Turning Tragedy Into a Catalyst for Connection

Turning Tragedy Into a Catalyst for Connection

Dr. Hallowell once thought about practicing medicine on a hippie commune! What??? This surprising detail about our host emerges as he reflects on the past and shares his hope for the future, as it relates to Black Lives Matter and the global pandemic.

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Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com/podcast.

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

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


 

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. As usual, we’re releasing one episode a week related to events going on in the world. Last week, I talked about George Floyd and what I’d learned from all of that. And today, I’d like to make a comparison. I was in high school and college in the late sixties and early seventies, and it was a very important time for those of us who came of age in that era. We had the horror and injustice of the Vietnam War, which took the lives of many of us. But simultaneously, we had the burst of hope that is caricaturized these days with hippies, and the age of Aquarius, and all that.

But it, in fact, went much deeper. We were literally believing that we could create a new world, summed up in John Lennon’s song, Imagine. The Beatles in many ways epitomized the spirit of that era, the spirit of imagination, and playfulness, and hope, and love being the universal value. And it really captured my imagination and the imagination of many of us. In fact, the reason I went into medicine, as opposed to the more logical way of making a living for me, which would have been to become an attorney or go to business school, was because I wanted to help people, literally. I know that sounds corny, but that was the zeitgeists that we were all caught up in. Love, reach out, help build communities. And although I wasn’t a hippie, at one point, I thought, “Well, I could go be a doctor on a commune.”

Now, it didn’t turn out that way at all, but there was tremendous hope and naive, no doubt, but it was really heartfelt hope. And it all fizzled, but that fervency has always stayed with me, driving me. Connection is indeed continues to be my chief value. My chief recommendation is to connect, to love, to build bridges, to come closer together. And how I think it relates to what we’re seeing now is we’ve been put through a major test with the COVID epidemic and then the George Floyd tragedy. And much as Vietnam set us off protesting, this has also set us off protesting. But I’m hoping, and I’m actually believing, it well may usher in an era of connection, of coming together, of community, of finding and building bridges, of finding ways of commonality, of stopping pigeonholing people, as you know, it’s a red or blue state, or this candidate or that candidate, taking us beyond soundbites and actually getting to know one another. Because the more we get to know one another, the more we’ll find that we have in common. The more we get to know one another, the more these political differences won’t matter.

I always think of, in my generation, John Kenneth Galbraith and William F. Buckley who were at opposite ends of the political spectrum, absolutely opposite, were very close friends. They would rip each other to pieces in a debate, and then they’d go out and have a few beers together. And more recently, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Scalia who were again at opposite ends, but were close friends, would go to the opera together.

That’s the model that I would love to see us take this trial that we’re going through, and turn the tremendous tragedy of all of the people who’ve died due to COVID, and the single tragedy of George Floyd, and turn those events into a catalyst for harmony, a catalyst for coming together, a catalyst for putting down our cudgels, and our weapons, and our insults, and our demonizing of the other side, and saying, “You know, we have so much more in common than we have in difference. Let’s band together and do what the Congress doesn’t seem to be able to do and create policies of unification, of discussion, of sharing rather than policies of condemnation and separation.” I really think it could happen. Much as I caught the fever back in the sixties and seventies, I think our young people are catching it now. I hope so.

Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction. Before I go, I do need to thank our sponsor. Otherwise, we couldn’t be on the air. Our wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. It’s formulated by Dr. Carol Locke of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. I myself have been taking their CBD supplement for about two months now, and I highly recommended. It helps me with my irritability. I can be pretty grumpy. OmegaBrite CBD is safe. Third-party tested, and best of all, it works. Get OmegaBrite CBD online omegabritewellness.com.

That’s it for today. Please reach out to us with your questions and show ideas. We love hearing from you. Love, love, love. Write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the lovely, and talented, and graceful Sarah Guertin .and our recording engineer and editor is the ballerina-esque Pat Keogh.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online omegabritewellness.com.

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One Mom’s 17 Year Journey to Find the Right Treatment

One Mom’s 17 Year Journey to Find the Right Treatment

Marla and her husband have been searching for nearly two decades to find the right treatment plan for their autistic son. After many years of countless therapies that didn’t work, a spontaneous friendship turns out to be a key player in the dramatic transformation of her son.

Full Disclosure: We found Marla, heard in this episode, through our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. However Marla’s story is her own. We did not send her any questions in advance and the conversation heard here is a spontaneous one.

Share your thoughts with us. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com/podcast.

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD. Safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

It really is beautiful to see finally, after a 17 year journey with my son, to finally hit something that has made such a transformation in our lives for all of us that we can all just breathe out now and be like “Finally, finally,” and it’s beautiful because he can express now himself where he didn’t have that ability to express themselves. Now, he’s nonstop.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction. We have a wonderfully interesting guest today, a woman from California. She’s clearly a wealth of energy, intelligence, ideas, and creativity, so I will welcome to the show Marla Roque-Wylie. Did I pronounce that properly?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

You did. One of the first.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. Let me let you lead the way and tell me the journey with your first child.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

My son was born in 2003 and I had him at the Portland Hospital in London, and when he was born, as a mother, I just had an intuition, I knew something wasn’t right. It led to this journey five months after that, they were saying there were something wrong, they couldn’t quite pinpoint it, and I said, “Oh, you know what? I don’t like being in a foreign country. I want to go back to my roots, go back to California and work with the doctors in California and just an infrastructure that I know well because the NHS is quite tricky and hard to decipher and navigate,”” so I went back home.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How could you tell right away that something was up?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

It was like having baby Yoda. Children are supposed to cry, children are posed to be difficult in the first 12 months, right? This child didn’t cry, this child didn’t have the normal traits and features that you would have of what would be considered a typical child. He wasn’t hitting the markers, he wasn’t cooing and awing, he wasn’t walking or sitting up, all those things, they weren’t there.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How old was he when you came back to the States?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

When I came back to the States, he was already two and a half years old by the time we got here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You went to California.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Meanwhile, you had retired from a very successful career.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct. I had retired, I had had a wonderful career in the fashion entertainment industry, singing-songwriting, and in the fashion industry and then in the restaurant industry, and so definitely busy, never slept, enjoyed my life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You were married to a man who… What was his business?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I was married to a man who was racing motorcycles, quit that and became a contractor and started doing custom cabinets and building homes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Is he still doing that?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes, he is.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’ll bet both of you have ADHD. Anyone who rides motorcycles and becomes an entrepreneur, that’s a very special relationship you have.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We complement each other on that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Marla, you know that you’re singing my song. This is what ADHD is all about, the positive and the negative. So here you are with a two and a half year old little boy, and what happens?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Immediately, a friend of ours suggested that we see our local, what they call the regional center, and so they come into your home and then they do a series of tests that they run on the child, and then that’s when they sat me down and said “Listen, we believe that your child has autism, has ADD, perhaps ADHD, we’re not sure yet,” but they put us immediately on a 40 hour a week therapy where he was getting speech therapy, they were working with him every day to help him with his gross motor skills, his fine motor skills, and just helping him to learn to speak.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This is starting at age two and a half.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Where did you find this help?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I found this help from a gentleman whose brother actually has down syndrome and was familiar with the system in California, and he was the one who pointed us in that direction, because had he not, I would have never known what to do or where to go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sounds like he steered you in a good direction.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Absolutely. I’m a true believer of people come in at the right time and I’m so grateful for that because that human connection, to be able to just have someone say “I have a brother who has down syndrome and he’s the poster child for kids with down syndrome. This kid has come so far. You should try what my mother did.” Of course I wasn’t going to say no to that option.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Of course. So take us along. What happened?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We went through many years. I have to say Irvine has a phenomenal program where they have early intervention and my son was placed in the program and they worked with him starting from the age of three and there was a schooling that he went to, but as I soon discovered as he was moving up in his age, autism isn’t the same across the board meaning that you can’t treat every child the same because everybody’s spectrum disorder differs in some way, shape or form, and so what happened instead of us seeing progress in our child, we saw him regressing to the worst of his class, meaning whoever was the lowest of his class, he would then distribute traits of that child, and that’s when concern went into our minds for my husband and I saying “Are we really doing the best thing for him?”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Teachers would always say “We can’t work with this child. He’s not there, he’s not focused. We can’t even get him to just have eye contact,” and they recommended the typical drugs, like Ritalin to calm him down or Adderall, and that’s when we really saw our son start going off the deep end. And when I say deep end, he would always complain about voices in his head or a buzz while he was taking these form of medication.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How old was he then?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

At this point, he was in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So he was like 10, 11, 12?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct, yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s when you tried him on stimulant medication?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It just caused a lot of side effects.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Major side effects. We didn’t even recognize who our son was anymore.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Why did you keep him on the meds for that long?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We kept him on the meds for that long because as parents, you’re not well informed, you don’t know. You don’t get a manual. No one hands you a manual and say “This is how you live with a child who has ADD or autism” or whatever label they’ve put on your child. As parents, you go into this survivor mode. “How am I going to save my child and how do I give him the best future possible?” So you trust the individuals around you and the individuals around us were promoting and pushing from teachers to doctors that this was the key secret to saving our child, to getting our child on the right track, so we didn’t think to think otherwise.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You were told that these medications which were causing terrible side effects, rendering your child into someone you didn’t even recognize, the experts were still telling you to keep giving the medication?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So what had happened is at one point, my husband who as a child was on Ritalin, he said, “I stopped taking them because I had the same feelings that our son is having. I just pretended when I go to the office every day, I was taking them, but I wasn’t,” and he goes, “And I did so much better, but nobody knew,” and so that’s when we made the decision that even though time has advanced and we thought, “Oh, maybe the medication’s better now, today, I don’t know if they added something extra to it,” we decided that’s it, we’re done. We’re closing the whole system down, and that’s when we decided that we had to try something else, something more holistic.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So this was five years ago.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

If I can put that into perspective for listeners, Marla got terrible medical advice. As someone who’s been treating ADHD for 40 years and using medication, when the meds work, they’re wonderful. They’re a godsend. They operate like eyeglasses. They help you focus, they help you gain control over impulses, they’re wonderfully symptomatic treatment. They don’t get at the underlying cause, but like eyeglasses, they do provide really good symptomatic treatment. But when they don’t work, they either do nothing or they cause, which happened to Marla’s son, various side effects, and the obvious thing to do when that happens is to stop the medication. So the doctors should have said to Marla and her husband, of course, stop these meds. They’re producing terrible side effects. Instead, they told her to push on which is crazy. I mean it just flies in the face of common sense, but she’s quite right. People tend to trust the doctors and do what they’re told to do, it was just obviously bad advice, and that’s what gives medication a bad name.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So if you’re listening and say “Well, I’ll never go near medication,” don’t take that, that’s not the lesson here. The lesson here is to see a doctor who knows what he or she is doing and get the benefit of medication if you can but absolutely do not take it if it causes any side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss, which usually usually does happen. I’m really sorry you had three years of seeing your son turned into someone that he’s not. How did you get the courage to just say “We’re done with this” even though doctors were telling you to continue to give the meds?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Because my husband and I sat down and we said to ourselves, we’ve exhausted our finances in trying to do everything. We were out there, we tried everything, brainwave activity, any new thing that would come up for autism, we say “Okay, we got to give that a try. Let’s save our money and we’re going to put our son here. We’re going to do this,” and it got to a point where our bank account was dwindling and we were frustrated and our child was frustrated, and of course I had my second child and that was a handful at the same time. You’re dealing with one child who has “A condition” as they call it, and then you have another child who you don’t want them on the same path and you’re almost living in fear but you want something new for them.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We could see that our daughter was hitting all her markers, it wasn’t the same as her brother, and so when she came to that age as she got older, she was a huge pivotal change for us in that she was working with her brother without even knowing it. Does that make sense? Because she would talk to him and there was what I think was the missing denominator is that human contact, that someone that’s on the same level.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, absolutely. I call it the other vitamin C, vitamin “Connect,” and it’s the most powerful medication we’ve got. We really need each other and physical contact and face to face contact is really important. So you had that thrown in, and then what did you do? You’re off meds and you’ve got your daughter and your son together. What’s his name by the way, his first name?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

His name is Andrew.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So you’ve got Andrew and your daughter is…

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Aprilia.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Aprilia?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What a beautiful name. Does it mean something?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

As I said before, my husband raced motorcycles. Aprilia is actually a manufacturer in Italy of Italian race bikes, but it’s also a flower.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It’s a beautiful name. She can wear that badge with honor. Not many girls get named after motorcycles.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

No, they do not.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So what did you do? Here you are, you and your husband. You look for other kinds of treatments. What did you find?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We spent the thousands and thousands of dollars to do the brain therapy and where my son was sitting in front of a screen and I would drive two hours to the location and drive two hours home, and after a year and a half of doing that, we saw a little bit of a transformation, but it wasn’t that big.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You said brain therapy. It sounds like it was a neurofeedback?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct. They would put like this device, he would put these headphones and it would make these sounds and then they work on this computer, and sometimes I would be sitting there watching my child and I’m like, he almost looks like he’s in the zone or he’s not all there, and then he would come home and there would be zero interaction. No eye contact and it would just be like “Okay, someone just now took our son away from us.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yet another treatment that was counter-productive.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh boy. So now, what is he, about 15?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Now what he’s done at this point, we said “Okay, we’re going to stop.” We’re not going to do any meds, nothing, and what we’re going to do is he had adversity to certain types of food, the textures and whatnot, and we made it creative because I love cooking and that was my passion, I decided to make food and the nutrients that was going into his body something that could aid him, and so I would just make creative, fun, healthy food that in the first, he was opposed to it, and then something clicked and he was like “I want more of that. I want more avocado. I want more of whatever it is you’re making for me,” and so I was getting him to eat textures like broccoli and artichoke, things that he would never eat. It was like I was getting tired of the chicken tenders and the hotdog. I was like, “No, we need to move on,” and once we hit that, we started to see a change and I said, “Wow, this is different.”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

