The Challenges of Finding ADHD Support & Culturally Relevant Resources for Black and Brown Children

The Challenges of Finding ADHD Support & Culturally Relevant Resources for Black and Brown Children

René Brooks continues her stint as guest host of Distraction during ADHD Awareness Month! Today’s episode is the third and final part of a conversation René had with ADHD advocates: Rhashida Perry-Jones, founding coordinator of CHADD in PhiladelphiaNathalie Thandiwae, a neurodiversity resource navigator who helps parents identify and support their child’s unmet needs; and Dr. Loucresie Rupert, a child and adult psychiatrist who focuses on neurodiversity, as well as foster care and adoption. 

The episode begins with our guests talking about the importance of parental self-care, as all three are mothers of children with ADHD. Nathalie says, “Our children are intense, and our commitment to them is intense” when talking about why parents need a break.

The conversation moves into a discussion about culturally relevant ADHD resources for Black and Brown children with our guests sharing information about neurodiverse Facebook groups, websites and other places to find connection and community with people of color. “It’s very lonely trying to navigate all of this by yourself,” René shares in this episode while talking about the origins of her blog, Black Girl, Lost Keys.

Rhashida’s Facebook group, Parenting and Caring for Black and Brown Children with ADHD can be found HERE. You can reach Rhashida directly by emailing her HERE.

We want to hear from you! CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR LISTENER SURVEY. Or write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Distraction is sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.  It’s the college for students who learn differently! Landmark offers comprehensive supports for students with ADHD and other learning differences, both on campus and online. Learn more HERE!

Distraction welcomes Black Girl, Lost Keys blog creator, René Brooks, as our guest host for ADHD Awareness Month! René is an ADHD coach, writer and advocate who also has ADHD herself. From Black Girl, Lost Keys website: René Brooks is a late-life ADHD success story. After being diagnosed 3 times as a child (7, 11 and 25) she was finally able to get the treatment she deserved. René decided that her passion for helping others should be put toward people with this disorder who are struggling in silence or shame. She started Black Girl, Lost Keys to empower Black women with ADHD and show them how to live well with the condition. 

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It’s Time to Re-Educate Clinicians and Teachers About Neurodiversity

It’s Time to Re-Educate Clinicians and Teachers About Neurodiversity

Today our guest host René Brooks continues the conversation about the unique needs of children of color with ADHD. This episode focuses on the lack of knowledge about neuroscience in many practitioners, providers and educators; and how the burden to teach them often falls on parents’ shoulders.

Listen to hear our guests’ experiences, as well as some insightful advice for parents on navigating the system, including managing expectations, dealing with implicit and explicit bias; and how to reframe your child’s behavior for school professionals.

Rhashida Perry-Jones is the founding coordinator of CHADD in Philadelphia. Nathalie Thandiwae is a neurodiversity resource navigator who helps parents identify and support their child’s unmet needs. And Dr. Loucresie Rupert is a child and adult psychiatrist who focuses on neurodiversity, as well as foster care and adoption. All three of today’s guests have children with ADHD.

Rhashida’s Facebook group, Parenting and Caring for Black and Brown Children with ADHD can be found HERE. You can reach Rhashida directly by emailing her HERE.

We’ll be releasing more of this conversation in a future episode so keep an eye out for it, or subscribe to Distraction wherever you listen so you don’t miss an episode!

Distraction welcomes Black Girl, Lost Keys blog creator, René Brooks, as our guest host for ADHD Awareness Month! René is an ADHD coach, writer and advocate who also has ADHD herself. From Black Girl, Lost Keys website: René Brooks is a late-life ADHD success story. After being diagnosed 3 times as a child (7, 11 and 25) she was finally able to get the treatment she deserved. René decided that her passion for helping others should be put toward people with this disorder who are struggling in silence or shame. She started Black Girl, Lost Keys to empower Black women with ADHD and show them how to live well with the condition.

We want to hear from you! CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR LISTENER SURVEY. Or, email your thoughts to [email protected].

Distraction is sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.  It’s the college for students who learn differently! Landmark offers comprehensive supports for students with ADHD and other learning differences, both on campus and online. Learn more HERE!

Check out this episode!

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How Parents in Communities of Color Are Helping Children with ADHD

How Parents in Communities of Color Are Helping Children with ADHD

Today our guest host, René Brooks is joined by a trio of amazing women for a conversation about the unique needs of black children with ADHD.

Rhashida Perry-Jones is the founding coordinator of CHADD in Philadelphia. Nathalie Thandiwae is a neurodiversity resource navigator who helps parents identify and support their child’s unmet needs. And Dr. Loucresie Rupert is a child and adult psychiatrist who focuses on neurodiversity, as well as foster care and adoption. All three of today’s guests have children with ADHD and share their experiences and advice for other parents of Black and Brown neurodiverse children.

