ADHD Questions About Diagnosis, Medications, Doctor Disagreements & Helping Family Understand

ADHD Questions About Diagnosis, Medications, Doctor Disagreements & Helping Family Understand

What does it mean when you’re one symptom short of an ADHD diagnosis? Dr. H answers this and other listener questions including the difference between short-acting and long-acting medications, how to explain ADHD to family members, and what to do when your child doesn’t like their doctor.

Do you have a question for Dr. Hallowell that you’d like him to address in a future episode? Send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H 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.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

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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.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. I’ll be answering in today’s session your questions and responding to emails we’ve received recently from many of you. Remember, if you have a question you’d like me to answer, please, please, please send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] We love these Q and A sessions. Of course, we can’t have them without your questions. So off we go. Off we go to the races. Let’s get started. My wonderful producer, the inimitable Sarah Guertin is joining me now to read your questions to me, as well as your comments. And so let me ask Sarah, the wonderful, wonderful Sarah, who are we starting with today?

Sarah Guertin:
Hi, Ned. Today, we are starting with an email from a listener named Tim. Tim wrote to us in response to the episode we released about an ADHD diagnosis being good news, and he wrote: Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I haven’t technically received a diagnosis of ADHD, but the process wasn’t good news for me. After struggling and underperforming through grade school, community college, and university finally earning my bachelor’s degree six years after graduating high school, I finally had myself tested for ADHD when I was put on academic probation after my first semester in grad school. I was told that I was one self-reported symptom short of a diagnosis of ADHD. They found that I had a good IQ, but my working memory and processing speed scores were three standard deviations below my other scores. My university was unwilling to allow me any accommodations. And the representative told me that, “No one was going to feel sorry for me if I was able to get a bachelor’s degree.”

Sarah Guertin:
I later worked with a psychiatrist that allowed me to give ADHD medication a try, but they didn’t seem to help me. This was around 2003, and they had unpleasant side effects. A few years later, I tried treating my dysthymia pharmacologically, and that didn’t seem to help either. I’ve worked with a few different therapists over the years and have made only a little progress on that. I currently take dextroamphetamine because of daytime sleepiness associated with insomnia and sleep apnea that is not treated well by APAP/CPAP. The dextroamphetamine sort of helps the attention piece a little, but also makes me more distracted in other ways. Anyways, the point is that the news isn’t always good, but maybe that is just because I didn’t get a clear ADHD (VAST) diagnosis. Take care, Tim.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much, Tim. For people listening VAST is the term that John Ratey and I came up with in our new book for ADHD because ADHD itself is so inaccurate. VAST stands for Variable Attention Stimulus Trait. Tim, yes, what you suffered is not good news. What you’ve suffered is terrible news. It reflects both how difficult it can be to have ADHD or VAST, but also how hard it is to get competent help. I mean, the idea that you were one self-reported symptom short of a diagnosis is ridiculous. It’s like my friend and colleague, John Ratey, kids, “If you’re one symptom short of a diagnosis of depression what does that mean? You’re just miserable.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I mean, these diagnostic criteria are not supposed to be taken that literally so it’s hard and fast if you have five symptoms, you don’t have it. If you have six symptoms, you do. Technically, that’s the definition, but a true evaluation, a good evaluation is based on the totality of your presentation. What are you struggling with? And how long have you been struggling with it? And how intense is it? And these are not amenable to being so concrete that you say, “Well, you have five symptoms. You don’t have it. You have six symptoms. You do have it.” That’s just not right. You were suffering and you were not given any help. The idea that no one was going to feel sorry for me if I was able to get a bachelor’s degree that’s also absurd.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There are plenty of high achievers who have ADHD. I have any number of physicians in my practice. There is a Nobel Prize winner who has ADHD. You can be a CEO, a self-made millionaire, or billionaire, and have this condition. So the fact that you were able to get a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean you don’t have ADHD. Again, we’re dealing with misconceptions. It breaks my heart to see how hard you’ve been trying, which is also typical of folks who have ADHD, not getting the right help. In fact, getting wrong help. I don’t know about the medications that you were given, but if my guess is right you weren’t given the full range of possibilities vis-a-vis medication. Now, medication does not always work. It does work about 80% of the time and by work, I mean, you get target symptom improvement, improved efficiency, improved focus, improved performance with no side effects other than appetite suppression without weight loss.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In my own case, meds don’t work. I’m one of the 20% for whom meds don’t work, but I have found a medication that I like, namely, coffee. So I have my coffee every day, and that’s my version of stimulant medication. I think if you were to work with a psychiatrist who really understood the condition, and if you were given help beyond simply try this medication. If you were given some education, some coaching so you could have a fuller understanding of what your strengths and vulnerabilities are then you could maximize the strengths and minimize the vulnerabilities, but you need to find somebody who really gets this. I refer you to my book Delivered from Distraction. If you read that you’ll know enough to be able to actually teach whoever you go to see and you’ll know what the various meds are, but also what are the non-medication interventions that are available, and there are many of them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We’ve talked on this program before about the Zing program. And if you want to learn about that go to distraction.zingperformance.com, Z-I-N-G performance.com. And it’s just a series of physical exercises that stimulate the cerebellum, which in turn is connected to the frontal part of the brain where the action is in ADHD. My buddy, John Ratey, has written a whole book about how physical exercise, just exercise in general can help with ADHD. And we know also that meditation can help. I’m a big fan of promoting finding some creative outlet, something where you can use your imagination to create, build, or develop something. That’s something that the reason I write so many books. I’m starting my 21st book is not because I’m ambitious to write books it’s because if I don’t have a book going I get depressed. I need a creative outlet to keep me to keep me going.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, long-winded, but yes, this condition undealt with can be horrible, but if you find someone who can guide you to deal with it properly, you can tap into your superpower. You can tap into your unique talents, and your special abilities, which we all have. It can take some doing, some scratching, some probing, some trying, and failing to find what are your special talents and abilities. Tim, don’t give up. It’s not like people with ADD to give up, but I’m sorry you had that negative experience. I’m sorry you’ve had the bad news side of ADHD. Let’s see if you can get some help and get to the good news part of it. Thanks so much for writing in. Sarah, do we have another one?