With his sister and the age, they’re six years apart, they started interacting with each other and another huge, I think it’s part of what you were saying, your vitamin C, we got a dog.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh yes, you have no idea. That is at the top of my list.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We got a yellow lab.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Good for you, bless you. It’s not for no reason that God spelled backwards is dog. I’m telling you, the connection to the dog-

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I’ve never heard that. That’s amazing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, it’s so true. These dogs are God’s messengers. I’m so glad you did that. So you got a yellow lab.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We got a yellow lab and I mean it’s the most hysterical thing because I mix my son and the dog’s name up all the time. So I’ll call my son by the dog’s name and I’ll call the dog by my son’s name and the reason being is because we got the runt of the pack and we think that our yellow lab is the child himself because they have similar traits. The dog’s name is Noriyuki, we call him Nori for short.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You got Nori and Andrew.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s so wonderful. How old is Nori now?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Nori is now coming, he just turned six years old.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You’ve had him for how long?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Six years. We got him when he was four months old.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You got him when he was a puppy. Wonderful.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

we got the dog, and I never wanted a dog. I was like completely against it And my daughter was “We need a dog.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Marla, how could you be against a dog? You just envisioned poops everywhere, right?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

No, it’s not poops everywhere. I think I may have a bit of OCD and so for me, a dog that sheds, that means me vacuuming like every two hours, and to the point where my kids are they’re afraid of a vacuum because I vacuum five to six times a day. It’s a white furry dog.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

“Here comes mom with the vacuum again.”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Exactly. They’re like, “Not the vacuum.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

“Not that please.” That’s so funny, but you allowed, you gave in, you got this wonderful angel of God called the dog. Andrew must have just loved him.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Andrew loved him, my daughter loved him, my husband, and funny enough, the dog has been the biggest transition for myself to the point where I mean now, it’s like my husband and my dog fight with one another who’s going to get to sleep with me. The dog or the husband.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s so adorable. That’s one of my absolute number one recommendations. Before I’ll prescribe an antidepressant for a patient, I say you should get a dog first.

[BREAK BEGINS]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’d like to take a few moments to talk with you about OmegaBrite CBD, a supplement created by OmegaBrite Wellness, one of our wonderful sponsors of Distraction. After 20 years of leading the industry in Omega-3s, OmegaBrite is now bringing those same processes to the busy and noisy world of CBD. OmegaBrite and Doctor Carol Locke who’s created the whole thing have set the standards for purity, safety and efficacy, and that matters a lot because the world of CBD is like the Wild West these days. OmegaBrite CBD is organically grown, research driven, and the same commitment given to it and excellence as their Omega-3 supplements which are the best around. I myself have been taking the CBD supplement for a couple of months now and it’s worked wonderfully to help me with my sort of impatient reactivity. Get OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

[BREAK ENDS]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So now you’ve got the team and you’re using nutrition, the dog, your daughter, connection, vitamin connect. Is that when you found out about supplements?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Doctor Carol Locke when I was at my church doing a woman’s night and there was this beautiful woman there and me, being the bubbly person I am, said “Hi. You know anyone? No? You’re going to sit with me tonight,” and we embarked on this amazing friendship and I would go out of my way to include her in any kind of activities that I was doing, and she is the most humble, quiet, gracious woman I’ve ever met. Never spoke about the fact that she had a company that makes supplements or makes anything to be quite frank. She never spoke of herself and there were ladies, we formed a group of women and there were ladies in our group who, unfortunately, we all started having some health issues of some kind, and so I guess the doctor in her couldn’t help but be quiet, and then she spoke up and said, “Well,” one night we were dropping her off after a meeting and she goes, “Why don’t. you ladies take these home, these supplements, and give them a go and try them out?”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Myself and another friend took the supplement home and started taking them and we started to see that this OmegaBrite supplement that she was providing us was a big transition for us in the way we were feeling, and we were having one of the ladies that was taking it, she was having problems with her knees, I was having issues with arthritis and it was helping so I was like “Wow, this is good,” and then one day I was talking to her about my son saying that I’m struggling with my son. He’s in his junior year, he’s failing his classes, he’s taking chemistry and I really need him to pass his classes but he couldn’t focus. I said, “You wouldn’t happen to know anything like or what I can do? Actually, you’re a doctor, you may have some insight.” So she asked me to have my son start taking the full broad spectrum which is the CBD and to put him on OmegaBrite. It’s kind of like a fish oil, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I know it well. In fact, Marla, OmegaBrite is a sponsor of this podcast and Carol Locke and I have been friends for about 20 years. She’s a brilliant doctor, graduated from Harvard Medical School, but as you said, very modest, but her product is the best I think Omega-3 product out there. It’s very quality controlled and for those of you listening who don’t know, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, that means your body can’t synthesize them, and since your brain has a lot of fat in it, all the sheets that wrap around your nerve cells like the insulation on electrical wires are made of myelin and that contains a lot of essential fatty acids, so unless you eat salmon and mackerel all day long, most of us don’t get enough of it, and so these essential fatty acids are really important for brain function.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct. So we put my son on it, and let me tell you, as God is my witness, my husband and I said to each other, “If only we had met this woman years ago, what would have been the trajectory of our child?” Because it is a day and night transformation. We had a child who was not looking to pass any of his classes this year. He just finished and closed the school year off last Friday, and once he started taking the supplements and taking the OmegaBrite products, for the first time, the joy in that child, like he was expressing himself, he has taken up writing and has written several books now that he’s put together in his room.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

He went from having all like F in four of his six classes to finishing the year with two A’s, two B’s, and two CS, and just in three months, he got his grades up, was passing, was present, and that’s with emergency distance learning as well, so that’s a big transition for anybody who’s on the spectrum and kids going from being in a classroom to sitting in front of a computer at home, kids on the spectrum don’t like change, but he took it in great strides. Now, when you see pictures of him, before, you would have to tell him where to look, and we used to have this comment, “Look at the black hole, the black hole.” Now he knows.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Now he knows where to look and it’s night and day, and it’s amazing because I’ve had people saying “What medication did you put him on or what did you do?” The teachers are asking and I said, “I did nothing but have him take OmegaBrite and I had him take a full broad spectrum of just one pill in the morning and then one in the evening of the CBD, the full broad spectrum, and that has changed my son’s life. Literally changed it where now this child is out there, he’s not living with insecurity, he doesn’t have the fears, all these traits, these negative traits that he has has now dissipated and he has this incredible, just like a new found love for life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s just so wonderful.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Isn’t that beautiful?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Did you do one of them first? Did you start with the official, with the Omega-3 first?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I did the CBD first and I-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You did the CBD first, really?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I did CBD first because I was at this point-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’m sorry to interrupt, but when was that?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

This was now three months ago.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So you just started?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh my God, so this has been a very rapid transition.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Oh my gosh, that’s why we’re so blown away.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Because I was going to say the CBD product is new, they didn’t have it until recently. So you started with the CBD three months ago.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yeah, three months ago. So basically when COVID started, just before COVID, I just started my son on it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Then when did you add in the Omega-3 supplement?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I received them in the mail and as soon as I got them, I started him, like I started slow, like I put one a day and then I said, “Oh, maybe I should up it to two,” and then now he will say, “Oh, I feel like I only need one” or “Oh, I know too,” whereas before, he wasn’t even a part of what… He wouldn’t explain or he wouldn’t tell me, “Oh, I need this.” Now, he’s at this point where he’ll tell me if he needs another one at the end of night or he’s like “I’m good. I’m good for today.” It’s because he’s in tune now with himself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’m just saying, what we’re talking about are two different products. One is OmegaBrite CBD, the cannabinoid product, and the other is the fish oil product, the Omega-3 supplement, and just between you and me, I take four of the CBD pills, capsules every day, and four of the Omega-3 fish oil capsules every day. My wife and I have been taking them, the fish oil for many years, and the CBD just came out, so I started taking that as well, but this is just wonderful that it worked that quickly to bring that much of a change.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I mean that quickly, I didn’t expect to see. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical, because my husband and I have been through so much. I was skeptical and I thought I’ll do something nice, I’ll go ahead and order it and we’ll try this out, but I wasn’t having big expectations for it to work. Now that I’ve seen how big of a transformation it’s been in my son, I just contacted Doctor Carol to see if it’s something that could possibly be for my daughter because if-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It’s for all of us. I mean it work, Marla, but everybody should take it, really. It’s the most powerful anti-inflammatory there is and inflammation is what drives most diseases, from obesity to hypertension, to heart disease, to dementia, and it’s good for all of us, so you don’t have to have some condition to benefit from fish oil or the CBD either. I recommend them to everybody.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Absolutely. I loved what my husband did. He took it and broke it down to me and said all these years that we paid, anywhere between $250 to 350 bucks for a 30 minute session, whether it would be for ABA therapy or whether it be for occupational therapy, you name it, right? How many hundreds and thousands of dollars went down the drain, and when you look at the price point for the product and when you see what we are seeing, the transformation in our son, one can only say you would be a fool not to take it, right? Because if you have that great of a result in such a short time, I mean we’re talking three months here and you can see that much of a difference in a child, for our child, for myself included because I started to take the product, I have seen a massive change in myself as well, and to the point where our friends are recognizing that, and so now I’m promoting and saying this is what it is.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I’m not taking the blue pill, the happy pill, these pharmaceutical things that are on the market and they’re saying “Yeah, just take this one.” I’m not having my afternoon martinis or drinking myself. I’m taking my Omega-3 supplement. I’m taking my CBD pill that I’ve ordered, and it’s making a world of a difference for our family, and then you put that with the dog being here and just the communication, it really is beautiful to see finally, after a 17 year journey with my son, to finally hit something that has made such a transformation in our lives for all of us, that we can all just breathe out now and be like “Finally, finally,” and it’s beautiful because he can express now himself where he didn’t have that ability to express himself, now he’s nonstop. Now it’s like, “Wait, where’s the pill so we can make him be quiet a little bit so we can get some rest?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Just to give some balance to what you’re saying, it won’t do this for everyone. You’re not claiming nor would Carol claim it’s a wonder drug for autism or ADHD, but I think we can say with absolute confidence that it’s good for everyone, and how much it will help you, you have to try it and see, but it’s certainly worth trying it and seeing because sometimes you do get dramatic results like you got. Most of the time, because I prescribed it to all my patients, you get some degree of improvement, and not only in mental functioning but in your joints, your stamina, your energy, all of that, so that’s why they sponsor this podcast because I’ve had such a great experience with it not only with my own self and wife but my patients as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Your story does stand out. That is remarkable and really wonderful, but it’s not unique. That kind of thing does happen, absolutely does happen. I’m thrilled. So your treatment plan was connection with your daughter and with the wonderful dog and healthy food and getting off the wrong treatments and getting on to the wonderful OmegaBrite CBD and the Omega-3 supplements.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I think the last part of that is, and it’s an element that I think a lot of people throw out, but I think it’s the element of love. When parents, when we’re trying to do the best for our kids, we’re stressed out of our minds and the love component goes out the window and we don’t think to add that bit and sprinkle it on top of everything else we’re doing because we’re so at the end of our rope, right?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

When things start to go right and all those things are put into place, the last component on top of like him taking the supplements was we didn’t have any more stress from having to work harder because we need to spend so much more to pay for all the therapies, we didn’t have any more therapies to pay for, so for us, there was “Okay, you know what? We can breathe a little bit,” and when you have that opportunity to breathe and to be able to just hug your child, to laugh with them, to not be so always trying to look where’s the negativity here, where’s something wrong, I think that changes the whole aspect of what’s going on.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

When you have all of those things, when you have community and the communication going, then you find the right supplements for you, you’re eating healthy, then he feels confident, he has the strength, he’s doing exercise for the first time where his joints and everything is moving in the right way that they’re supposed to, it changes how everything goes and I’m really looking forward to continuing with our supplements and seeing where this takes not just our son but our whole family.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. I would disagree on one point. Love wasn’t the final ingredient, it was the first ingredient. Love is the most powerful tool that we’ve got and we doctors don’t prescribe it nearly enough and recommend it, and whether it’s in the form of getting a dog or just trying all the things you tried, that was love in action. You and your husband were trying anything. People say to me, “How can you believe in God?” I say to them, “Well, you believe in love, don’t you?” Nobody says no to that, and I said, “God is love, and if you believe in love, you believe in God. Where you find love, you’ll find God, where there’s no love, there’s no God,” and that’s my way around the skeptics. I firmly believe that God is love and your story is evidence of that. The power of the devotion you and your husband felt.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Absolutely. 100%. I mean this is God’s story. The fact that I met Doctor Carol in a church, didn’t know she wasn’t even a doctor, and I always call it a divine intervention. It was meant to be, and just not having that fear of saying “Oh, I can’t turn to her,” but actually, because of my respect for her and my love for my child, I was brave enough and had the courage to say, “Is there something that you could help me with this?” I’ll never look back. Now, all opportunities are ahead of us and we’re really, as a family, excited for our son and excited to see what his senior year will be like in high school.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. This has been wonderful. Thank you so much. That’s all the time we have for today. Thank you, Marla, for taking the time to join me and share your son’s experience with us.