We’ll be releasing more of this conversation this week so keep an eye out for it, or subscribe to Distraction wherever you listen so you don’t miss an episode!

Distraction welcomes Black Girl, Lost Keys blog creator, René Brooks, as our guest host for ADHD Awareness Month! René is an ADHD coach, writer and advocate who also has ADHD herself. From Black Girl, Lost Keys website: René Brooks is a late-life ADHD success story. After being diagnosed 3 times as a child (7, 11 and 25) she was finally able to get the treatment she deserved. René decided that her passion for helping others should be put toward people with this disorder who are struggling in silence or shame. She started Black Girl, Lost Keys to empower Black women with ADHD and show them how to live well with the condition.

We want to hear from you! CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR LISTENER SURVEY. Or, email your thoughts to [email protected].

Distraction is sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.  It’s the college for students who learn differently! Landmark offers comprehensive supports for students with ADHD and other learning differences, both on campus and online. Learn more HERE!

Check out this episode!

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How To Help Your Child Stop Lying

How To Help Your Child Stop Lying

Lying is a common problem in children, but especially for those with ADHD. It’s a dangerous habit but it is a solvable problem and there are strategies you can use to work past it.

In this mini Ned responds to  concerned mom who reached out about her 11-year old son who is struggling with telling the truth. She’s tried various forms of punishment with little success and is concerned about her son ruining future opportunities and relationships because of the lying. Dr. Hallowell shares some insights and suggestions for our listener, along with a healthy dose of optimism too. 

Do you have a question or show idea? We’d love to hear it! Email us at [email protected]

This episode was originally released in March 2019. 

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Strategies for Raising Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More

Strategies for Raising Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More

Raising kids is tough, but raising neurodiverse kids can present extra challenges that parents of neurotypical children never encounter.  Elaine Taylor-Klaus of Impact Parents joins Ned to share some of the techniques she uses to help parents who are raising kids with ADHD, autism, depression and other complex issues.

Their discussion includes how parents can benefit from having a coach, and “Taking Aim,” the strategy Elaine uses to help caregivers narrow their focus and make one change at a time.

Elaine’s latest book, The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids, is available on her website HERE or wherever books are sold. 

If you have a question or comment about the podcast reach out to us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Ned’s new book is out now! Get a copy of ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or by clicking HERE. You can also find it wherever books are sold!  

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

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

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The What, When & Why of Neuropsychological Testing for ADHD

The What, When & Why of Neuropsychological Testing for ADHD

The process of reaching an ADHD diagnosis rests primarily on your    personal history. However neuropsychological testing can reveal a ton of useful information for expanding your understanding of your own ADHD. As Dr. H says in this ep, “It’s the closest thing we have to an MRI of your mind.” But as Ned also points out, this type of testing is not necessary for a diagnosis.