Sarah Guertin:
We sure do. Actually, it ties into what you were just saying. This one is about changing careers from a listener named Sarah. She asks: Can you do a podcast about ADHD-ers who want to change fields or careers? I have tried to switch a few times with no success. I have never been “happy” in a job. I have an enormous amount of student debt to pay off, which weighs on me every single day of my life. I would like to find something I can be happy doing day in and day out. Like you, Dr. Hallowell, I’m a writer at heart and I am depressed when I don’t have a creative outlet. My husband has even said, “You are so much happier when you write.” With three school-aged kids it’s very hard to find the time for all the things to keep us healthy, exercise, cooking, et cetera, and sane. I’m not a novelist yet. How do you find the time?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Sarah, as one writer to another my heart goes out to you. I mean, you’ve got to make money, and it’s very hard to make money as a writer. So for now I would put the writing under the category of hobby, avocation. It’s probably not going to pay you what you need to make right off the bat. So you want to find a job that is at the intersection of three circles. One circle are things you really like to do. The other circle are things that you’re very good at doing. And the third circle are things that someone will pay you to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So where those three circles overlap, what I call your sweet spot, that’s where you ought to be spending as much of your time as you possibly can. Just sit down at the kitchen table with your husband because we’re not good self-observers. We so often sell ourselves short. Make a list. What do I like to do? And then another list. What am I good at doing? And see where those two lists over overlap. And then the third one. Okay, given these overlaps, which one of them will pay enough to make it worth my while, worth the time I put in? And I know you can find probably a few things in there where you can try to get a job in that overlap in your sweet spot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then for the writing, I would recommend you get it’s a very short book. I can’t remember the author’s name, but it’s This Year You Write Your Novel. It’s a very short book and it’s very practical. It’s written by a man who’s written 20 books so he knows what he’s talking about. I’m just going on my cell phone to see if I can find the actual … Here we go. This Year You Write Your Novel. Okay? The author is Walter Mosley, M-O-S-L-E-Y. It’s in paperback. It sells for $15.99. I can tell you it’s money well-spent for you. This Year You Write Your Novel.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Basically, what he recommends is that you write for an hour a day. Now you may not be able to find an hour a day. I think he’d approve if you put in a half an hour a day, but that’s how you do it. You find the time. You create the time. And then you protect that time religiously. And it gets so you really look forward to it. And even if you spent the half hour staring out the window, you’ve committed to doing it. Since you’re a writer at heart, I love your phrase, I’m a writer at heart and depressed when you don’t write, you got to write. Just don’t think that it’s going to pay your bills right off the bat. Now the day may come when it does pay your bills.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
One of the main reasons I went to medical school is I didn’t want to put all my financial eggs in the basket of becoming a successful writer. And it took me a while before my book started paying me, but now they do, and they’ve helped me put my kids through college. I’ve achieved my dream, but my primary job is being a doctor is helping people. I specialize as you know in this condition, ADHD, terrible name, but that’s what they call it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I hope this answer helps. Try to find a job that’s in your sweet spot, the overlap of what you’re good at, what you like to do, and what someone will pay you to do. And then have your writing. Don’t give up on it. Absolutely have it. Commit to it at least a half hour a day, ideally, an hour a day, and get Walter Mosley’s book This Year You Write Your Novel. I want you to come back to me, please. Let me know how you did with this. Congratulations, Sarah. Don’t give up on your dream. Okay. We’re going to pause for a little break right here to hear from one of our sponsors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
OmegaBrite, omegabritewellness.com has been a sponsor of this podcast for I don’t know how long. I invited them to join us because my wife, Sue, and I have taken their Omega-3 supplements for years and years and years. I’ve known Carol Locke, the woman who developed all the products for many years. She’s a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a superb physician, and incredibly careful with the products that her company creates. She has extremely high standards that are uncompromising. She’s also a really nice person. They’re a natural fit for the show because their products help with mood regulation, anxiety, as well as focus and attention, as well as being good for your entire body their powerful anti-inflammatory action. You can find all of their supplements online at omegabrite B-R-I-T-E wellness.com. That’s omegabritewellness.com. And Distraction listeners you can save 20% on your first order by entering the promo code Podcast2020. That’s Podcast2020. All right. Now, back to the show. All right, this next question comes from Kristen. Sarah, you want to read it?