Marla Roque-Wylie: Thank you.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the wonderful Pat Keogh and our producer is the equally, if not more wonderful, Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, and thank you so much for listening.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD. Formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD. Safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Race and Privilege

Race and Privilege

Dr. Hallowell talks about the murder of George Floyd, racism, and his own white privilege. Read the article that Ned refers to in this episode: A conversation: Retired African American MLB players on race, baseball, America

Want to help? Support the Black Lives Matter Movement with a donation to one of the organizations below:

Black Visions Collective

The Bail Project

Communities United Against Police Brutality

Know Your Rights Camp

Share your thoughts with us. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com/welcome.

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by Omega Bright CBD formulated by Omega Bright Wellness creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Omega Bright CBD, safe third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabrightwellness.com.

This is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction. In today’s mini episode, I want to talk about racism for the obvious reason, that George Floyd was recently attacked and murdered in a flagrantly racist action. I’m now 70-years-old. I’m a privileged white man, certainly a part of the problem, even though I like to think I’m not part of the problem but rather part of the solution, demographically, I certainly am and without doubt I have in unconscious ways continued the problem.

What can we do about it? What can we do about it? Well, I had one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had in reading an interview on The Athletic, which is a sports site conducted by Doug Glanville and Ken Rosenthal with six Major League Baseball players, now retired, who were African American. And reading their account of what it’s like to be a black person in this country, a black or a brown person in the United States was chilling. These were all players that I’d heard of since I’m a baseball fan. These were all all-stars, highly accomplished, highly paid athletes who had retired and were continuing to do well.

But what they described was just terrible to hear. One of them quoted a slogan, Caucasians want our rhythm, but they don’t want our blues. People liked me, I guess, avoid understanding the reality of these people’s lives. I must avoid it because it was eye opening to read what they had to say. They said who taught black people how to riot and loot? The KKK, the Ku Klux taught us how to riot and loot. White people, only white people who weren’t brave enough to be seen, but had to carry on and ridiculous white garb. And how to come at that and readdress the situation?

They were saying, what’s the right way? The leader of the nonviolent movement, Martin Luther King was assassinated and his contemporary who advocated a more aggressive approach, Malcolm X was also assassinated. And more recently, one person who took a nonviolent approach and simply kneeled on the field, Colin Kaepernick was crucified for it, for taking a nonviolent form of protest. He was run out of football and blackballed by all accounts simply for taking a knee to protest how black people are treated in the United States.

Let me quote what Torii Hunter said. Tory Hunter, who I watched play, one of the most graceful outfielders you’ve ever seen five all-star teams, nine gold gloves. Well, here he is. He now works as a consultant to the Minnesota Twins, the team that he achieved baseball greatness on.

And he said, “When I saw what happened that day, the first day, the next day at 3:00 AM, I just got out of bed and went into my office. I was sitting in my chair at 3:00 AM looking out of the window and I just started to cry. I have three sons. I’ve been talking to them my whole life. Even as a professional baseball player, carry yourself this way. Be careful about that. If the cops pull you over, do this and do that. I shouldn’t have to feel that way. I shouldn’t have to tell my sons every day, when you go outside the house, be smart, be respectful, be quiet.

Don’t say much. I shouldn’t have to tell them that. No white family has to say that. When you talk about white privilege, I had someone tell me my parents had to work and they got everything they got by working. I said that ain’t white privilege. That’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about, you can drive down the street and police get behind you and you ain’t even worried about it. You can tell your kid have a good day. I can’t say that. I say, hey, this happened, this happened, and this happened so they won’t get killed.

They’ve got come home and say, someone called me the N word today at school. What are you supposed to do? What we have to do,” Torii Hunter went on to say, “is come to a peaceful solution, build relationships with one another. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Come to my house. Let me go to your house. Let me get to know you. You get to know us. Let’s have a little dialogue about what we need to do for change. And you know what? It’s all about relationships. If we can get back to that, that’s what’s going to change this.”

Oh my goodness, I thought to myself, Torii Hunter, you are a brave and wonderful man. Thank you. Thank you. Can we all try to understand what it’s like to drive in a car and see a police car in the rear view mirror and tense up, freeze up, wondering what if he pulls me over? What if my blinkers aren’t working? What if he thinks I look funny? All of which happens. And then I better give the right answers or I might end up under the car with someone’s knee on my neck until I can’t breathe anymore. We’re all getting exercised about this, which is good, but these athletes were saying we’ve seen it before.

We’ve seen all of you white people get all upset and go protest and join rallies and then after the fervor dies down, nothing has really changed. We need to make something change. I’m not sure how we’ll do that, but we need to be doing it. We don’t want to take the inspiration of the moment and let it dissipate into ongoing racism entrenched part of the culture not changing. And I do believe Torii Hunter was right. We need to get to know one another, get to know what it’s like, what it’s really like to live with what these folks live with day in and day out.

We need to not black ball Colin Kaepernick. We need to allow the peaceful protest. We need to understand that these people are trying to lay claim to the freedom and justice they are guaranteed in our constitution, but do not find in their daily lives. I’m resolving to do everything I can moving forward in my own life to rectify the situation, to build as many bridges as I can. I hope you will do the same so that we can turn the death of this man, the terrible murder of this man into something redeeming, enlightening, uplifting, and transforming of the original sins our country perpetrated upon an entire race of people.

Please join me in reaching out and building bridges. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell wishing you all peace, good fortune and the ability to repair injustice.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by Omega Bright CBD formulated by Omega Bright Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Omega Bright CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabrightwellness.com.

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How One Teacher Is Streamlining Digital Learning

How One Teacher Is Streamlining Digital Learning

Now that distance learning is the new normal for students, teachers are making big adjustments to meet their needs. Our host shares some of what he learned in a recent conversation with Tasha Otenti, a teacher at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, about how she’s adapted her teaching style to accommodate distance learning.

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

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

Click here to listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, with a mini episode of Distraction. In our series during the pandemic of short episodes that relate to the pandemic, I want to talk for a few minutes about distance learning. And take advantage of the expertise of a wonderful woman by the name of Tasha Otenti, who teaches Latin at Milton Academy. Which is a wonderful private school, independent school, near Boston.

Tasha was describing to me how she’s doing this distance learning with her students. And she made many good points, but I want to highlight one in particular. Namely the difference between synchronous learning and asynchronous learning.

Synchronous learning is what you might think, it is Tasha conducting a classroom over Zoom classroom. So you see Tasha’s face and then the however many kids are in the class. And it is cumbersome, synchronous learning. Even with a small class like she has, of 12 students or so, is cumbersome. Because you deal with muting and raising hands. And it’s all very public and your faces are on the screen. And people are worried about what they look like and how they are coming across. And people can’t have a free flow discussion. It’s cumbersome, it’s difficult. A lot of kids feel very intimidated by it.

And Tasha was telling me, the synchronous sessions, where she and the students are experiencing it in real time, is mainly good as a check-in. Which is valuable, because you get to see one another. And you know, out of sight, out of mind. So you want the kids to know that the other kids are there, they’re alive and well. And then she uses it to play games. So the synchronous sessions, she only does one a week and tries to keep it on the shorter side.

And then the asynchronous sessions, as the name suggests, involve her preparing a task and setting it up. So then the student individually can access it whenever they want. So she’s a Latin teacher. So the task might be, study the first 10 lines of The Aeneid and answer some questions about it. Or translate it into English. Or it might be, master the following 20 vocabulary words, whatever the task might happen to be. But they’re relatively short, contained… It’s essentially project based learning. Which in my opinion, is the most effective form of learning. And the kids can access it whenever they want.

Now of course what it doesn’t have, is the synchronous, everybody gathered together. But that doesn’t work very well, everybody gathered together, for the reasons I just stated. And the asynchronous learning allows them to develop a new way of learning, really. And then she also does some one on one sessions for kids who aren’t getting it, who are struggling.

So you have three modalities. The synchronous learning, the asynchronous tasks, the project based learning and then the one on one sessions as needed. And that’s her way of taking this new form, that’s a real struggle for an awful lot of students. And streamlining it and making it copacetic, making it as user friendly as she can.

She’s a gifted teacher, Tasha Otenti at Milton Academy. A remarkable woman who is very, very gifted. And I thank her for giving me these ideas that I’m passing along to you.

Okay, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, wishing you well during this pandemic. Keep your spirits up. Know that we’re all moving along, progress is coming. And take care of yourselves until we meet again.

Distraction is a project of Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and edited by the marvelously talented Pat Keogh. And our producer is the extraordinarily talented Sarah Guertin.

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Shift Your Focus from Getting to Giving

Shift Your Focus from Getting to Giving

Bob Burg believes that providing value to others is the path to success. He joins Dr. H for a conversation about why one person is more successful than another, along with his 5 laws for success. And Bob would know, his book The Go-Giver has sold over 1 million copies and he is one of Inc. magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers!

Bob;s book: https://thegogiver.com/

Bob’s website: https://burg.com/

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Click HERE to listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Bob Burg:

Don’t have making money as your target. Your target is serving others. Now, when you hit the target instead, you’ll get a reward and that reward will come in the form of money. The money is simply the reward for hitting the target. It isn’t the target itself. Your target is serving others.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to Distraction. Today I have a very interesting guest who I am truly looking forward to interviewing because he’s expert on a lot of stuff. At the center of what he does is what we emphasize here, namely, the wonderful art of connecting and giving. He’s written a book with John David Mann called The Go-giver, great title, The Go-Giver. Not the go getter, but The Go-Giver. And it’s sold a million copies and translated into 28 languages. Wow, that’s a lot of languages, and he has a new go Give-Giver series called The Go-Giver Influencer.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

In any case, Bob is an advocate, supporter and defender of the free enterprise system believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve, which I think is a great way of putting it. He’s also an unapologetic animal fanatic as am I, and as a past member of the board of directors of Furry Friends Adoption Clinic and Ranch in his hometown of Jupiter, Florida. What a wonderful overview, The Go-Giver. So Bob Burg, welcome to Distraction.

Bob Burg:

Well, thank you. What an honor to be with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh no, the honor is all mine. Let’s just jump right in. You have five laws that will bring you both personal effectiveness and professional success. Is that correct?

Bob Burg:

Yes sir.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, what are those five laws?

Bob Burg:

Before I even get to the laws, if I may, they’re really based on a premise. And it’s a fairly simple premise, and that is that shifting your focus, which is really the key, shifting your focus from getting to giving. And when we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others. When you’re that person who can take your focus off yourself and place it upon others, trying to bring value to them, make their lives better. They want to be a part of your life. It really results in a very mutually beneficial relationship.

Bob Burg:

So there are five laws, as you mentioned, and those laws are the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Can you say something about each one?

Bob Burg:

Sure. The law of value is determined by how much more you give than you take. The law of value basically says when you focus on providing someone with an immensely valuable experience, everyone wins. Really money is an echo of value. And this is true in any business, and it’s also true in any kind of relationship because to the degree that you really place your focus on bringing value to another human being, whether it’s a friendship, whether it’s a relationship, whether what have you, that’s the degree that not only is that person going to feel great about it, but you’re actually going to go into profit yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

The cynic might say, “What about these people who make gazillions of dollars and add very little value to the world?” Do you think the amount of money a person makes is in fact proportional to the value he or she adds?

Bob Burg:

Let’s put it this way, in a free market based economy, yes. And when I say free market, I mean no one is forced to do business with anyone else and that government’s legitimate function is to protect the marketplace, protect people from force and fraud, but otherwise leave people free to voluntarily exchange with one another however they see fit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How about a professional athlete who makes $25 million a year compared to the fifth grade school teacher who makes maybe $50,000 a year, works harder than anyone could ever imagine, dedicated to the children, who adds more value to the world, the professional athlete or the school teacher?

Bob Burg:

So there’s two issues there. One is, well, law number one is about the value you provide. Law number two, the law of compensation has to do with how many people’s lives you impact. So while that teacher who does a wonderful, wonderful job, we even have one of the people in the book, in the story in The Go-Giver, one of the mentors is a former school teacher and I’ll tell you about that in a moment. So the school teacher who does a wonderful job, they might touch the lives of 100 children in a year wonderfully with tremendous value, okay?

Bob Burg:

But this athlete who’s making $10 million a year, they actually touch the lives of millions and millions of people. And so it’s well worth it to the owners of those teams to pay them those kinds of salaries.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Now, when you say touch the lives, touch the lives, they don’t improve the lives. They provide entertainment. And it’s a pretty big stretch, in my opinion, to compare entertainment with the kind of gift a school teacher gives to the children.

Bob Burg:

Now, when I say touch their lives, no, they didn’t do so in a way in which they personally got to know this person and encouraged them or whatever, but because value is in the eyes of the beholder and the viewing public in this case decides what’s of value to them, the market speaks, the world itself is not necessarily fair. The marketplace though actually is when you consider that the people in the market, the consumers are the ones who get to make the decision.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, what’s the second law of your five laws?