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

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

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today I’m going to do a very short mini on a very important question that comes up all the time in practices around the country and around the world, namely, when, and why, and how much do you get neuropsychological testing? First of all, what is it? There’s psychological testing, and then there’s neuropsychological testing. Well, psychological testing is the kind of thing, you’ve heard of the Rorschach test with the inkblots, and you say what you see there. You maybe have heard of the MMPI, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. You have certainly heard of IQ tests, many different kinds of IQ tests, the Wechsler probably being the most famous, these are all examples of psychological testing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s a series of questions that have been researched and normed. So they have some degree of validity in answering descriptions, all trying to give a description of the mind that the individual can’t self-report. They try to get at parts of yourself that are unconscious or out of memory, or simply not part of your everyday self-awareness, for example, your processing speed or the difference between your immediate memory, your recent memory and your distant memory, things like that you can’t self-report, or intelligence, whatever that means, different kinds of intelligence you can’t self-report.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So psychological testing is aimed at asking questions or getting you to perform exercises and tests that will help us quantify different elements of cognitive and emotional life, then neuropsychological testing adds an element of neurology. So this gets more at things like processing speed, or evidence of past head injury, or deficits in memory, the neurological elements. Well, the Rorschach can be used that way too, but neuropsychological testing adds in more of the biological exploration to the psychological exploration. And neuropsychological testing is what is commonly offered as part of the diagnostic workup for ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, this is a very important point that I’m about to make, and it’s widely misunderstood, so listen carefully. You do not need neuropsychological testing or any psychological testing to make a diagnosis of ADHD. There is no test for ADHD. Many people come to me and say, “Well, I don’t have it, I was tested and I don’t have it.” There is no test that can tell you whether you have it or you don’t have it, really important point. The closest thing we have to a definitive test for ADHD is your history, the story of your life beginning when you were born. And the diagnostic criteria are laid out in the DSM-5 and two sets of nine symptoms. And if you have six out of nine on one or both set, then you by definition have the diagnosis.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So the process of reaching a diagnosis rests primarily on asking you questions about your childhood and your immediate life and comparing them to the criteria as set out in the diagnostic manual, that’s it. Sure, there are qualifiers, you need to make sure it’s not something else, you need to make sure you’re in proper shape to offer your history. Usually best taken from two people, because people with ADD are not good self observers. With all of those qualifiers, it still comes down to your history and that is the truth.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, why do we offer neuropsychological testing? Because it can reveal a ton of important, useful information, not necessary for diagnosis, but certainly helpful in expanding your understanding of yourself or your child. Neuropsych testing is really the closest thing we have to an MRI of your mind. It gets at all sorts of things that you can’t self-report. You can’t self-report processing speed, memory scales, unconscious biases, a specific reading problem, a specific math problem. You can generally report them, but you can’t get more specific and detailed about them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So neuropsychological testing is very valuable, but it is not necessary. And this becomes important because it is expensive. And [inaudible 00:06:31] what city you’re in, the ballpark of $5,000. Now, if insurance doesn’t cover it, and some insurance policies will, some won’t, then you have to think long and hard before you want to plunk down $5,000. Now, if money is no object to you, please get it, it’s worth it, it’s always nice to have. But if you have to decide between spending the 5,000 on neuropsych testing or spending the 5,000 on followup treatment, coaching, tutoring, additional services, by all means, spend it on the additional services, the coaching and the tutoring, not on neuropsych testing. It’s a wonderful thing to have if you can afford it, but it’s not necessary. You do not have to have it in order to make this diagnosis, nor is it definitive.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And if the history, for example, says, yes, this is ADHD, but the neuropsych testing says, no, it is not ADHD, believe the history, because neuropsych testing is notorious for producing false negatives, that’s because the combination of structure, motivation, and novelty creates focus, essentially treats ADHD. For example, a video game full of novelty, full of structure, and you’re motivated, you want to win the game, so you focus. Kids with ADHD can focus for hours on a video game.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, neuropsych testing includes the same three elements. It’s done one-on-one, nothing could be more structured, it’s full of puzzles and games, novelty, and there’s a natural motivator because you want to beat the test, and that’s why a lot of kids and adults who have ADHD on the testing look as if they don’t, because the test itself treats the condition it’s trying to diagnose.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a quick summary of neuropsych testing, when to get it, why to get it. And I think the most important point for you to understand is it’s a wonderful thing to have if you can afford it. It’s expensive, but it is not necessary in order to make the diagnosis in a child or in an adult.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s it for me for this mini episode of Distraction. Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. Save 20% on your first order at omegabytewellness.com with the promo code podcast2020. And please reach out to us with your questions and comments by emailing [email protected] And if you’re on TikTok, you can find me there with the username @Dr.Hallowell. I’ve posted lots of videos about common ADHD issues, each one only 60 seconds. Take a look and let me know what you think. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the wonderful Scott Persson, and our producer is the also wonderful Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time when I will still be Dr. Ned Hallowell.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at OmegaBrite, and that’s britewellness.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:
I looked it up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:
Everyone knows your ringtone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Take Care of Kids’ Emotional Health First, Says One of Ned’s Favorite Teachers

Take Care of Kids’ Emotional Health First, Says One of Ned’s Favorite Teachers

Our guest today taught Ned’s children when they were young and he can’t say enough good things about her! Tracy Eisenberg is a 5th grade teacher at Shady Hill school in Cambridge, Massachusetts and knows how to teach neurodivergent kids, because she was one herself.

In this episode you’ll hear Tracy’s best advice for parents of school-aged children right now, how shame and disappointment affected her self-esteem growing up, and how an ADHD diagnosis in her 30’s confirmed what she already knew.

As Tracy tells Ned, she’s in the business of people, and helping her students become self-aware and achieve some agency in their lives is one of the things she loves about teaching!

City and Country School in New York City

Reach out to us with your questions and comments! [email protected].

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

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

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their omega-3 supplements for many years, and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at OmegaBriteWellness.com, and Brite is intentionally misspelled b-r-i-t-e. Omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College, another institution that I have warm, personal relationship with in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at LCDistraction.org.

