this. I happen to know this because I know you, you have a great way of showing that you’re pleased. In other words, don’t just sort of say, “Oh, that’s nice.” I mean, you really say, “Wow!” I mean, anyone would want to please you because you really show you’re pleased, and you don’t fake it. You really mean it. You’re like, “Wow! That’s great!”

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, I really … Yeah, I celebrate it big time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You really get excited for them, not over just producing a good bowel movement. I mean, they’ve got to do something that matters. But if they do something that matters, you really get excited about it.

Kristin Seymour:
Right. Right. Especially if it’s something that was hard for that person or a challenge. I mean, this young man who I just met, his mom was really eager to get him in because we have to stay the semester. This kid showed up early to my office. We worked together. He completed it. He wrote me and said, “I’m going to go camping this weekend. I did all my work. I feel great.”

Kristin Seymour:
And I didn’t just write him. I called him, and I said, “I am so proud of you, you rock star. Look at this. You did everything and more than you wanted to do in one week. This should be celebrated. Enjoy your …” whatever. But yeah, I get really excited with them. I’m very proud of them because I know personally how hard it is to do what they’re doing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think that’s something that anybody who works with people who are having trouble making progress and whatnot, that they need to be aware that when they do make progress at something that is challenging, it’s important to get really excited the way you do, Kristin.

Kristin Seymour:
Well, thanks. Yeah, I agree with you. I even think even just getting help … I mean, I have a lot of moms I’m working with just coming in to say, “Hey, how do I get this done?” And I’m like, “I’m just proud of you for being here.” Sometimes making the call and getting yourself in to get someone and help guide you or understand your child better is hard. It’s not easy, and just coming to get help is a big deal.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What advice do you have for moms or dads or anyone who says, “Well, my son or daughter just won’t get help”?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, that’s tough. If they’re on meds, or they’re in sports, or they’re not medicated, or whatever the situation is, I usually tell the parent, if they have me mind me, just to at least come and see, and then they’d let the kid decide because what’s worth an hour of their life? I mean, it’s one hour, and then they can reward the … My office is over a cupcake place, and I did that on purpose. They could bribe the child, again, incentive.

Kristin Seymour:
So The child can come with their parent, and a lot of these, I would say about seven out of 10, probably didn’t want to excitedly come here, but they all leave wanting my cell phone number and not actually wanting to leave. I had one young man yesterday for three hours and 20 minutes in my office. [crosstalk 00:24:48] one-hour meeting.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s so symbolic that your office is over a cupcake place. That’s-

Kristin Seymour:
I did that on purpose, my friend. That was a complete strategy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That is so great. That is so great. I often say that any expert who says that you shouldn’t bribe children doesn’t have children. I mean, if it’s-

Kristin Seymour:
Oh, it’s all about threats and bribes, I’m just kidding, consequences and incentives because these kids … Think about how we … Or I try to think about how I used to be. I kind of tried myself and put myself in their position, and I think, “You know what? I didn’t probably want to be here at 9:00 on a Sunday morning.” And next thing you know, it’s like, I look at the kid and I’m like, well, this one’s 17, “This is probably the last place you want to be, but I want to help you, and I’m going to talk to you about a few ideas to get these grades up and make you feel more confident.” He didn’t want to leave. I had to literally take him out [inaudible 00:25:38].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You worked with yesterday for three hours. That’s-

Kristin Seymour:
17-year-old, yes. And then he texted me that night, and he goes, “Hey, thanks again.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Three hours on a Sunday afternoon-

Kristin Seymour:
Yes. I was only supposed to be with him for an hour. My husband’s like, “Hey, I got dinner. Are you coming home?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… with the 17-year-old, who at first didn’t want to come at all.

Kristin Seymour:
No, he didn’t, and he was so great. He’s already texted me today and said he’s going to do his flash cards during study hall, and he’s going to send me a picture of them because I’m going to prove to him … I said, “You have five days to do this my way, and if it doesn’t work and you don’t like it, then we’ll know we tried and we’ll do something else.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
See, Kristin, that’s just … You see, we have to do this again because you really have a secret sauce. I mean, this is solving a problem that I get asked about all the time by parents everywhere, “How do I motivate the kid who doesn’t want to do anything?” And so, you took a 17-year-old male, about the most difficult population you can imagine-

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. I’m talking like six feet tall, football player, lacrosse player, darling kid that did not really want to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, but who doesn’t seem darling to anyone else because he’s saying, “No, I don’t want any help,” and, “Get away from me,” and-

Kristin Seymour:
Pretty much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… and, “I’d rather sit in the basement and play video games.”