Bob Burg:

This is the law of compensation. And it says that your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. The mentor in this part of the book, her name was Nicole Martin. She was the CEO of Learning Systems for Children, LSC. She started out as a teacher and she was very frustrated after a few years because as much as she loved teaching the children and as much as the children loved her and the parents loved her, she was very frustrated by the money she was making. She was also very frustrated by the bureaucracy with which she had to work.

Bob Burg:

So what she did is she had had a computer software system that she put together on the side that could teach masses of children how to learn different topics in a way that was much easier for them. So she developed this company and now she’s touching the lives of millions of kids through this software.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What’s the third law?

Bob Burg:

This is the law of influence. And it says your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. Simply understanding that the golden rule of business, of sales, of life is that all things being equal, people will do business with, refer business to, allow themselves to be influenced by, want to be in relationship with those people they know, like, and trust. And there’s simply no faster, more powerful or more effective way to elicit those feelings toward you and others than by moving from that, I focus or me focus to, and other focus.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you know, Francis of Assisi, in giving, we receive.

Bob Burg:

That’s right. Very much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what’s the fourth law?

Bob Burg:

That one’s the law of authenticity. And this is the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. What really keeps a lot of people from living authentically and showing up authentically is that they don’t have the self-confidence to do so. They don’t recognize their value both intrinsically and the value they bring to the market. So that’s why it’s very important to really understand our strengths, our weaknesses as well, of course, but to understand our strengths and embrace them so that we’re able to lead with them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And being authentic does take courage. Of course, the cynics say sincerity is the key to success. Once you learn to fake that, you’ve got it made. And number five.

Bob Burg:

This is the law of receptivity. And the law of receptivity says the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. Giving and receiving are not opposite concepts. They are simply two sides of the very same coin and they work in tandem. So it’s not, are you a giver or a receiver? You’re a giver and a receiver.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I love what you’re saying, but my experience as a psychiatrist teaches me some of the dangers. I have over my 40 years in this field, worked with a lot of patients who are unbelievably generous, incredibly giving, and they’re taken advantage of right and left. It’s like lambs to the slaughter and they’re taken advantage of by very shrewd mean-spirited people who end up making off like a bandit with a lot of money and the kind, generous person who has been the lamb led to the slaughter is left feeling kind of bereft and saying, “Why am I so good?” And the answer to why they’re so good is it’s just the way they are.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

They’re born generous and humble and some other people are born greedy and ready to take advantage of people. Do you acknowledge that that also can happen?

Bob Burg:

Well, sure, it does happen. But being a go giver should never, ever be confused with being taken advantage of. If someone’s being taken advantage of, it’s not because they’re a generous kind person, it’s because they’re doing things in such a way that they’re creating the environment to allow themselves to be taken advantage of.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sure. There are people who set themselves up to become victims and they need to work on that. But then there are other people who are simply very deliberately generous and to the rest of the world, they may look as if they’re being taken advantage of, but as far as they’re concerned, they’re following their principles. They do believe it’s better to give than to receive. And they do believe if, I’ll give you the shirt off my back. And they do that. That’s in keeping with their basic core beliefs.

Bob Burg:

In that case, they’re doing something out of strength, not out of weakness.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Correct. Absolutely. That’s what I’m trying to say. That you can be a great strength to be a relatively impoverished generous person.

Bob Burg:

Well, okay. So here’s the thing. Let’s take Mother Teresa, for instance. Okay?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sure. Let’s take her.

Bob Burg:

She was a woman, a saintly woman who lived in poverty, but she was a very rich woman. I mean, she could receive a lot of money. She just chose to give it all away because that was congruent with her values. My feeling based on my experience is of someone’s being taken advantage of possibly. It’s not because they’re generous, they’re being taken advantage of constantly because that’s what they do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I got your point there, Bob. I’m just saying there’s other people who are not in that category you’re talking about who are simply very generous because that’s what their principals have them do. I’m thinking of the school teacher versus the hedge fund manager. And they are two very different kinds of people.

Bob Burg:

One reason a school teacher doesn’t make as much money as he or she could is because it’s really not a free market system they’re working out of. If education was a free market system, the real good ones would be making a lot more money than the bad ones, but it doesn’t really work that way. And I realize, again, that opens up a whole can of worms, but that’s why if someone’s going to be a teacher, if they can find another way to be able to add value to even more people, then they’re going to make more money if that’s what they choose to do. And of course, everyone does what they do based on their own principles.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

There’s another note here in your bio, one golden nugget of advice from a drive by mentor totally shifted your perspective and played a big role in your success. Can you tell us about that?

Bob Burg:

Yeah. It was after I had been in sales for a couple of years and I was doing pretty well, but I was in a real sales slump and I came back to the office one day, really discouraged. And I think he saw me as not coming close to realizing, and he said, “Burg, can I give you some advice?” And I said, “Yeah, please do.” And he said, “If you want to make a lot of money in sales,” he said, “Don’t have making money as your target. Your target is serving others. Now, when you hit the target,” he said, “You’ll get a reward and that reward will come in the form of money. The money is simply the reward for hitting the target. It isn’t the target itself. Your target is serving others.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Adding value to their lives.

Bob Burg:

Right. Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Boy, Bob Burg, I could talk to you for a long time. We’re running out of time. If any of our listeners would like to download chapter one of Bob’s wonderful bestseller, The Go-Giver, visit his website at thegogiver.com/join. And to learn more about Bob, go to burg.com. You must get a lot of ham jokes, huh?

Bob Burg:

Oh, are you kidding? Absolutely. Hamburger, iceberg.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, you’re spreading a wonderful, wonderful message that our world really needs. And you frame it in such a way that a person should be motivated to be a go giver because it’s how you get what you want. And it really is in giving we receive, a lot of people don’t realize that and they play it close to the chest and they don’t release anything. And it’s not a great way to live. But you are, I can just tell talking to you, you’re just right out there. You’re totally authentic. You’re totally enthusiastic. You believe in what you’re saying, and it really comes through. The Go-Giver, what a great message. And thank you so much for being my guest on Distraction.

Bob Burg:

Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Again, learn more about Bob. Go to burg.com. Get his book, The Go-Giver, and you can download the first chapter by visiting the website thegogiver.com/join. And please continue to connect with us. Share your thoughts, questions, and show ideas by emailing us at [email protected]. That’s [email protected] And again, our thanks to Bob Burg, a wonderful message that he lives out very clearly and has delivered to over a million people through his book.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the incredibly talented, wonderfully opinionated Pat Keogh. And our producer is the delightful Mary Poppins –esque, Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thanks so very much for listening.

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Supporting Each Other Is Critical Right Now

Supporting Each Other Is Critical Right Now

This mini episode came from an experience our host had just this week while buying a birthday present for his wife, Sue. He shares the story along with a reminder to look for ways to support the people in your own community.

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini-episode of Distraction. Today, I’d like to talk about the plight of the small business owner during this pandemic. It’s so difficult for people who are trying to maintain the little business that they’ve spent their life building. I had direct experience with that today when I called the women’s clothing store in Belmont, Massachusetts. Which is right next to Arlington, Massachusetts, where we live.

There’s a little store there by the name of Bessie Blue. It’s a wonderful boutique women’s clothing store. But it’s independently owned by a woman who’s put her whole life into it. I always buy my wife’s birthday presents and Christmas presents there, at that store. I’ve been doing it for 20 years now. And when I called her, she said, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re calling. I’m working harder than I ever have just trying to stay afloat, spiffing up the website. Every sale now makes such a big difference.”

And I said to her, “Lee, I wish I could buy clothes from you every day. But certainly I will today for my wife’s birthday, which is on the 23rd.” And I could just tell in her voice how grateful she was, how happy she was, to get my business and how hard working she is. And I know, I’ve known her for years, this is an amazing woman. A mom with two little kids. And I just thinking how much it matters to these small businesses that we give them our business. Obviously, if you’re listening and you live anywhere near Belmont, go to Bessie Blue and buy something.

But for all the Bessie Blues out there, for all the small businesses of any size, let’s band together and try to patronize them. There’s a bakery, I forgot the name of it, in Arlington that people send around to noticing, go buy bread there. If we can make a point of trying to, not just rely on Amazon, but instead, go to the small businesses that really, really depend upon our patronage for their survival these days. I think it’s a way to do something that has a very practical impact.

And instead of necessarily going to Home Depot ,or ordering online, or going to Lowes, or going to Amazon, nothing against any of them, they’re very convenient. But if you could go out of your way a little bit and go to the local hardware store, or go to the local clothing store, or go to the local bakery, not to mention the gas station, and go to the places that their survival are in jeopardy. It’s something that we can do grassroots together to really support these wonderful businesses that are almost invariably run by really hard working good people, who don’t have the corporate backing, who don’t have the cushion to fall back on, who aren’t going to get a bailout.

They may get a small loan, but that’s not going to solve the problem that the restaurants… You can’t go to them other than for takeout. Which we have been doing our favorite Indian restaurant in Cambridge, Passage to India. We go to once a week now to get takeout. And I know how much they appreciate it. And if you live in Cambridge, I’d recommend Passage to India. Their Indian food is wonderful. It’s up in Porter Square.

And think of the small businesses that you can support and maybe divert your normal orderings from Amazon and outlets. And go to the small businesses that need you and me desperately, more than ever, and connect with them. And feel good about it. They’ll feel good. You’ll feel good. And let’s work together to keep these small businesses afloat until things open up and we can get back to the regular traffic. We have no idea when that will happen. So take this chance to support whichever small businesses you happen to love.

You’ll, you’ll keep people alive. It’s just that true. And you’ll feel good. And they’ll feel good. It’s the power of connection. Well, this is Ned Hallowell, wishing you support, health, connection. Take care. Be well. Talk to you next time.

Distraction is a project of Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the amazingly-talented Sarah Guertin. And our audio engineer and editor is the also amazingly-talented Pat Keogh.

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Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

Based on the emails we’ve received, lots of our listeners are struggling with their ADHD right now. Dr. H addresses several questions in this episode including getting diagnosed while in quarantine, educational accommodations, impulsive versus compulsive, and the upside of being forced to slow down. And on a lighter note, Ned learns he’s not alone in his ADHD cooking misadventures!

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Episode image by Daniel Xavier from Pexels.

Listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. And I want to thank all of you who’ve been reaching out to us with your comments and questions. We love them. We love them. We love them. We really, really do. So today we are going to prove it by devoting the entire episode to responding to your emails and questions that we’ve received over the past few weeks.

My producer, the incredibly talented Sarah Guertin joins me now, virtually of course, and she will read to me your emails so I can respond. I have not seen these before. So what I will be offering is an off the top of my head off, the cuff, shoot from the hip immediate response, which I hope will have some sense to it. So Sarah, welcome and would you like to read me the first email?

Sarah Guertin:

Certainly. Thank you. It sounds like you might’ve just gotten another one too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. This first email is from a listener named Maria. She wrote, “My eight-year-old son has been recently diagnosed with ADHD. His struggles were the same as me when I was growing up. As a 35-year-old woman and now professional accountant, I can see ADHD traits encroaching my everyday work life. Examples of this are having difficulty focusing on reading a long technical document and regularly interrupting coworkers. I’m fun to be around, but as I continue to move into more lucrative positions, I’m afraid my ADHD like symptoms will hinder my ability to learn more complex technical issues and to be taken seriously. With COVID-19 rampant, would an online ADHD specialist be able to give a proper diagnosis that can be used to start behavioral therapy and possibly if needed be prescribed medication? Thank you for your help. I love your podcasts. Stay safe.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

The answer is yes, an emphatic yes. And that’s something I’ve been learning during this pandemic. Pretty much every day I do just what you asked. I’ll make a diagnosis over Zoom on a new patient. Someone that I’ve never met in-person. The same principles apply. You take a history and you reach a diagnosis. So yes indeed and I would urge you to do that because if you do have ADHD and it sounds like you do, getting treatment for it can make an enormous difference.

And the treatment is not just medication. It begins with education and learning about it, what it is, what it isn’t, learning how it plays out in your life, in your relationships, and a number of different ways of dealing with it, which may or may not include stimulant medication. But the answer to your question, yes indeed. You can call my office in Sudbury or my office in New York, set up a Zoom session and I will get on the line and tell you whether you have this mysteriously fascinating condition or not and then take it from there.

If you want to know how to reach my office, just go to my website drhallowell.com.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. Next up is an email from Jessica. She has actually reached out to us in the past, but this time she writes, “I love listening to your podcast and I truly appreciate all the different advice and suggestions you give all of us. You previously recommended me to find a job that best fits my personality and a place that I am happy. After juggling my finances and balancing my life, I took an opportunity and relocated from Southern California to Northern California and became a teacher.”

Sarah Guertin:

“I work with students that are in grade six to nine, with moderate to severe special education. I can honestly tell you that. I love my job. I am passionate about working with them. I learned something new every day. They love me and accept me with all of my disabilities. My struggle is standardized tests. I need to successfully complete my CBEST and CSET.”

Sarah Guertin:

And I looked those up. Those are California educator exams, but she says “I have failed the test and I have always struggled with all standardized tests. When I was in high school I almost didn’t graduate because of the same reason. I am constantly studying, but nothing seems to help me. What advice can you recommend?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, if you have ADHD, which could very well be if you’re having trouble on standardized tests, medication could make all the difference in the world. So I would suggest you go get an evaluation. And again, as I just said, you can do that online during the pandemic and find out if you fit the profile.