Tracey Eisenberg:
I don’t know if they have that in Massachusetts, but they had the PSATs in New York and that was what you took in 11th grade, and I remember everybody huddling around the principal at my high school and everybody was showing him their scores. We had just gotten them in. And, I remember his looking at my score and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. And, he looked at it, and he looked up at me, right in my eye, and around all of these peers and he said, “Huh, you’re not going to college are you?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello. Welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. We have a truly special guest today. I know I always say the guests are special, and they always are, but this one has truly very personal significance to me, and I almost get choked up thinking about it, but Tracey Eisenberg is this wonderful woman’s name and she teaches school at the Shady Hills School in Cambridge, Massachusetts where all three of my children went.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s a pre-K through 8. Is it still 8, Tracey?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes, correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Pre-K through 8 and community-ed and it really is, I think, the perfect school. I’ve never seen a school that’s like it. It’s very hard to go to that school and not come out with a solid sense of who you are and liking yourself and liking life. It’s in the paint there. There’s just a respect for people and an encouragement to be playful and experiment and grow and develop, and Tracey is the embodiment of what that school represents and she just does it beautifully, wonderfully.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She taught one of my kids, Jack, who remembers her to this day as his favorite teacher. And, to give you an idea of what kind of teacher she is, one day, Jack came into class and he hadn’t done his homework. And, to cover it up, he raised his hand and sort of being a wiseguy, said… I don’t know what he called you, Ms. Eisenberg, or whatever, and said, “How about if you let me teach the class today?” And he, of course, thought she would say, “Jack, what are you being a wiseguy?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But, what did she say? She said, “Fine. Come right up and go at it,” and that was such a brilliant move. How many elementary school teachers would have the presence of mind and flexibility to know that, that’s exactly what this rather shy boy needed, was a chance to stand up and grow leaps and bounds in one school day and that’s just one of many examples of what a brilliant, creative, innovative teacher Tracey Eisenberg is. And, she’s in my hall of fame for sure, and she’s in Jack’s, and I know she’s in my wife’s hall of fame as well. It’s just you have no idea how loved you are, Tracey, by so many, many, many people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She also shares with me the gift of ADHD. She has it and, as you listeners know, I have it and she’s been very open about it, which is quite wonderful because it’s only in doing that, that we bring it out of the realm of shame and stigma, where it should not be. I know for a fact this condition is a potential super power and Tracey has lived that message and passes it along to her students.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, you didn’t come here to listen to me talk, but I just have to tell you what a treat it is to have you here, and I know you’ll be modest, but for listeners, this is a master teacher. This is someone who knows children, knows what she’s doing. It’s in her bones. It’s in her DNA. She just gets it. And, any child who is lucky enough to have her will be changed in a good way forever, witness my son, Jack. Well, that as introduction, welcome, welcome, welcome, Tracey Eisenberg.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Thank you, Ned. I’m not sure I’m speechless. You’re very kind and generous with your words.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, it’s absolutely true.

Tracey Eisenberg:
But, it is a pleasure to be here and I’m so glad to be able to connect with you live, at least in voice.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, me too. It’s quite wonderful. Well, tell us, first of all, what is it like teaching little kids because you’re not a college teacher, you’re an elementary school teacher. Kids who are squirrely and want to interact and breathe on each other and what is it like? How are you handling it at Shady Hill?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Well, first I have to say that we had to just jump into it last spring, and last spring, we were all in shock and we were, that saying, building the plane and flying it at the same time and we kind of limped through until June. It was a really hard spring for everybody. And, the school, Mark Stanek and everybody, the maintenance crew, they have worked so hard to get this school ready so we can have as many kids on campus at the same time.

Tracey Eisenberg:
So, we’re doing live school every other week for the middle school and every day for the lower school, and because of the numbers, and because we have such a large campus, we’re lucky enough that we can have the kids remain six feet apart in the classroom and outside of the classroom. But, what we needed to do, was increase teachers, so we’ve decreased the class size and increased teachers. So, I now have 12 students in my class.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what grade do you teach?

Tracey Eisenberg:
I teach fifth grade and I typically have 18 students, so I have one-third fewer students and it’s different. It’s incredibly different. But, the joy that the kids have when we’re on campus… I’m about to go on campus tomorrow for the second week, and there is… I can’t describe it. The joy that the kids have seeing each other live is… it’s heartening. They just want to be together. We’re social creatures and fifth graders are not independent enough to be successful on the computer, on Zoom, every day, all day. It’s just not who they are. They don’t have the skill set or the drive or the emotional stamina for it.

Tracey Eisenberg:
So, I feel really lucky that we can have every other week live and then, because my class is so much smaller, I can actually see all of my students on the Zoom screen at the same time, which changes the game. If I’d have to toggle between pages, I could have a couple of kids sitting under their kitchen table and I wouldn’t even know for a few minutes. So, it’s been a challenge, but the school has done everything they can. I couldn’t ask for them to do anything differently, or anything more, and the kids feel it.

Tracey Eisenberg:
They’re grateful to be on campus and they realize it and that’s kind of the special bi-product. [crosstalk 00:08:17]. We are so lucky we are here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And they’re all wearing masks, or not? Are they wearing masks?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Oh, yes. They wear their masks all the time. We have mask breaks outside, but then the kids have to be 10 feet apart and sitting and we spend as much time… They have tents all over campus and so we have outdoor classes whenever we can. Windows are open. Doors are open. We have the desks and chairs are six feet apart in the classroom, so we’re really cautious. But then, when we get to go outside and have classes outside, it’s like…

Tracey Eisenberg:
The kids, they’re incredibly resilient.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Tracey Eisenberg:
It’s just like, “Okay, if we’re having class outside, we’re having class outside,” and they’re doing it. I think that when the weather, the bad weather, rolls in, we just have to make sure that the kids have proper gear. There’s no bad weather, there’s only bad clothing. That’s what I heard, I think, from the Swedes. We need to get better clothing, I think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a great line. And, you ask the parents not to come on campus, right?