Sarah Guertin:
Sure. She writes: Hi Dr. Hallowell. My son is moderately gifted, IQ approximately 135, so nothing profound. I would think he hits about six to seven check marks for inattentive ADHD. It does definitely affect him at home and at school. He gets pretty stressed about writing, prioritizing, organizing, planning, ignoring distractions, et cetera, but because he is gifted, he seems pretty average to the teachers. Just seems to “need a bit of help to stay on task.” He is going into grade five in Canada, but he does like school so that’s good. He does have some success there, thank goodness. He has accelerated by one grade for math.

Sarah Guertin:
At home, he has a hard time following more than two-step directions, forgets what he was going to do, avoids hard stuff, emotional regulation is difficult and can be quite extreme, et cetera. Basically, I am on the verge of considering medication. I will see how this year goes. I just wonder if these struggles are holding him back from his potential. Kristen notes that her son has had an assessment and that he scored well on all tests, including working memory, but he was in the clinical range for visual attention, and visual-motor processing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good job with that visual-motor pronunciation.

Sarah Guertin:
I looked it up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Visual-motor. Well, okay. Kristin, 135 is more than moderately gifted. “IQ approximately 135, so nothing profound.” That’s profound. 135 is real good and it’s certainly the top one or 2%, so I think he is indeed at least on the basis of IQ a gifted kid. You said in your letter, “Basically, I am on the verge of considering medication.” That makes it sound like it’s some kind of last-ditch intervention. Medication used properly is very safe and very effective. Putting it off it’s like saying, “Why don’t I do a year or two of squinting before I get eyeglasses?” Medication is proven to be effective in 80% of cases. Effective means you get results and you don’t have side effects. 20% it doesn’t work, but 80% is a pretty good batting average.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it makes no sense to defer hoping that the non-medication interventions will take care of it because the non-medication interventions become far more effective if the person is on medication that works. In other words, you can do all the coaching, and organizing, and planning that are part of the non-medication interventions far more effectively if you’re taking a medication that is helping you. So I would absolutely get my doctor to give my son a trial of Ritalin, or Adderall, whichever he or she likes to prescribe. Make the trial involved enough so you don’t just try one dose of one medication. You try various doses of one from the amphetamine category, and one from the methylphenidate category. The holding off on medication is real common. People have a tendency to think of it as an extreme intervention and it isn’t. It’s not surgery. It’s not last-ditch when all else has failed. Unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of people approach it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If they approached it more like, okay, let’s get the proven intervention, namely medication, and then do all the rest you’d get much better results with a lot less heartache and struggle. People talk about the side effects of medication, and all those side effects can be controlled simply by lowering the dose, changing the medication, or discontinuing it altogether, but what they really ought to talk about are the side effects of not taking the medication. Year after year after year of underachievement, of frustration, of knowing you could be doing better if only you could get the mental eyeglasses that medication can provide. I hope you’ll give that some thought. Please do get back to us. We love to get follow-up emails from these calls. Okay, Miss Sarah, do we have another one in our mailbag?