Then if you do, you’re entitled both to extra time on the test, on the standardized test as well as if medication is helpful, medication to help you pass it. I had a patient this year, a wonderful doctor who had taken the board exam, which is sort of the equivalent of what you’re trying to pass four times and failed every time. And when we diagnosed her ADD and got her on medication and got her extra time on the test. This time, the fifth try, she passed with flying colors. And that’s not an uncommon story.

So we ADDers often have tremendous trouble with standardized tests, but the combination of extra time and perhaps medication could really make a huge difference for you. So I would get an evaluation and see if this would do the trick for you. Because this is a good chance that it would. Just go to drhallowell.com and we can set something up.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. This email is from Chuck in Georgia. He wrote, “the instant pot story has me laughing and feeling better about my ADD cooking. I’m 55 now, and I’ve become a good cook and baker over the years, despite some failures.” So obviously he’s referring to that episode you released about your instant pot story.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sarah Guertin:

But he says, “In college, I was making Kraft macaroni and cheese. I boiled the water and put the pasta in the water to boil the pasta according to the recipe. After boiling the noodles for the time stated on the package, I opened the cheese packet, added the cheese and stirred. I waited a few minutes and the macaroni just wasn’t coming together like it was supposed to do.”

“What I hadn’t done was pour the water and pasta into a colander before returning the cooked pasta into the pot, and then adding the cheese. I had poured the cheese into the boiling water and was waiting for the cheese and pasta to, I don’t know, cook down.”

He says, “If you enjoy this story, feel free to ask about my chicken curry and the wok or my bean burgers. Thanks for your ADD tips, advice and encouragement. They helped me. Thanks even more for Landmark College. My step son is a student there and really developing academically and as a man.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh, that’s wonderful. I could see, in fact, I have made Kraft macaroni and cheese, and I almost did just what you did. I almost forgot that you got to drain the pasta before you put it in the cheese. So I could totally identify this. You’d pour in the cheese and then you’re watching it, hoping that it’ll turn into something that looks like macaroni and cheese, but all you’re getting is macaroni and cheese soup. That’s very, very funny.

I just did a little video I was talking about the downside of ADD, and I told the story on myself where I always have grapefruit juice and coffee for breakfast. And I take milk in my coffee. So I had the coffee cup there and I had the glass for the grapefruit juice and I had the grapefruit juice container and the half gallon of milk.

What did I do? I poured the grapefruit juice into the coffee and it’s just why would I do that? Well, I just wasn’t thinking as they say. But then I said the solution is structured. So from now on, I’m going to have the coffee cup and the glass for the grapefruit juice far enough apart, so that I’d actually have to think before I realized what I was pouring.

And now that won’t be foolproof, but it’ll be a step in the right direction other than my point was, don’t try to change yourself, change your system. It’s a lot easier to change your system than it is to change yourself. But thank you for your lovely story. I can just see the Kraft macaroni and cheese and turning into soup. Okay and thank you for your kind words about Landmark. What a great place that is. So do we have another one coming, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We sure do. This next one is a little bit longer and I had to shorten it a little bit, but it’s from a woman named Rosemary. She wrote, “I grew up with a mother who was a hoarder and subsequently with the public attention to the problem of hoarding over the last 10 or more years, I came to understand that my grandfather was also a hoarder.”

“My sister and I grew up in conditions where the houses we lived in were always full of garbage, cockroaches, cat, feces, and mice when we lived in places where cats weren’t allowed.” Yeah, she says, “We moved to frequently due to evictions. Hoarding is treated as symptomatic of an anxiety disorder. I suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for several years following my husband’s death and cognitive behavioral therapy helped me a great deal.”

“More recently over the last two or so years, I’ve basically diagnosed myself as falling under the umbrella of what’s called ADHD. I haven’t been formally diagnosed. I am hyper-focused when it relates to my research or other things I find interesting, but I get years behind on taxes and paperwork is a nightmare for me.”

“I’ve always been very impulsive and extroverted, although I think I’m mellowing with age, currently I’m 49. In some, has anyone thought about a connection between hoarding and ADHD? I know that people with ADHD could also have other co-morbid problems. Maybe in my family, ADHD and anxiety have combined in certain ways that led to hoarding or problems that on the surface look a lot like hoarding, any thoughts?”

And then she followed it up with just another quick question. She’s also wondering about the difference between impulsivity and compulsivity saying she doesn’t quite understand the difference because when she gets an impulse, she often feels compelled to act on it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hmm, that’s interesting. Let’s start with the last question. Impulsive is simply acting without thinking. So you see an apple on the teacher’s desk and you snatch it without a plan, as opposed to someone who has a conduct disorder, they plan to take the apple when the teacher isn’t looking. So it’s a question of volition and that’s contrasting impulsive behavior versus a conduct disorder, low conscience, that kind of thing.

Now compulsive, compulsive is sort of akin to an addiction and you are compelled. You feel compelled to not step on the crack or avoid the number 13,, or not open an umbrella inside as in obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, the compulsions or these irrational feelings that you have to do something. They’re not impulsive. They’re not spontaneous out of nowhere. They just rise up and they’re usually irrational, superstitious like stepping on cracks or not stepping on cracks.

So you’re quite right. You, you do feel compelled and it’s against reason. You’ve you feel compelled not to step on a crack, even though “that stepping on a crack is no problem.” People step on cracks all the time, but in your mind, your imagination plays a trick on you. And you conclude that it’s extremely dangerous to step on a crack. And so you’re compelled not to.

Impulsive, you suddenly do something without thinking. Compulsive, you are forced to do something out of irrational needs. Now you can also not have it be OCD-like. You can have compulsions like compulsive gambling, which is close to an addiction, sort of cousin to an addiction. Compulsive gambling, compulsive drinking compulsive use of the internet, compulsive shopping.

If you’re on your way to developing what could be called an addiction. So a compulsion in that sense is like a bad habit. It’s hard for you to stop gambling. You’d like to, but it’s hard for you to stop, or it’s hard for you to stop drinking. You’d like to, you’re a compulsive drinker. Or you’re a compulsive user of the internet, which applies to an awful lot of people these days.

You would like to do it less, but you can’t seem to willpower your way to doing it less. And so you are compulsive in that sense. So there are different meanings of compulsive. Now, as for your possible ADD, yes, ADD and hoarding are often found together. And the good news is if you get your ADD treated, you might find it a lot easier to get past the generalized anxiety disorder.

And while the CBT, the cognitive behavioral therapy helped you after the death of your husband, which is very sad, by the way, it sounds like he was pretty young if you were only 49. I’m sorry to hear that. That must’ve been pretty tough for you. But if you are the cousin to hoarding, generalized anxiety disorder, sometimes it goes away when you treat the ADD. Because one of the reasons for anxiety is feeling out of control and people with add often feel out of control.

They don’t know how they’re going to screw up next. They’re waiting for the next mistake to be made or the next reprimand to come their way. And so it creates a very anxious state to live in. And oftentimes when you get the ADD treated, you feel more in control, which immediately reduces your anxiety. Same thing, by the way, a lot of people are diagnosed with depression don’t really have depression. They’re just bummed out because they’re not doing as well as they know they could do.

And when they get their ADD treated, their performance improves markedly. And so what had looked like depression goes away because it wasn’t really depression. It was simply a feeling of bummed out because I’m not where I ought to be. You do that for a while and it can look for all the world like you’re depressed, but you’re not really.

Because once you get your ADD treated and your performance improves both the anxiety and the depression go away. This leads to one of the common mistakes that gets made is that someone goes to see a doctor who’s not familiar with ADHD and gets diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and gets put on a SSRI like Prozac or Zoloft. And that is not what they need.

It’ll help them a little bit, but what they really need as far as medication goes is a stimulant medication, which will help them focus, which will reduce their anxiety and reduce what had looked like depression. But wasn’t really depression.

Again, it comes back to how important it is to get the full and complete diagnosis and not treat symptomatically the anxiety and the perhaps depression.

So yes, go get yourself diagnosed and I hope the explanation of compulsive versus impulsive made sense to you as well. Thank you so much, Rosemary. Please keep writing to us. Do we have another one, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We do. This one comes from a listener named Cynthia. She wrote, “My nine-year-old son and I are both ADHD experiencers. I have found your podcast to be excellent and wanted to respond about vitamin connection during quarantine. My hope is that society will appreciate the value of real flesh and blood interactions after this time. I am a musician and piano teacher and I’m hopeful people will appreciate music and making it with others more after this.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh, I think there’s no way in the world that we won’t. I think we’re all missing human contact. I think we’re all missing what you get face-to-face that you can’t get. I’m doing my whole practice now via Zoom and thank God for it because I couldn’t do it at all were it not for that. But it’s not the same thing as being in-person with someone.

The depth of contact as one of my colleagues said to me the other day, the depth of contact is so much greater in-person than it can be virtually. Still, the virtual connection is good enough to get the work done, but it isn’t the same. And I think you’re right, this a shelter at home and quarantine is teaching us the value of what I call the human moment, as opposed to the electronic moment.

The human moment is just so much richer and fuller. The electronic moment will suffice, but it’s not as full and rich as the human moment. We have another one, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We sure do. Got a couple more for ya. This is from Lauren, who also happens to be an ADHD coach. She wrote, “Hi there. I just listened to your short podcast about how not being around people is tiring.” What we were just talking about. “My ADHD 16-year-old son was telling me this last week. He doesn’t have many close friends in high school so I trying to understand what he was missing.”

“He said, it’s just being around people, seeing them and interacting at any level. He has been more tired, yet not able to sleep very well. It is interesting and makes sense. The funny part is he also says his morale is better at home without the social stresses of fitting in, in school and whatnot. Such funny contradictions, yet they make sense at the same time. Thanks for your insight and encouragement of your podcasts.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, thank you. Thank you, Lauren. Yeah, it’s tiring. Not being around people is tiring. My wife said to me the other day, “Why am I so tired?” And it’s because we’re not getting vitamin connect. We’re not getting the human connection. She has me and I have her, but it’s just the two of us in the house. We connect. She’s a therapist also, we connect with our patients or clients over Zoom or telephone, but it is tiring.

I think it is because we don’t appreciate how important vitamin connect is. We don’t appreciate how important those human moments are. And it’s also interesting you said your son’s morale is better at home because the social stresses at school can also be a bummer. So you give with one hand and take away with the other. But when we come out of this, when we can get back to whatever we get back to I think one of the things that we’ll be celebrating and rejoicing, what a great thing it will be to be together.

I mean, an important part of my life and my wife’s life is the church. We attend Episcopal church in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Christ Church. We’ve been going there ever since we got married 32 years ago and it’s a big deal. I love going. People often talk about going to church is a burden.

No, for me, it’s a real replenishment. I loved the music. I loved the liturgy. I loved the stories from the Bible. I love the sermons and I love most of all the community. We don’t have that anymore. We have a virtual church, but I can’t on Sunday morning, go sit in that beautiful space and hear that beautiful music sung by living heart beating humans.

And my wife and I, we both really miss it, even though the church is continuing in its own way. We miss that community. And I’m also a big sports fan, season ticket holder to the Patriots. And we just lost our great Tom Brady, but I don’t know what it’ll be like if we have to play games with no one in the stadium.

When it’s taken away, you really notice how much you appreciate something when you can’t have it. And I think the human connection with other people in a crowd, be it a congregation or a football game or a shopping mall for that matter, all of those were essential parts of my life. I’m a pretty simple guy. Those are my pleasures and I can’t do them. You just go down that list.

Can’t go to a football game, can’t go to church. Can’t go to a movie. Can’t go to a restaurant. Can’t go to a shopping mall. It’s like, “golly” and nothing against my wife and she has nothing against me, but it’s pretty thin gruel, when that’s all you’ve got. And she would say, “What do you mean I’m thin gruel?”

Well, I’m thin gruel put it like that. We need more, we need more sustenance. Then we can get just hanging out, the two of us. It’s hard. We go for walks, we do and we wave at other people walking, but can’t get too close and it’s not easy. And your point is a very good one. When we can get back to it, it’ll be pretty wonderful.

In the meantime, we’re making the best of it and I hope this podcast is providing you with some form of connection. That’s certainly our aim in doing it is to connect with you all because you are our reason for doing it. So Sarah, you have another, I think.

Sarah Guertin:

Yes, I have one more. We love all of the emails, but this one I thought was especially touching. So it says, “Hi, I’ve been listening to your recent podcasts in the current COVID world and how it has impacted our lives. I wanted to share my personal experience. I have a 21-year-old son who has been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety, social phobias, addiction, lying, et cetera.”

“You could use them as an example, in every chapter of a textbook on ADHD. We have been deep in the trenches for many years. A year ago, he returned home from an unsuccessful college experience and his mental health was very fragile. We doubled down on the therapy and other resources, but I didn’t see much improvement.”

“Then COVID-19 became our new normal, the world stopped. He lost his job and has been home for six weeks now. I’ve been so impressed with how much he has improved. To me, it seems like the world has slowed down to his speed and he can now function productively. He has been great. He keeps a somewhat normal daily routine takes his medication daily, does a little work around the house, has maintained his personal space, does his own laundry and exercises.”

“All of his therapy has moved to virtual sessions, including a weekly group therapy. We have been given the luxury of time to figure out that this is all he can handle right now. We will build on this, but this slow world has been a miracle for him. He was obviously overwhelmed before.”