Tracey Eisenberg:
That’s correct. They can only drive and drop off their kids. They’re not allowed on campus, so every meeting that we have is via Zoom. I will never see parents in person on campus this year.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And, how does the online part of it work?

Tracey Eisenberg:
What do you mean? The actual teaching?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, last week you were online, correct?

Tracey Eisenberg:
That’s correct. So, what we’ve done differently, at least in the fifth grade, I can speak specifically about fifth grade because I think the older grades do things a little bit differently with the kids being more independent and capable.

Tracey Eisenberg:
But, in the fifth grade, we actually have a maximum of teaching time on Zoom for 3.5 hours per day, so the math teacher, the science teacher, myself, we have to coordinate. There are arts, but it’s abbreviated from what it used to be. So, the kids have 3.5 hours of explicit teaching and then the rest is, rather than asynchronous working tasks, where the kids would just be offline, we keep the camera on and we have the kids work independently so when they have questions, we’re right there.

Tracey Eisenberg:
So, between 8:00 and 3:00, the kids have access to a teacher, except for recess breaks and lunch break. So, they have an hour and a half of off-screen time entirely, they’re not looking at any computer screen, but at every other minute in the day, if they have questions about their assignments, their teacher is right there and rather than emailing back and forth, and having the hour or two delay, and it works so much better than it did last spring, significantly. Kids like it because they have access to one another.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What’s the difference?

Tracey Eisenberg:
We play games, we take breaks, we do silly things, as we would in the classroom, so they’re getting social nourishment. They’re getting the academic supports that they need in the moment. It’s not helpful to have a question and then get it answered four hours later, when you’ve lost momentum. And then, they also have time where they can be quiet, so even when they’re reading quietly, I have access to them and they have access to me. And that has made all the difference in the world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What’s the difference between the way you’re doing it now and the way you did it last spring?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Well, last spring, I think they were… I would teach for maybe an hour a day and I’d have access to them for an hour, or an hour and a half, and that’s it during the entire day. So, they would be working asynchronously and they would look at an assignment and inevitably, they had questions because kids, they need to ask two or three times just to make sure that they’re on the right track, or maybe they have no idea they’re on the right track and they couldn’t move forward.

Tracey Eisenberg:
So, then, assignments wouldn’t come in. They would email me a question, but I didn’t get it right away and then they put their assignment down and there was no traction. And now, we’re getting work done and the kids are feeling supported and it’s actually working for families because we have parents that are working from home and they’re not bothered by your kids saying, “I don’t understand what to do.” So, they get to work, the kids get their questions answered, they’re getting their work done and also, when they say they’re done, they can say, “I’m finished,” and then I take a look and I say, “Okay, let’s see how we can elevate your work. You wrote two sentences here, let’s see if we can elevate this to get another supporting idea.”

Tracey Eisenberg:
So, I can push them where they need to be, but when they’re working on it rather than a day late.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. So, asynchronous means they’re not together?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Whereas, you’re doing it now, you’re doing it synchronously, together.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes, the entire day, except for… And they love it. They love it. We’ll take stretch breaks. The school has implemented this great wellness app and the kids meditate every day and sometimes, we do it in the middle of the day. We’re experimenting when it feels best. We’re taking stretch breaks, meditating, playing games, being silly, and doing work.

Tracey Eisenberg:
So, they’re also nourished much more. I’m hearing fewer reports from parents that their kids are really sad and disengaged.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And, are you in your classroom when you’re doing this, or are you at home?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Well, it depends. When I have my son, I’m home, and then he’s on his classroom with his teacher. And then, when he’s with his other mother at her house, I sometimes go in. It really depends. We have total flexibility and support from the school to work from home or in the classroom.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How has it impacted the faculty? Do you still feel collegiality and togetherness?

Tracey Eisenberg:
That’s hard. That’s actually really hard. Do you remember Josh Horwitz, my colleague?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Tracey Eisenberg:
I think Tucker may have had Josh.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes. Well, I’m never on campus when he’s on campus and he’s one of my closest friends. We’ve been working together for 20 years. I haven’t seen him live since… Well gosh, probably this summer while we were on campus setting up our classrooms. But, it’s really different. We Zoom, we have our faculty meetings by Zoom, but those spontaneous connections that you get, it just doesn’t happen, walking on the paths, it’s just very infrequent.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you ever see Mr. T?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Oh, I do. I actually have his son and he had my son last year, so she’s a great guy, isn’t he?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. Please give him our regards. He had Lucy or Tucker, or both of them, I can’t remember.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You have so many wonderful teachers over there. Honest to goodness, I really do believe, and I’ve seen many, many, many, many schools. I think it is the closest thing to perfection in the world of elementary schools that there is out there and I’m so glad because most places, the kids are really complaining about how difficult the online part of it is. But, you found a way that the kids are enjoying it.