Sarah Guertin:
We certainly do. We have lots of parents this week. You can tell it’s back to school time, but this next email comes from Lisa, who is the mother of a 12-year-old girl in the seventh grade. Her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in the second grade, but didn’t start medication until fifth grade. She writes: Please share more on the psychiatry of ADHD medications, and interaction with the brain. My very specific question is about why a 10 milligram methylphenidate seems to be more effective than the fancy slow-release Concerta. What are the risks of me sending methylphenidate to school for my immature 12-year-old to take at lunch hour? (I heard kids sell them). Thank you again for all you do to help me learn to be the best mom I can for my challenging child. Lisa.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much, Lisa, for writing in. 12-year-girl in the seventh grade. You got the diagnosis in the second grade, but didn’t start medication until the fifth grade. That’s sort of in keeping with the previous call. There’s a tendency to put off starting medication, which again, I don’t think makes much sense. Everyone does it so don’t feel bad. Everyone thinks that medication is this last-ditch intervention, but it really isn’t. It’s a first-ditch intervention. At least I think it ought to be because there’s very little downside. The meds work right away, and if you don’t like what they do you stop it. That’s only common sense. And if you do like what it does, you say hooray, and you continue it. And that whole process can take a week. You can really find out pretty quickly if the meds are going to be helpful or not. Sometimes more than a week, maybe a month, but it is a process of trial and error.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, your specific question, why does 10 milligrams of methylphenidate seem more effective than Concerta, which is a slow-release medication? The short answer is we don’t know, but specifically with Concerta, it may very well be if you’re taking the generic Concerta that the osmotic pump, the generic manufacturer didn’t get it right. Concerta was the first long-acting medication we had. And when it went generic, all of a sudden people were saying, “My Concerta doesn’t work anymore.” And that’s because the osmotic pump, which was developed at MIT, and allowed for the medication to be slow-release, a lot of the generic manufacturers didn’t get it right. They didn’t know how to technologically reproduce the original Concerta so all of a sudden people were getting different generic formulations that suddenly didn’t work so that could be why.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now there are other slow-release forms of methylphenidate. There’s Ritalin LA, for example. LA stands for long-acting. And if you want a long-acting formulation, I would suggest giving that a try, or trying a different generic of Concerta, or trying brand name Concerta because there’s a distinct advantage to not having to bring your medication to school. Most schools will not allow kids to bring it in for one of the reasons being you already cited that some kids sell their medication. Some kids lose it. Some kids pass it around to friends just to see what it does. You know how kids are with experimentation. That’s dangerous. You don’t want to be doing that. So I would not have my son or daughter bring their medication in their pocket to school.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What schools do do is you can give it to the school nurse and she can dispense the medication. Now that’s inconvenient. The child has to go to the school nurse at recess, or lunchtime, and a lot of people don’t want to do that. So I think it’s worth it for you to hunt down a long-acting methylphenidate that does work. And don’t forget if you don’t find a methylphenidate, there’s always amphetamine, Adderall, or Vyvanse the long-acting version. Adderall XR, extended-release, or Vyvanse.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What can you do to be the best mom you can be? Learn all you can about ADHD. My most recent book is Delivered from Distraction. There’s a ton of information in there. Superparenting for ADD is another book that is worth it. And there are many others out there by many other authors. This field has become richly written about, which is great. And you might subscribe to the wonderful magazine ADDitude. That’s A-D-D-I-T-U-D-E. Terrific, terrific magazine full of really good articles every month that it comes out. I hope this answers your questions. I’m just looking back and trying to see. I think I addressed it, but the main thing you can do for your daughter is to love her, which you’re already doing. Sorry about that. My cell phone just went off. The producer always tells me to turn off my cell phone and, of course, I forget. And so then I will get my wrist slapped during the break for not turning off my cell phone.