“I’m a little wary of putting too much weight on his success right now, but it sure is a bright spot for me in a world that really could use some good news. Thanks for all of your words of wisdom. I really enjoy your podcast. Sarah.” Not me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Not you. What a lovely, lovely story. That’s so wonderful that given a chance to slow down, all those problems could sort of leave him, drift away, move into the rear view mirror. He needed chance to slow down, have some structure, have some vitamin connect from you. He’s getting what he needs in terms of structure, love, attention, and a pace that he can handle.

And I think success does breed success. So now he’s learning some adaptive life habits that will continue and will strengthen and become durable and will serve him. It’s a great thing seeing how a change in environment, a change in pace, a change in demands. What a difference that can make. That’s a wonderful, wonderful story.

And those of you who are listening, that’s quite a list of problems. He had ADHD, depression, anxiety, social phobia, addiction, lying. That’s why I don’t like the labels because you bury someone under all those labels and the real health can often get lost because you tend not to identify, diagnose health.

We tend not to list strengths or potential strengths, but those are the very factors that have been able to emerge and carry him now that he’s been allowed to have some pressure off and live at a pace that he can handle.

Thanks so much for your email, Sarah. It’s a wonderful story and a very hopeful story as well. Thank you, all of our listeners and sending questions and comments. Please, please, please keep sending them. If we didn’t get to your question today, we will get to it in the next podcast we do on listener comments and questions.

And if you have a question or comment, please, please send it to us at [email protected]. We really live off of your suggestions, comments, and questions. And as you see today, we do take them seriously and answer them to the best of my ability.

In any case, thank you for listening. Thank you for joining our community. Please tell your friends about us as we really want to grow and reach more and more people.

Distraction is a project of Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the amazingly talented Sarah Guertin and our audio engineer and editor is the also amazingly talented Pat Keogh. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you for listening.

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The Pandemic Is Forcing Us To Get Creative

The Pandemic Is Forcing Us To Get Creative

We’re all living in a world of “instead,” as Dr. H puts it. The most obvious one being you stay home, instead of going to school, work, etc. Over the past few months we’ve all had to improvise and adjust our plans one way or another just to navigate daily life. In this mini our host explores some of the “insteads” he’s experienced lately, and asks listeners to share their “insteads” in turn.

Please share your “insteads” with us! We will feature them in a future episode! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Episode photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Click here to listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today we have a mini episode in our series of mental health checks that we’re doing each week as the pandemic continues to roll along. And we all like it or not, roll with it. Today I want to describe a phenomenon that I call the world of instead. We’re all living in a world of instead. Each day we have to think up, dream up, discover, create, improvise insteads. The most obvious one being you stay at home instead of doing whatever you used to do. Go to work, go to school, go to the store, go to the movies, go to the restaurants, go to the hair salon, whatever you may have planned to do you have to do something else instead. And this is posing quite a challenge to our ingenuity and imagination. But ingenuity and imagination are qualities we Americans are famous for, as well as those of us who like me have ADHD, which is not a deficit and not a disorder but a trait. And an abundance of attention not a deficit of attention. The challenge is to control it.

In any case in my world, in my practice I’ve discovered Zoom. I barely ever used Zoom and now to see patients, I can’t see them in person. So we tend to use Zoom. And there is a special Zoom that is HIPAA compliant and so it’s secure and safe. That’s how I’m seeing patients instead. Some of them prefer the telephone or FaceTime, but most of them I see on Zoom and that’s my instead. It turns out there is something called Zoom fatigue. There’s something about that medium that is more tiring than in person conversations and so I’m learning how to deal with that. But then there are all the other insteads. Where do you eat instead of a restaurant? How do you get your food instead of shopping regularly as you used to? Do you order in? Do you have deliveries? And how do you get your mail? Well that still seems to be delivered.

How do you get your exercise? My wife who was an absolute gym rat can’t go to the gym. So she’s built the gym in our living room and she runs around the living room and is doing burpees and jumping jacks and squats every other day from our living room. So instead of the gym she has our living room. Maybe the most challenging instead is the question of employment. And if you don’t have an obvious instead, it’s pretty dismal for those people who can’t work and don’t have a skill that they know how to market in order to generate income. That’s pretty oppressive. And my only solution that I can offer is not to worry alone, to talk to other people, to brainstorm. Don’t hunker down in isolation. Try to reach out to other people. You don’t know what you’re reaching out for other than a connection.

And in that crucible of connection new ideas will spark. Guaranteed new ideas will spark. And you may find as a photographer client of mine found another way of generating business, it is in using your imagination that you will find a vast array of insteads. Necessity is the mother of invention. And we’re all up against it now. Necessity is asking us to really create some useful insteads. And that’s the silver lining. I know it’s sort of Pollyannaish to talk about silver linings in this difficult time. But I think that is a genuine silver lining that we are of necessity. Being asked to dig deep with our excavation tool called imagination. And the beauty of imagination is you never know what you’re going to find. It’s like Forrest Gump said about the box of chocolates, “You never know what you’re going to get when you stick your finger into one of them.”

So stick your fingers into your imaginations. Stick your fingers into that box of chocolates and see what you can come up with. See what insteads you can come up with. We’d love to hear your roster of insteads and we will absolutely devote a show to reading them and talking to you about them. So if you have some insteads send them along. Email us at [email protected]. It’ll be a wonderful show if we can collect a bunch of your favorite insteads. What do you do today instead? Well, that’s it for me for now. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the inestimable wonderful Pat Keogh. And our producer is the brilliant, delightful and extremely imaginative Sarah Guertin.

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4 Core Areas for Self-Assessment

4 Core Areas for Self-Assessment

There are four basic pieces that form the foundation for executive functioning. In this episode you’ll learn what they are and how to look at these areas to assess how you can help yourself.

If you’ve explored coaching before and it didn’t work, or just have trouble making things stick, Rebecca Shafir, an ADHD coach at the Hallowell Center, offers concrete ideas in this episode on how to make lasting improvements in your life.

Email Rebecca Shafir at [email protected].

Or contact Rebecca at the Hallowell Center by calling 978-287-0810.

Rebecca’s book: The Zen of Listening

Check out Focusmate.com for distraction-free productivity help (mentioned in this episode).

Share your thoughts with us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Click here to listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell. And welcome to Distraction. Today, I have a very special guest. She’s an old friend, and she works in my office in Sudbury. In addition to having her own practice, she’s a multi-talented woman. Not only is she a black belt in karate, but she is the author of a wonderful book, and is a speech language pathologist, and she is a coach extraordinary. She’s developed her own system of coaching, and whether you be a student or adult professional, Becky will absolutely help you, and you’ll have fun in the process. She’s one of the best in the business. So I am very, very happy to have her join us. And let’s just jump right in. Becky, welcome to Distraction.

Rebecca Shafir:

Oh, thank you for inviting me Ned, I really appreciate it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, it’s wonderful to have you. You told me you wanted to talk about core coaching, is that correct?

Rebecca Shafir:

Yes. It’s interesting how it all got started, is that I was working with many of your patients with executive functioning and ADHD, and they reported trying many strategies for time management focus and follow through, et cetera. But to no avail, they were really trying to be better and better themselves, and do well in their work and at school. But they were just having trouble making things stick. And they had explored coaching with some very fine coaches, by the way. But again, the strategies and tactics weren’t sticking.

Rebecca Shafir:

So I asked myself, “What’s another way to go with these clients? What do most of these folks have in common?” Number one, I noticed they have poor sleep or wacky sleep patterns. Number two, they were low on exercise. Number three, they were emotionally dysregulated. To some extent they were anxious, procrastinating, depressed, and highly vulnerable to distraction, and their accountability for how they spent their time or activities was rather poor.

Rebecca Shafir:

So I said, “Huh, interesting.” Those core skills and routines form the foundation for executive functioning. So just like a house that’s built on a shaky foundation will topple, for me to ignore those core skills and routines just seemed foolish. So I said, “Becky, how could I make a coaching experience more effective and positive? If I could help them strengthen their core skills and routines, what would come of that?” So identified those core skills and routines, those four basic core pieces. And so I noticed that as I addressed those versus throwing bags of solutions at them, that we started to notice that the patients were becoming more enabled and more successful in implementing the strategies. So that’s my approach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So, tell us about how it goes. What do you do with them? And by the way, who is the, them? Who is your target client?

Rebecca Shafir:

College bound students, student that are already in college, working adults and entrepreneurs.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And then what is the method? Say they call you up and they say, “Becky help me achieve my goals.” Walk us through what it would look like.

Rebecca Shafir:

I like to assess their current level of performance, their medical history. Are they taking medications or not? What are they doing now? What’s working, what’s not, what has been their experience in coaching before, because I want to know what not to bother doing again, or to identify what went wrong in that coaching experience. And then I ask them a very interesting question. I’ll say, “Can you give me a vision of yourself when you won’t be coaching anymore?” And that makes them pause a bit and go, “Boy, I never thought of that.” And I say, “This is important to determining what our target is. How do we know when we’re done?” I mean, this could go on for years.

So they tell me their vision and I often ask them to write it down. And sometimes they have a real hard time doing that, which is what we end up doing some times in our first session, is for getting us at least a general idea of what they’re striving for. So once we have that vision statement, then I want to check on their motivation for following through with coaching. And this is like the moment of truth Ned, because I’ll ask them, “List me your why’s, your W-H-Y-S, your why’s for wanting to meet that vision, to achieve that. And that’s oftentimes for pause, because sometimes their reasons for coming to coaching aren’t their reasons, they’re encouraged by somebody else.

But oftentimes they have a good, strong set of why’s, and it’s things like, “Because I want to be successful, I want to be able to hold a job, and I want to be able to make money and have a good quality of life for myself, and have a sense of self confidence.” I’ll say, “Great, just keep listing those why’s, because those why’s are going to be the drivers when we want to slack off a bit.” Then I’ll say, “How about those why nots? Why not make a change? Why not take advantage of coaching?” And they’ll say, “Well, there’s plenty of those. If I don’t make a change, I’m going to lose my job,” Or “My marriage won’t last,” Or “I’ll be living in my parents’ basement.” I mean, all sorts of horrible things. And I’ll say, “Great. Because we need to have those listed too, combine those with your why’s, then I know you’re motivated, you have some real strong drivers for this process, because changes small as I try to make it is not easy.” Are you with me so far?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah.

Rebecca Shafir:

Okay. From there, we list our areas of improvement. They may say, “Well, I want to manage my time better.” And they’ll make a list. “I want to be able to focus better.” A list of things, and I’ll be, “Okay, you have many objectives here, but we know not to throw bags of solutions at you. That didn’t work before, why don’t we be strategic and brainstorm together to find one small step that we can make?” I like to call it go micro. Let’s find one thing that we can change that could be a catalyst to making all those other objectives easier to attain. And we’ll say, “Okay, let’s figure this out.”

So sometimes that one step is as simple, and you won’t believe it, is as simple as putting out their exercise clothes right by their bed in the morning, or it could be a little bit from a greater step such as, “Well, let’s come up with a calendar system that really works for you.” But I like to start small, because they’ll be looking at me like, “Well, that’s not enough.” I’ll say, “If we start small, then we can bank on making that particular do activity consistent. It’ll be slightly outside of your comfort zone, which is a good thing. But if you can make it consistent, then we can take the next step.” And we build on those challenges.

And what often happens is that we have a trickle down effect, where by making those one or two small changes, well, then they’re a little bit more confident in being able to implement a strategy such as looking at how to manage their time, or their money, or how to get things done.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So once they get past these elementary steps, then how do you take them into greater success?

Rebecca Shafir:

So we meet weekly, sometimes a couple times a week, and we talk about-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And this is over Zoom or in person?

Rebecca Shafir:

Oh, yes. It can be Zoom, it can be FaceTime, Skype are my favorite. And in between though, Ned, what I ask them to do is, “Send me a text, send me an email in between our sessions, let me know what you’re struggling with or how things went or any successes, large or small. I can make and prepare ourselves best for our session when we meet.” So I gather those, and we start off going over the progress with that one step, and we work out the kinks in that one step until it’s consistent. And we assess, and we say, “Okay, if we fell off the wagon, no shame, no blame,” I make that very clear from the beginning. “I want you to learn how to solve problems without getting emotional about it. And stepping back 30,000 feet and looking at the landscape of what went wrong there, what happened?”

So this way we’re starting to step back from problems and look at them more strategically. We take on them the next step. If a couple of weeks they’ve been consistent with that one step, we say, “Okay, what’s the next thing that we can do?” Well, maybe if you’re having troubles with sleep, we might try to normalize just with small tweaks that’s sleep regimen. That might be a real good starting point for them. That might be their one thing. And that can start as simple as waking up about the same time every day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So say they’ve done these little steps, what do you do to really have them take off? Tell me a story of a great success that you’ve coached.

Rebecca Shafir:

Oh, certainly. No problem. I have a computer engineer, he writes software and he has ADHD, and he was really struggling with getting things done, managing distractions at all. Perfect example. And we started off addressing what he’s done before and what worked, what didn’t, and he was really having troubles on the verge of losing his job. So I said, “Okay, let’s look at your core. Let’s see what’s going on there. What’s your sleep like?” Well, his sleep was all wacky. He was going to bed some nights at two in the morning, others at four in the morning, sometimes he fall asleep at seven, and his sleep schedule is all messed up, which accounted in great part four his irritability and not being able to get things done and all that.