Tracey Eisenberg:
As much as they can. The kids prefer live, but if they have to have it online, being together all day is easier and more fun and engaging for them. They’re less alone.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. And the alternating… My big thing is connection and I talk about vitamin C, vitamin connect and the problems these days is we’re all living with a vitamin connect deficiency. My wife, Sue, who’s incredibly extroverted, she’s every day saying, “I need more people. I need more people.” It sounds like you folks at Shady Hill are doing the best you can to provide that vitamin C.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes. Mark made the most difficult decision, but the right decision. We were going to have the entire school on campus at the same time, rather than alternating the middle school A, B weeks. But, because of the metrics and then they’re been a couple of cases, he decided to decrease the density of people on campus and it’s the right decision because I think it will allow us to stay on campus even longer, but we do have it every other week, which will help sustain us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely, and I’m just so impressed and so heartened to hear this. I actually have a couple of patients of mine who were at Shady Hill and they’re reporting the same thing, you guys are handling it so well, and I’m not surprised.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
OmegaBrite, omegabritewellness.com, has been a sponsor for this podcast for I don’t know how long. I invited them to join us because my wife Sue and I have taken their omega-3 supplements for years and years and years. I’ve known Carol Locke, the woman who developed all the products, for many years. She’s a graduate from Harvard Medical School, and a superb physician, and incredibly careful with the products that her company creates. She has extremely high standards that are uncompromising. She’s also a really nice person. They’re a natural fit for the show because their products help with mood regulation, anxiety, as well as focus and attention as well as being good for your entire body, their powerful anti-inflammatory action.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You can find all of their supplements online at omegabritewellness.com. That’s omegabritewellness.com. And, Distracted listeners, you can save 20% on your first order by entering the promo code PODCAST2020. That’s Podcast2-0-2-0.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, back to the show.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Can we branch off and talk a little bit about ADHD, a condition you and I share?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes, please.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How did you find out about it?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Well, teaching, becoming a teacher helped me learn a lot about myself, but it took years… I’ve been teaching, this will be my 29th year of teaching and I have such an enormous sample size of teaching kids for 29 years and you start to see some similarities in struggles. So, what always started with… We noticed the kids that have ADHD, because we’re not celebrating them. We’re saying, “Hmm, something’s not working.”

Tracey Eisenberg:
Because, I think for kids with ADHD, school is the hardest time in their lives. They have to do everything that they’re told to do, in the way that might not be the best for who they are as a learner and that was true for me growing up in the 70s and 80s on Long Island in New York. It was really hard and I was not a successful student. So, I started teaching in New York, in the Village, at this small school, City and Country School, great school. Charming and the oldest progressive school actually. One year older than Shady Hill.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you hadn’t been a good student, why did you want to become a teacher?

Tracey Eisenberg:
It’s funny that you ask. I kind of felt into it. I don’t think my teachers would have predicted success for me. I didn’t test well, as most ADHD kids do not. I don’t know if they have that in Massachusetts, but they had the PSATs in New York and that was what you took in 11th grade, and I remember everybody huddling around the principal at my high school and everybody was showing him their scores, we had just gotten them in. And, I remember his looking at my score and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. And, he looked at it, and he looked up at me, right in my eye, and around all of these peers and he said, “Huh, you’re not going to college are you?”

Tracey Eisenberg:
And, I just grabbed the piece of paper away from him and I didn’t even know how to react. I just remember skulking away, mortified, and it was just a terrible moment. So, what happened? I do go to college. I go to community college to get my grades up. I get to University of Buffalo and kind of limp through that as well. I think the biggest role… I think it was my brother. My brother had this enormous impact on me. He was very paternal and he was very worried about me and I was just always flitting around and he was just saying, “Let’s go to Adelphi University and I want you to check out this teaching department, and I was like, “Oh, God. Teaching?”

Tracey Eisenberg:
I didn’t really feel like I had many skills to offer anybody anything, except I was funny and resilient.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Uh-huh (affirmative)

Tracey Eisenberg:
And that’s what I could identify at that point.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Uh-huh (affirmative)

Tracey Eisenberg:
And so, I started this education program at Adelphi and they let me in on as a trial basis if I could do well in a couple of classes, which I did, then they’d let me matriculate. So then I’m there, and then it’s time for me to start doing my student teaching and they put me into this school district where I grew up and I was like, “Oh God, I can’t do this again.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
God, talk about PTSD.