Sarah Guertin:
Everyone knows your ringtone.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Anyway, I’m sorry for that interruption. There’s methylphenidate and there’s amphetamine. Those are the two molecules that comprise the bulk of the stimulant medications that we use to treat this condition. And it is a matter of trial and error. You can’t predict which one will work best for any given child, but it’s worth trying a few before you give up, different doses, and different formulations. As I said, the best thing you can do for her is love her, and you know that. Provide structure. Provide a routine. Provide what her brain usually doesn’t do so very easily.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And make her feel proud of having it. The more successes she experiences, the more she feels proud of having the imagination I’m pretty sure she’s got. Having the kind of spontaneity, the kind of humor, all her quirkiness make her feel proud of because she should be proud of it. We need this in today’s world. These are the people that make the changes that bring us what we’re hoping for. Anyway, Lisa, thanks so much for writing and please give us follow-up. We love hearing about what happens to the people that our listeners write in about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to tell you about Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont. It is the best college in the world for students who learn differently, with ADHD, for other learning differences, or autism spectrum disorder. It’s fully accredited not-for-profit offering bachelor’s and associate degrees, bridge programs, online dual-enrollment courses for high school students and summer programs. They use a strength-based model at Landmark, which as you know is the model that I certainly have developed and subscribe to, to give students the skills and strategies they need to achieve their goals in life and really expand upon what they believe they’re capable of doing. It is just a wonderful, wonderful place, and I can’t say enough good about it. I myself have an honorary degree from Landmark College of which I am very proud. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. To learn more, go to lcdistraction.org. That’s lcdistraction.org. Okay, let’s get back to today’s topic. So do we have another email?

Sarah Guertin:
We have a couple more here. This next one comes from Tricia and she writes: I enjoy listening to your podcast to help me learn more about how I can help my 11-year-old son use his ADHD superpowers. I have read your Driven to Distraction book as well. Where we struggle is explaining his brain to the grandparents that don’t see him on a day-to-day basis to know how to deal with, or understand his behaviors. They are used to the other grandkids that are very organized and even keel with their emotions. Do you know of a concise general resource that we could point them to so they can better understand and appreciate his unique brain?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, this is common. Grandparents, and people who didn’t grow up with ADD as part of the lexicon often get grumpy about it and say, “What is this nonsense? All he needs is more discipline.” And that’s simply wrong. It’s understandable because they don’t know what they don’t know, but they need to know what they need to know. Now it’s hard to educate your parents. As people get older and more fixed in their ways, they become less open to hearing the truth. So how do you present to them the truth? Sometimes you can’t do it as their child. So sometimes you rely on a book, and the book I would give them would be not Driven to Distraction, but Delivered from Distraction because it has newer stuff in it. The first chapter is called The Skinny: Read this if you can’t read the whole book, so get them to read the highlights.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, if they’re willing to listen to you, and if you’ve read it, just explain to them. Keep it simple. The analogy that I like best is the one that I use most often. Having this condition is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. It’s not hard to understand that analogy. You’ve got a powerful, powerful brain, a powerful imagination. Your challenge is in controlling it. It’s not easy to control the power of the brain that you’ve got so you need help in strengthening your brakes. That’s a pretty good analogy, and the grandparents should be able to understand that. And the way to strengthen your brakes is not to punish or shame the child. In fact, that’s the worst thing you can do, but to support and give structure.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And when they screw up, say “Your brakes failed you.” You see, because that’s not shaming. There’s no shame in my brakes failed me. It’s a mechanical problem. So I got to work on my brakes. Okay, now how do I do that? Well, I exercise. Maybe I take medication. Maybe I practice more. Maybe I work with a coach, or some teacher. Maybe I get extra help. Maybe I eat right, get enough sleep, not too many video games. These are all ways of strengthening my brakes. And if grandma and grandpa can reinforce that, then that’s so much better than undermining it with grumpy remarks about all he needs, or she needs is more discipline.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Telling someone with ADD to try harder, or get more discipline is about as helpful as telling someone who’s nearsighted to squint harder. It’s antediluvian. It misses the biological science, the point. And even though we live in an age that people are not always receptive to science, we ought to be because science means knowledge, and knowledge is powerful. Lack of knowledge on the other hand is hugely destructive. So try to go with knowledge and science, and try to help your parents help their grandchildren. Grandparents are the greatest blessing next to dogs God ever created. And so let your child’s grandparents live up to the blessing that they have to offer. Thanks so much for writing in.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. We have one more and it, too, is from a mom. Her name is Denise and she wrote: Good afternoon, Dr. Hallowell. I have enjoyed your books and podcasts for many years now as my husband and I are learning how to help our 13-year-old son with ADHD. My son has been under the care of a child/adolescent psychiatrist since he was nine years old when he was started on Concerta. In the recent 12 months, my son is not liking his doctor. My son describes him as confrontational, and he feels like the doctor is trying to make him mad, or put him down.