So, our one step for him was saying, “Okay, you’re going to try to wake up about the same time every day. However you do it, the same time every day.” Well, what we started to notice with that one step is that he was on time for meetings with his boss. Now that was huge, and his boss gave him a lot of kudos for that, and he felt good and he felt prepared. And from then he was able to say, “Wait a minute, now that I know what my plan is for the week, I know what I’m supposed to do, I had that meeting, I’m not flailing and just grabbing at anything, and I’m able to get started and accomplish a little bit more.”

So this is how I built things up with Steve. Steve started to gain more momentum, he started to feel more confident, and then I said, “Okay, now that you’re waking up about the same every day, why don’t we try then the next level. Let’s try to say, if you were to get a little exercise in, might your focus be just a little better.” And he says, “Well, I don’t have time to work out, I only have like 15, 20 minutes.” I said, “Well, great. Peloton has a free app. You have a bike, or you have a format, 10 minutes of interval training will kick up your energy and focus to endure you to the end of the workday. Let’s give it a try, you like to exercise anyway, Steve.” He goes, “Yeah, I do.”

So one of the main things I do to help these clients flourish in their successes is to change their negative self talk to constructive self-talk. Like, “Hey, what did we do well, what do we need to improve upon? Let’s start changing the language of the way we speak to ourselves.”

Number two, many of my clients don’t know how to prioritize many tasks. And it’s just because they lacked some type of a criteria for doing so. So I said, let’s together, decide on a prioritizing criteria, and often involve things that are time sensitive and things that have strong personal value, like spending time with their family or having the connection with people. But we would look down and focus on what they need and what is important, or what they’re motivated to get done today.

And then, the third suggestion I had is for folks who are listening to look into a wonderful website, https://www.focusmate.com/. And this is live partner, that is live on the internet that you choose, maybe similar to you, like another graduate student or another entrepreneur, and you agree to sit down and do work together online, virtually. He’s doing his tasks online and you as the client, you’re doing your work at the same time. And everybody’s keeping everybody engaged and focused, and it works really, really well. Have you ever heard of that?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

No. It sounds wonderful. That’s great. You just discovered that on your own?

Rebecca Shafir:

I did.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, aren’t you special? You are special. Focusmate.com, that sounds great.

Rebecca Shafir:

Yes, it’s a virtual study buddy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And then the final one?

Rebecca Shafir:

The final one is, know your biological prime time for getting certain tasks done over others.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Now, what does that mean? I know you abbreviated it BPT.

Rebecca Shafir:

Yes. So biological prime time, is there a certain time of day when you write the best?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

No, it really varies hugely. It varies on the day, sometimes not often, but sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and sometimes in the evening. I’m unusual that way. Most writers have a definite time, see, I can’t do that, I can’t have a definite time. And so I’ve learned over 40 years of writing to catch it when it hits. And that’s what I do. So my biological prime time varies from day to day.

Rebecca Shafir:

Oh, but you can gauge it. You know what the day’s going to be like, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

No, I don’t. I know it when it hits. And next thing you know, I pull out my laptop and start writing. Unless I’m in the middle of seeing a patient or doing a podcast with Becky.

Rebecca Shafir:

Well, for the rest of us, many of us, we might be better between, let’s say, 11 o’clock and two in the afternoon.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, and I think most people are like that. I think I’m an anomaly. Most people are what you’re describing. They have a reliable BPT, and your suggestion is to save your most taxing, difficult mental work for your BPT.

Rebecca Shafir:

That’s right. And do the folding of the laundry at 10 o’clock at night. So, sometimes that can make those more odious tasks look a little bit more tolerable and palatable if we set a schedule to apply those tasks to the best time for us to do them. That’s a great tip that’s often ignored. So there we go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This is so wonderful. So to sum up, you’ve developed over your many years of coaching, a method you call core coaching, right?

Rebecca Shafir:

Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And your core method includes attention to sleep, exercise, emotional self regulation, and some degree of accountability, right?

Rebecca Shafir:

Correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And then you have a process that you reviewed with us, which you found is very effective in helping people, regardless of their actual level of helping them achieve even greater success. See what a good listener I am here. You concluded with your four tips of constructive self-talk and learning how to prioritize, and you referred us to focusmate.com. And then you urged us to work within our BPT, I love the BPT, or biological prime time, whatever that might happen to be, and I confessed that I’m an anomaly. I don’t know when it is, I just try to grab it when it comes. Now, if someone wanted to read one of your books, you go to Amazon and what’s the name of your book? The Zen of Listening, right?

Rebecca Shafir:

Zen of Listening. It’s now on audible.com too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wonderful, wonderful. So look for Rebecca Shafir, on Amazon. And if they wanted to get a coaching appointment with you, how would they do that?

Rebecca Shafir:

Sure. They can call the Hallowell Center at 978-287-0810 or they can email me at [email protected].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Or they can call the Hallowell center in Sudbury, 978-287-0810. And I can’t recommend Becky highly enough, I’ve known her, I don’t know how many years Becky, must be going on 30 years.

Rebecca Shafir:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

… Because I saw a photograph of her in the newspaper demonstrating karate. And one thing led to another, next thing I know we’re working together. And she’s one of the most multi-talented people I know. She can be a speaker, she can be a writer, she can be kicking butt in karate, she can be coaching, she can be doing speech language pathology. She’s endlessly curious for finding new innovative techniques. And if you happen to go to see her, you’ll be thrilled because she’ll be probably interesting you and something that you’d never even heard of. She does that with me all the time. A wonderfully brilliant multi-talented exceptional woman, Rebecca, Becky Shafir. Thank you so much for coming and joining us on Distraction.

Rebecca Shafir:

Thank you so much Ned, I hope it’s a help.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay, well, that’ll do it for today. If you’d like to reach out to Becky, as she said, you can find her at my center in Sudbury, Mass, by calling 978-287-0810 or go to hallowellcenter.org, or email Becky directly at [email protected]. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the mixed up, but absolutely delightful, Pat Keogh. And our producer is the weld produced and absolutely brilliant Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, and thank you all so much for listening. We are banding together during this trying time and hope to bring you some interests as well as entertainment. Be well, stay safe.

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Be A Weaver, Not A Ripper

Be A Weaver, Not A Ripper

As the pandemic continues, Dr. Hallowell checks in with listeners and encourages everyone to put aside differences and come together to get thru this. Be a “weaver,” as David Brooks put it in his recent NY Times op-ed.

Share your thoughts with us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Episode image by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. In our series of what we’ve been calling mental health updates as this pandemic roles on day after day, week after week, and I wanted today to talk about a very upbeat note in a very downbeat era. It was stirred in me by David Brooks’s op-ed in the New York Times on Friday, May 1st where Brooks talked about, in the world there are weavers and there are rippers. Weavers are people who, no matter what, are always trying to make something good out of whatever’s going on, and then the rippers are the people who delight in tearing things apart and dividing us. Brooks was saying the good thing about this pandemic is the weavers are winning. It suggested to me what I’ve been feeling, and I bet almost all of you have been feeling, that, enough of this hatred, enough of this division, enough of this ripping. Let’s start weaving.

Let’s start taking this disastrous situation and letting it be the watershed moment. Just as Kent State was a watershed moment, let’s let this period, this pandemic be a watershed moment of us coming together. Enough of this blue state/red state, enough of this good guy/bad guy, enough of this white and black and no gray zone in between. Let’s unite. Let’s be weavers, to use David Brooks’ wonderful term, and let the day of the ripper be gone. I’m quoting now from his op-ed. “If you want to be there at one harbinger of the new world, I suggest you tune into the call to unite, a 24-hour global stream-a-thon, which starts Friday,” that was last Friday, May 1st, “at 8:00 PM Unite.us, in various digital platforms. It was created by Tim Shriver and the organization Unite. There will be appearances by world leaders, musicians, religious leaders, actors, philosophers, everybody from Oprah and George W. Bush to Yoyo Ma and the emotion scholar Mark Bracket.”

He goes on to say, “When the stream-a-thon was first being organized,” and he said he played an extremely minor role, “the idea was to let the world give itself a group hug. But, as the thing evolved, it became clear that people are not only reflecting on the current pain, they’re also eager to build a different future. If you tune in, you’ll see surprising layers of depth and vulnerability. You’ll see people hungering for,” in caps, “THE GREAT RESET, the idea that we have to identify 10 unifying ideas like national service and focus energy around them. Americans have responded to this with more generosity and solidarity than we had any right to expect.” That, to me, just, it’s so wonderful, the call to unite on Unite.us. But, I think there’ll be many more similar efforts, platforms, but I think we’re all feeling this.

Isn’t this what we’ve been hungering for? Been trying to find a way to come together to create, and it’s terrible that it took a pandemic and it took, what are we now, about 70,000 deaths to get us to this point. But, I do think the rippers, it’s time for them to go rip somewhere else and let the weavers weave together the kind of connectedness, the kind of tapestry, the kind of well knit society that we really want. That’s who we are as a country. We’re a country of very disparate, different off-beat, out of place, out of whack folks, but we unite around the common theme of togetherness, of freedom, of the right for everyone to be whoever they are. The day of ripping and hating, we don’t have time for that. Life truly is fleeting, as we’ve been seeing, and what we do want, every single one of us I am convinced, deep within our soul, deep within our heart is to love one another, or at least to like one another.

We can’t love one another, that’s too tall of an order. But, we can treat each other as if we loved one another. We can treat each other as if we were loving each other, and then we can call upon ourselves to like each other. Anyone can like someone who was just like you, but it takes a special person to like someone who’s pretty different. But, that’s what we weavers are all about. We weave a way to bring people together. My hope for you today, echoing David Brooks and echoing, I think, probably all of you, is let’s come together. Let’s put the rippers to route and let them go rip each other if they must. But, let’s us set about weaving, and if any of you are rippers and want to join us, please do. Become a weaver and weave the connected, harmonious, loving society that all of us really want. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction.

Share your thoughts, questions, and show ideas by emailing us at [email protected]. We love hearing from you. We often devote entire shows to your questions, your comments, and certainly we create shows around the ideas you send us. So, please, we’re a growing and building community. We would love to hear from you. Be a weaver and come to us. [email protected]. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the illustrious and incredibly literate Pat Keogh, and our producer is the constantly creative, always coming up with new ideas Sarah Guertin.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Distance Learning in a Pandemic

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Distance Learning in a Pandemic

Today’s conversation focuses on the current state of distance learning and its effects on students. Adam Man, Head of Forman School, a prep school in Connecticut for high-school students who learn differently, joins Ned to talk about how his students are adapting and offers advice for those who are struggling, regardless of whether or not they have ADHD.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Forman School in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Share your thoughts with us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Adam Man:

I think there’s very few students who say, “You know what? I’d like to sit all day passively, shift gears among subjects, kind of every 45 to 50 minutes, take in exactly what the teacher’s telling me and be able to give it back to them exactly the way they want”. I mean, I look at that and think, “I don’t know who that was designed for. I don’t know who that student is.” But that’s somehow who we’ve imagined what our educational system should be.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell, and thank you so much for joining me. If you have a school aged child or a teenager, by now you are very familiar with the concept of distance learning. The pandemic has certainly seen to that. But students with learning differences like ADHD or dyslexia can have extra challenges making the leap to learning online or learning from home.

Today, my guest can offer some help. Adam Man, a wonderful man, indeed an educator par excellence, is the head of the Forman School in Litchfield, Connecticut, a school that I’ve visited a few times and a really wonderful institution. It’s a traditional college prep boarding and day school dedicated to students who learn differently, i.e. really smart creative kids. Adam’s students are now learning from home. He joins me today to talk about how things are going. So Adam Man, welcome to Distraction.

Adam Man:

Thank you, Ned. It is a pleasure to be here. I’m a big fan, so I’m thrilled to be with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, we’re thrilled to have you, that’s for sure. And how the world has changed, huh?

Adam Man:

Oh, very much so. Who would have thought just a couple of months ago that we would, such a dramatic change in all of education would occur. It is astounding.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Right. How are your kids handling it?

Adam Man:

I think like most kids. There are the challenges. I think for our students, just the sudden momentous change that took place is startling. I mean, the students left on spring break thinking they’ll be back in a couple of weeks and before they know it, we’re saying, “I’m sorry, you can’t come back. We’re going to need to work with you remotely for the remainder of the year.” And I think it’s especially challenging for our seniors because, I mean, all of them looking forward to all the traditions that we have throughout the spring and then obviously graduation and that’s just not going to happen. And I think that probably has been the greatest challenge for our students going forward, in that particular piece.

Adam Man:

I’m very impressed with the way our faculty responded and how quickly they moved and the amount of individual attention that they’re giving our students as they work remotely. I’m very, very proud of because I think that’s a key part of what we do. We know that this is not the ideal setting for a student with ADHD to be cooped up all day, in their house, with their siblings and their parents and not be able to go out, not have the routines and structures of school as well as the social interaction, the chance to run around outside and play sports, all those kinds of things. I think that makes it really hard for students, in general, not just for students with ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. And what tips might you have for kids who are facing a June with no graduation ceremony or, probably more importantly, kids who are every single day trying to learn online but finding it’s pretty difficult.