Tracey Eisenberg:
No, this was at Bellmore-Merrick, and I was like, “I can’t.” So, I went to talk to a professor and I said, “I’m thinking about dropping out of the program. I have no interest in going back to the place where I failed once. I can’t do it again,” and she said, “I want you to check out a school in the Village. It’s City and Country School. I want you to go, check it out and then come back and talk to me.” And, I had one of those moments where it was a turning point for me.

Tracey Eisenberg:
So, I walked into this really cool brownstone building and it was like walking into my home, and I loved it immediately, from the smells to the people, to then the curriculum that they were then describing. Their entire curricular from age 2 through age 14. And, I then volunteered there for two weeks and then they offered me to do my student teaching there and I never left. Six years later; I was there for six years until I moved to Boston. And, it was about teaching people, not just facts. It was about teaching the human being. It was about teaching character development, who are you as a learner?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Okay, let’s say you’re not the… Learning doesn’t come easily, but how do we get you to learn? How do we exploit your strengths and mitigate the weaknesses, and help you get through this really hard time in your life, which is school?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Tracey Eisenberg:
And I learned with the kids.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. That’s so beautiful. And why did you leave there [crosstalk 00:24:36].

Tracey Eisenberg:
And so, I fell into it. I had my brother to thank for this because then, it was something I became passionate about and I never had a passion. I didn’t have a passion. I didn’t think I could do anything. I was great at waitressing. I was good with people. I loved waitressing and I was like, “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll move to Europe and make that a career,” but it was an accident and then I fell in love with teaching and I fell in love with the kids, especially the kids who struggled the most.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Because I empathized with them and I was like, “I know, but it doesn’t have to be this hard and life will not always be this hard and hang in there. Let’s develop some tools.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you knew that firsthand?

Tracey Eisenberg:
I knew it firsthand, and I learned it firsthand with them. But, the first couple of years, I don’t think I knew it, but it was just like I found it while I was working with the kids. So, it was a two-pronged approach, two-for-one. The kids were learning and I was learning and I was like, “Wait a second,” and that’s what I loved about City and Country and Shady Hills School because I become a better teacher every year and they invest, and the same thing at City and Country School, they invest in the teachers. So, we’ve become better people, we’ve become better teachers and there’s nothing better than that. I’m still learning. Every year I learn with the kids.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, joining me now is Professor Eric Matte of the wonderful Landmark College, an institution from which I have an honorary degree. They’re also our wonderful sponsor, and they’re located in wonderful, beautiful, downtown Putney, Vermont, actually not downtown Putney, but outside of Putney. Welcome to the podcast, Distraction, Professor Matte.

Eric Matte:
It’s such a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having me, Dr. Hallowell, and thank you for all your influences, honestly on my teaching and the mission of Landmark College. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I can’t thank you and all your colleagues enough. Man, Landmark College really does an amazing job serving folks like me, folks that learn differently, and you’re the best in the business. I always love to speak to someone on the faculty there and just get a little insight. So, can you tell us what you particularly do at Landmark.

Eric Matte:
Well, in terms of the faculty at Landmark, I feel like one of the luckiest people possible. I came onto the faculty 21 years ago, the time when Landmark was just truly a mecca of education and learning and these incredible teachers that are on the faculty there and coming right out of graduate school with no teaching experience, I really learned Landmark College philosophy from .0, which is another one of our teaching principles, but just really learned how to teach there and influenced by some of the most incredible people there.

Eric Matte:
But, I am a faculty member, a professor of communication and I run the college radio station and teach about a dozen courses in communication and also, I coach the men’s basketball team.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s fantastic.

Eric Matte:
So, I wear many hats.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s fantastic. So, you know how good exercise is for our brain?

Eric Matte:
All the evidence is really conclusive on this and yeah, when we talk about training and working with students in the basketball realm, we really still talk about the whole student and complete wellness, but physical training is part of that. Physical fitness and with the guys, we emphasize not only training for basketball, but also functional, every day fitness; getting enough steps in, movement, sleep and obviously, nutrition, but that whole physical well-being.

Eric Matte:
And of course, as you know, increased memory and fitness is shown to help with executive functioning and time management and cognitive load and memory. We talk about it across all my hats at Landmark, how important just physical well-being is.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I also understand you’re a pioneer of online learning and boy, is that ever important these days. Do you have any brief remarks about that?

Eric Matte:
First of all, people can learn online and it is a new and really hot medium of education and we’re making this epic transition as educators into this new world of online learning.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Eric Matte:
I’ve been doing online teaching for a number of years now and I’m getting a lot more emails from my fellow faculty and colleagues out there about how to do this and how to do it effectively, but it can be done.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
People struggle with it. Can you give a few quick tips, both for teachers and for students, how to make online learning less onerous?