Sarah Guertin:
I have a professional relationship with the doctor and have subtly brought up the fact that my son does not like coming to see him recently in hopes that things would improve, but they have not. I would very much like my son to have someone he likes to talk to and can connect with, a physician, therapist, or social worker. These teen years are hard, and I know my son is frustrated with his ADHD. I’m writing to see if you know of any child/adolescent psychiatrists, or therapists in the Chicago area. With much gratitude for your work and positivity in the area of ADHD. Warmly, Denise.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Denise, it is very important that your son like his doctor. Everything will go better. The meds will work better. The interventions will work better. Your son will feel better about himself. And if he’s come to a point where it’s time to part ways with this doctor it doesn’t mean the doctor is bad it just means the chemistry. People leave me because they don’t like me. It happens to all of us. It doesn’t mean we’re bad doctors. We can’t be liked and appreciated by every single person who comes to see us. Just like you can’t like every food, or you can’t like every movie you see. There’s an element of chemistry in the doctor-patient relationship that you really need to respect.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The doctor won’t take it personally. If the doctor is being unpleasant to your son your doctor probably doesn’t like seeing him either. So if you leave him, he’ll probably be relieved. He probably knows that their relationship has gone a little bit sour. Again, no bad guy here. It just happens in doctor-patient relationships. It happens in clergy-parishioner relationships. It happens with merchants. You have a merchant that you’ve always liked and suddenly you’re not getting along with the merchant, or the plumber, or the gas station person. You have people that you’re working well with, and then you’re not. And rather than getting mad, and pushing forward move on. Fortunately, there are many doctors in the Chicago area. Plus your son will be relieved that you’re listening to him that you’re understanding what he’s saying and just say, “Well, this doctor helped us for a while. Now we’ll find another doctor who can meet you more on your terms and get along with.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I don’t have a specific referral in Chicago, but I can tell you the best psychiatrist in the world, in my opinion, is the head of child psychiatry at Northwestern. His name is John Walkup, like you walkup to a store. W-A-L-K-U-P. John Walkup. Now he won’t have time to see your son himself, but his office I’m sure could give you a referral either within their department, or somewhere. Just to have John Walkup’s name in your book of names, he is an amazingly wonderful child psychiatrist. He’s both an academic, but also just a wise, knowledgeable, commonsensical, down to earth human being. And since you’re in Chicago, I would try calling his office and seeing if you can get a referral, and explaining to your son, you respect what he’s saying, and you’re going to find him a new person because it’s important, not just for medication, but for understanding this condition as he continues to grow and develop. And, also, that you have an ally in the doctor that you can turn to and trust.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Like I say, I don’t treat disabilities. I help people unwrap their gifts. And in order to have someone unwrap your son’s gift, your son has to like that person, and believe in that person, and enjoy seeing that person, and laugh together, and be silly, or whatever your son’s stock-in-trade is. And they’re out there. A big city like Chicago there are plenty of clinicians. It’s not easy to find. You have to do some legwork, make some phone calls, but I’ve given you a starting point. Good luck in unwrapping your son’s gift.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you. Thank you, thank you for sending in those emails. Please keep sending them in. Send it to [email protected] You can send us an email, or record a voice memo. You can put a message on a carrier pigeon, but it’s got to come to [email protected] And I don’t think the carrier pigeon could get onto the internet. It’s a sad thing that we don’t have carrier pigeons anymore, or smoke signals, or any of those ways of communicating that we used to. I’m just saying that tongue-in-cheek. Of course, it’s a wonderful thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s going to do it for today, unless you want to send me a smoke signal to the contrary. Thank you so much to all of you who wrote to us. Really, we rely on your messages. Please keep them coming. It’s the way we exist is because of you, and without you we wouldn’t exist. Remember to like Distraction on social media. We’re trying to beef that up and be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen so you never miss one of our lovely episodes. And please let us know how we could make them even better. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is Scott Persson, the wonderful Scott Persson. And our producer is the also wonderful, talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

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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