Kristin Seymour:
Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. And somehow or other-

Kristin Seymour:
By the way, the video game is one of his rewards, by the way. Funny you said that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. So he walks into your office and, basically, arms folded and says, “Okay, what are you going to do for me, bitch?” And you somehow keep him for three hours. That’s-

Kristin Seymour:
Well, I started packing up. He kept wanting to stay. And finally, I start doing my stuff. I’m like, “We got to cruise.” And so, he walked out to my car with me, and he was lovely, gave me his cell phone number. And I tell the parents. I screenshot our messages to parents. I like to keep them in the loop. And the children know that that’s the rule, just to give them a feel of how we discuss goals and objectives. And this young man wrote me last night and this morning, both, and said, “I will send you my pictures of my flash cards. Thank you again.” And I-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In 25 words or less, how did you engage him?

Kristin Seymour:
In how many words or less?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, take as many as you want.

Kristin Seymour:
I engaged him by relating to him and saying, “I know how much this is a struggle. But you know what? You don’t have a choice. You have to get through this class unless you want to spend the whole summer in summer school. So I want to help you do this, and that’s for …” And then he just looked up at me like, “Okay.”

Kristin Seymour:
And I’m like, “The last thing you need is another lecture or parent. You need someone to help advise you and guide you. So here’s what I want to try to do with you. You’re not an audio learner. You’re visual. You’ve already told me that. So, let’s figure out a way to implement and commit these terms to memory for this class. I want you to try these colored flashcards and colored gel pens because they stimulate dopamine. They stimulate your brain to feel happy when you use these.”

Kristin Seymour:
And they did. And he’s like, “Wow.” He took them home. I always have stuff stocked here just so they can start right away. And then he just started saying, he goes, “I’ve been to a lot of therapists over the years, and I sit there and tell them what they want to hear. But I really felt good today. I thank you.” And then his dad called later and said, “I’ve never heard him sound so peaceful.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow.

Kristin Seymour:
And that was the … And I’m like, “Usually, people who are done with me need a nap, but that’s good.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s good, yes.

Kristin Seymour:
He laughed, and he said, “My son was revived. He Just felt calm and was so happy.” So it was a good day. It was actually a great day. I worked hard, but it was worth it just for one more kid to feel comfortable and confident.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I know you have another place to get to, and I’m going to let you go. But you really are the Pied Piper. You really are amazing, whether it’s working with difficult parents or difficult children, you can engage just about anybody. And I think-

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you. Well, I learned for the best, I mean, you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, no, you learn from yourself and your own experience where you were in a fog, and then you wrote about it, how the fog lifted.

Kristin Seymour:
Truly, yeah. And I had great parents. I mean, they were really wonderful and instrumental. They weren’t perfect, but they sure did a heck of a good job, I think. And I then became out to say, “You know what? I don’t care what people think.” I put it out there about my struggles, and I just want to help people, as you say, burn, I burned, so they don’t suffer like I did. But you have taught me so much in [crosstalk 00:30:00] too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you come up with these great ideas, like keeping ice packs in the back of your car. So you’ve got a traveling refrigerator.

Kristin Seymour:
It doesn’t have beer or wine in it, folks. Everybody always asks me if that’s what’s in there. I’m like, “No, friends. I wish. That’s for tailgate season. Okay?” But anyway, you’re the best. Thank you for everything. You have really taught me so much too, though, to implement with this.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Kristin, it goes both ways. You’ve taught me so much, and we’ll have you again. I love the idea of, you’ve got a 17-year-old male who doesn’t want to talk to anyone, and he ends up spending three hours, and goes home, and has to take a nap. That’s fantastic.

Kristin Seymour:
Oh, he’s awesome. It was a great day. But you guys are great. Thanks for everything. You have a super rest of the day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you.

Kristin Seymour:
I look forward to talking with you all again soon.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Take care.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thanks so much for joining me again on Distraction, Kristin. You really are remarkable. I hope her energy and imagination came through. I mean, what she’s doing, thinking on our feet, using her intuition and her experience, she really is engaging with the most difficult groups of people I know because she talks to me about them all the time. She can engage with anyone. I mean, if you can take a 17-year-old male with ADD who doesn’t want to talk to anybody and have him stay with you for three hours on a Sunday afternoon, believe me, that’s about as tough as it gets, short of someone who’s actively on drugs, in which case, there’s no point in trying because you have to wait for them to get sober. She’s really remarkable.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you’d like to learn more about Kristin or get a copy of her book, The Fog Lifted, go to adhdfoglifted.com or click on the link episode description in the podcast. If you like what you’re hearing here, remember to subscribe to the show so you don’t miss an episode. We’d love for you to give us a review on Apple Podcasts as well. That really helps the show. So, just go to Apple Podcasts and review us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Also, please send us questions or show ideas to [email protected], that’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is produced by Collisions, the podcast division of CRN International. Collisions, podcasts for curious people. Our producer is Sarah Guertin, and our audio engineers are Scott Persson and Greg Session.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at OmegaBrite, and that’s B-R-I-T-E, wellness.com.

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