Adam Man:

Sure. I would say, first is you think about, I know that you have said this as well to families, to students is routines and structures are good things. And I’m not talking about a military march and step routine and structure, but rather predictability, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes.

Adam Man:

I know what today looks like. I know what tomorrow is going to look like. I know what my routine will be. Those things are really healthy and valuable and all those students, teenagers, want to push those boundaries all the time. That’s kind of in their DNA, that they’re hard wired at this age to do it. And our job is to push back, right? To say, “Oh no, there are structures and routines for a reason.” And absolutely you’re going to have to be flexible, certainly in this time with those, but it is really important for kids to know, “There is a predictable pattern of what my day is going to look like. There are structures and things that I can count on.” That is really key for kids at this point who just feel like everything has gone south.

Adam Man:

But going back to your first point about seniors and missing these traditions and my hope is, certainly, they’re at schools that are thinking about ways to recognize and honor their seniors throughout the spring and that their graduation may not be the one that they’re hoping for all in person, et cetera. But I would also hope that they’re planning on connecting with those students, with those teachers that were important to them at some future date to celebrate their experience. That knowing that there will be a future date where they will be able to be in person and they will be able to connect both with their peers, but also with those teachers that were important in their lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what can’t be taken away from them is their experience.

Adam Man:

Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Maybe the day to celebrate that experience won’t happen as planned, but the experience itself, which after all is what’s being celebrated, is immutable and emblazoned in their memories forever.

Adam Man:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree with you more.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How about the actual act of learning online, of using Zoom or whatever platform you’re using? Have you learned anything about that, that we can pass along to other students or parents?

Adam Man:

Yeah, I mean I think Zoom is a careful balance, right? And online learning is a careful balance, in terms of between that synchronous in-person learning, which is important. Being able to talk to a teacher live, be able to ask questions, have a teacher respond in the moment, those are all important things. But sitting there all day in front of a computer is also incredibly challenging, especially with students who have ADHD, who are, there’s energy and focus, et cetera, and that forum is not ideal. So that really finding a way to break up your day, to be able to get out, to be able to move, to be able to get away from the computer, but also find times that you’re going to be able to connect and get perhaps some individualized or personalized support is going to be really important.

Adam Man:

As we looked at that at Forman, we try to balance our days between time when kids are in a Zoom class with the teacher and their peers, times when they can work independently and hopefully not all of that independent work is on a computer, but other formats that allow them to not be sitting passively in front of a computer. And then also, really importantly, time for them to be able to connect with that teacher in some one-on-one fashion that is going to allow it to be a bit more individualized and personalized. And Forman realized, part of what we do is really the ability to pay attention to each individual student’s needs and it’s really hard to do that in a Zoom forum. You’ve got to find ways to be able to do that more in a one-on-one fashion so that you’re really paying attention to where the student is, what they’re doing, for students to be able to express, “This is what’s working for me, this is what I’m confused about, this is what I’m not working about.” and be able to adjust.

Adam Man:

From a school, we can create a schedule, create a program that looks like that. If you’re at a school that you would say that’s not really what it is, try to find ways to be able to break up your day, try to find ways where you’re interjecting activity, not just sitting the whole time in front of a computer and then have ways to reach out to people who can help you. And I think for some of our students, their parents are in that role. I think for many of our parents what they would say, “I could do that for so long and I’ve got my job to do, or I don’t remember anything about Algebra 2 and I’m not that helpful.” Or just the natural frustration that happens with your parent also sometimes being your teacher.

I mean, I think that’s one of the things that we would say we learned a lot about it at Forman is that we can play a role that parents often can’t play, right. Where we can tell a student, you need to do this or you need to stop doing this and we don’t have all the baggage of being their parent, right? Or we have more of that neutrality.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes. You don’t have the power play or the nag factor getting in the way.

Adam Man:

Oh gosh, no. No child is going to say to me, “Remember that time when I was six and you left me behind.” We don’t have that, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Right.

Adam Man:

I mean, your best interest is in my heart, but there is no baggage between us. We are on a level playing field.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. Tell us a little bit about who was Forman for.

Adam Man:

Sure. So Forman School was founded in 1930 by John Forman. And at the time, very little was known about learning differences, but he had the sense of he wanted to create a school for what he described as bright students who just weren’t reaching their potential. And John was a smart, smart man because he surrounded him with people who knew a lot more than he did. So one of the earliest advisers he brought on was Dr. Samuel Orton, who would create the Orton-Gillingham method. They were really surrounded by people who knew a lot and were thinking a lot about how people learn differently and that’s really what Forman is. We’re a school for students who are bright students, about a quarter of our kids are actually gifted intellectually, who being in a conventional school setting, in a traditional school setting, is not the right place. They need a place that’s more innovative, that’s more forward thinking, that’s more individualized to who they are. And as a result of that experience, it’s getting them ready for college. 100% of our students go on to university. They go on to lead lives in all kinds of careers.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

100%? I got to pause there. 100% go on to college.

Adam Man:

100%, 100%, absolutely. And go on and fill every different type of career field you could imagine.

And for us, it’s the sense of the students who come here, we’re saying to them, “We want to help you get to know yourself, who you are as a learner. What do you do well because there are probably things you do fantastically well and those are going to be the things that are going to take you the rest of your life. That’s going to be supporting your journey. There are things you don’t do well, like everyone. And so we need to help you figure out what those are. Help you build up your toolbox so those things don’t hold you back. Help you learn to be self confident, help you to learn how to advocate for what you need.” Because that’s the key. I mean, Ned, you know the statistics of how many students who qualified for some type of support or accommodation in high school, go off to college and never even ask for it.

They never even go by the office to say, “You know what, I need might need extended time or I might need the notes for this lecture.” They don’t use it in college and that is a recipe for disaster. And so, we need our students to realize, “You’ve got a lot you’re bringing to this conversation. You’ve got a lot you’re bringing to the table. But there are things, like all of us, we don’t do well and you need to be okay about being able to go forward and say, ‘This is what I’m going to need to be successful. And if I have these things, you’re not going to be able to hold me back.'”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you really understand different learners. You really see the strength in it.

Adam Man:

Oh gosh, yes. I mean, absolutely. I mean, that’s the wonderful thing. I think if you look at what happens in most high schools across the globe, they really are tailored for a very small sliver of what would be adolescents out there, right? I mean, I think there’s very few students who say, “You know what? I’d like to sit all day passively, shift gears among subjects, kind of every 45 to 50 minutes, take in exactly what the teacher’s telling me and be able to give it back to them exactly the way they want.” I mean, I look at that and think, “I don’t know who that was designed for. I don’t know who that student is, but that’s somehow who we’ve imagined what our educational system should be.”

Forman is really looking at it and saying, “We know our kids are incredibly talented and they do amazing things here. They’re going to do amazing things later.” We have an incredible alumni body who has done amazing things. So it’s really tapping into each student’s strengths and really supporting them, letting them go to the nth degree in that era. But also helping them understand, “All right, here are things we can help you be better at. And here’s things that we can help you so that they don’t become hindrances for all the things that you are going to accomplish.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It’s a wonderful school. And you have day as well as boarding, right?

Adam Man:

We do, absolutely.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. And what grades again?

Adam Man:

High school. So grades nine through 12.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Nine through 12, wonderful. It’s just one of the absolute best of its kind. And if you have one of those gifted different learners who have ADHD and dyslexia like me, consider Forman, a fantastic, fantastic school. Adam Man, head of Forman. Thank you so much for coming on Distraction.

Adam Man:

Thank you, Ned. I really appreciate it. It’s been terrific and we hope to see you again here when we’re not in quarantine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, I hope to come up. Please invite me and I’ll be there.

Adam Man:

Sounds great. Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Okay, well, that will do it for us today. If you’d like to learn more about the Forman School, and I hope you will, go to Formanschool.org. And remember to connect with us, share your thoughts, questions, and show ideas by emailing us at [email protected]. We love hearing from you. We often devote entire shows to your questions, your comments, and certainly we create shows around the ideas you send us. So please, we’re growing and building community. We would love to hear from you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the illustrious and incredibly literate, Pat Keogh. And our producer is the constantly creative, always coming up with new ideas, Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell and thank you so very, very much for joining me.

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5 Tips for Parenting in a Pandemic

5 Tips for Parenting in a Pandemic

Parents of children with ADHD we are thinking of you! Dr. Hallowell offers five ways to help you manage your kids while quarantined. These are simple things everyone can employ– like having set breakfast, lunch and dinner times. And they’ll work even if your kids don’t have ADHD.
As you’ll hear, structure plays a key role!
What are you doing to stay sane? Share your thoughts with us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Each week we’ve been putting out what we’re calling a mental health check during this pandemic. And today I’d like to address the specifically people at home with children who have ADHD, which I have myself. And give sort of a overview of the issue and then a few little tips that might be helpful to you.

You know people with ADD, we are born renegades. We like to run wild and run free. We are open prairie people. So our idea of hell is being cooped up, stuck in one place. Reined in. We hate rules. We hate being told what to do. The best way to get us not to do something is to tell us to do it.

So now, we’ve got this total terrible situation where we all have to stay indoors and we all have to play by really tough rules of not interacting, not going out and being cooped up. And so, the people with ADD particularly, nobody likes it, but people with ADD hate it. It pushes all of our buttons.

So the first tip if you will, is just to recognize that fact. If you have ADD, if your kids have ADD and you’re having to shelter at home, just be aware that that is a setup. That is a setup for all kinds of conflict, for anger, for tantrums, for breaking rules, for busting out. And try to acknowledge that amongst each other. Say, “This is real stressful for us,” and don’t be surprised when fires break out so to speak, when tempers flare.

So other than recognizing it, which is a big deal. Once you recognize something and name it, it’s a lot easier to deal with. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s easier. One really good tip is to structure your day. People with ADD need structure. We bristle at it, we push back at it, but we really want it.

Structure is like the walls of the bobsled ride. You know my analogy for ADD, a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes. Well, structure strengthens brakes. And structure, contrary to popular belief, potentiates, enhances creativity. Far from repressing it, structure enables creativity.

And my two favorite examples are Shakespeare and Mozart. Shakespeare wrote everything in iambic pentameter. Bu-ba-bu-ba-bu-ba-bu-ba. All of his stories, iambic pentameter, blank verse, very structured. And yet within that structure he created infinite variety, the most beautiful poetry that’s ever been written in English.

And Mozart, the same with music. He wrote within very tight forms, very tight forms. But within that tightness he created unbelievable beauty and variety. So think Shakespeare, think Mozart when you’re creating structure. You’re not being a repressive schoolmarm at all. Without structure you have chaos. With structure you have potentially beauty, but certainly your chances at harmony, living at home, sheltering at home, are much greater.

So what do I mean by structure? Have a schedule, have a breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time. Have a project. Okay, your project Joey is to design the house you’d like to live in when you get to be 30 years old. Draw it on a piece of paper. And Sally, your project is to call grandma and grandpa and get their life story and start a grandparent book. And your project is to make sandwiches for lunch.

I mean give everybody a project. Or even better, let them design their own project. So the projects can be you make up your own or mom and dad will give you one. Either way but have them have a project, have them have a structure and have them have goals for the day. Structure is really, really important.

Another little tip is to have games. This is a great time for games, board games, charades, hide and seek around the house, have games. Games are also, it’s a kind of a project. And it engages the imagination, which is what you want to do.

A third tip is to allow for space. If you live in a place that’s big enough, try to let people go off into corners by themselves. This is not the time to force togetherness. This is the time to give permission for people to go off to their room, lie on their bed, read a book, veg out, what have you. Because that togetherness, you can reach a critical mass and the next thing you know you’re fighting with each other.

And then finally, expectations. Try to manage your expectations. So, you anticipate there will be conflict. And you anticipate, what Ross Greene calls, collaborative problem solving. Instead of issuing orders, you issue alternatives. Try this, that, or the other thing, and work out the differences that way.

So those five suggestions, add structure, play games, allow for space, create projects for everybody every day and manage your expectations so they’re in some concordance with reality and reasonable expectations. It’s a hard time, but it can also be memorable in a good way of closeness and learning how to get along during periods of stress.

That’s it for this mini episode. Before I go, I’d just like to thank our sponsor, our wonderful, wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. That’s OmegaBrite, O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E, intentionally misspelled. I take it every day along with their Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and I highly recommend them both. OmegaBrite CBD, was formulated by Dr. Carol Locke of Harvard Medical School. And her company OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years.

She’s really a remarkable woman and the work she’s done is truly outstanding. All our products are safe, third party tested and they work. I can tell you, I take them as does my wife as well. Please help support our podcast and check out OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com.

Okay. Remember to reach out to us with your comments and questions. We need them. We love them, we grow from them. They’re our mother’s milk. Reach out to us please with your comments and questions and thank you to those who have been sending in emails. We just love them. You have no idea how our eyes light up when we see a new email from you guys. We truly mean that. We love hearing from you.

If you have a question, a comment, or a show idea, anything, try recording your thoughts as a voice memo on your phone and then email the file to us at [email protected]. We really will absolutely read them all and mull them over and very likely do what you suggest. Unless your suggestion is for us to go jump in the lake. Well, maybe we’d do that when it gets warmer.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media and our recording engineer is the amazingly talented Pat Keogh. Our producer is the also amazingly talented, delightful Mary Poppins-esque, as I love to call her, Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell and thank you, thank you, thank you so much for listening.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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