Eric Matte:
It comes back to good teaching. First of all, just being a content expert, obviously, and knowing your material. But, secondly, being flexible with your teaching abilities, diversifying assignments, being able to adapt your teaching to diverse learners and all people are diverse learners and are divergent in some way. So, those are two really important things, but the most important thing is the rapport, is the presence that you have with your students and making a connection. You have to work harder at rapport online, and so I talk about those things a lot in my work as well with how to build rapport through feedback and connections and assignments and engaging activities, asynchronously, synchronously, and how to do that.

Eric Matte:
Those three things, rapport and knowing your content and diversifying and adapting your teaching.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful. That’s really wonderful. That’s all the time we have. Thank you so much, Professor Eric Matte of Landmark College, the absolute best in the world at what they do. Thank you so much for joining us and a real pleasure to get a brief glimpse into your work at Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont.

Eric Matte:
Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you again. All right, to learn more about Landmark College, go to LCDistraction.org, that’s LCDistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
(music playing)

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Why did you move to Boston?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Love. Yes. And, it was either Boston or Washington, D.C. and Boston won out.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, she got a job in Boston and you followed her?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Well, she went to graduate school, yes. She went to graduate school to become a therapist actually. We’re no longer together, but I think, again another great woman, and also helping kids in a different way, more in line of work. But yeah, that brought me to Shady Hill.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Had you known you were gay all along growing up?

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes. I knew. The earliest memory I have is when I was eight years old and I wanted to marry my third grade teacher, Ms. [inaudible 00:32:53]. I don’t know where she is, but I knew. I would like for her to be my wife, but I didn’t have the language really. I didn’t know what lesbian was and I just knew it was also taboo. I wasn’t telling a lot of people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. So, here you were a different learner and your sexual identity was in a taboo place back then and you were groping your way along. Did you have a guardian angel or someone other than your brother who looked out for you?

Tracey Eisenberg:
I think my brother was the biggest guardian angel and still to today, he’s my number one champion. He is the most loyal person ever; that I’ve ever met.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Tracey Eisenberg:
And then, sure, we’ve had our difficulties, but the fact that I can call him on a dime and he would be here in a second.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Tracey Eisenberg:
But, I think that there’s a lot of luck. There’s a lot of luck. You pay attention to the opportunities. And, I always knew when I was good at something. I didn’t deny it. I knew I was a great waitress. I knew it and I knew I was funny. I was always the joker and I knew that that was one of the things that when my friends go together, we would have a great time. And, I also knew my limits.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Here’s an interesting thing, my brother and my father were… A couple of years into teaching and they’re like, “You’re going to be an administrator. You’re going to work your way up,” and I was thinking, “Whoa. No way. I do not have the skill set that is required to do that.” And it would then make my life miserable. Why would I do that? I don’t need the prestige, I don’t need the extra money, I’m not looking for that. I’m completely fulfilled. I’m getting better at what I’m doing every year and I don’t want to go anywhere.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Eventually, after year seven, and I was like, “No, no, no.” They stopped barking up… I was like, “Enough. I don’t have that skill set and I’m okay with it. I don’t need that skill set because I don’t want to be an administrator.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
When was the moment that you said okay, this ADD thing, I think I’ve got it.

Tracey Eisenberg:
I don’t even think I was the first person to say it. I think everybody around me knew it, kind of like everybody around me knew that I was gay, and they were just waiting for me to say it; because the behaviors are pretty obvious.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Tracey Eisenberg:
I present very… Obviously you know that boys and girls present very differently, generally; not everybody, but generally. My symptoms are very aligned with the male, very impulsive and very active, hyper, inattentive, all of those sorts of things. So, it was in my 30s that it was confirmed and I was tested for it and it was confirmed, but I already knew it. It was just okay.

Tracey Eisenberg:
But, by then, I also… Then, I started talking about this in the classroom. Then I started sharing my struggles with… I don’t even really think that we call learning challenges, learning disabilities. It’s just, we haven’t caught up. The language hasn’t caught up with us. It’s just different learning styles. It really is.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Let me tell you, Tracey, my name for it because I have it. ADHD is a terrible name. It’s not a deficit of attention at all. It’s an abundance of attention that challenges to control it and so I call it VAST, Variable Attention Stimulus Trait. So, it’s a trait. It’s like being left-handed. It’s not a disorder. It can become a disorder if you don’t know how to manage it, but it can become a tremendous asset, as it has in your life.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, it’s usually a little bit asset, a little bit problematic and my job is to maximize the upside and minimize the downside and you’ve just done that. The two most important things, marry the right person, find the right job, so you did that and you’re helping others do the same. So, when you… You didn’t every feel ashamed of having it.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Not as a grown-up. I felt a lot of shame because of my failures in elementary school. I just felt like a loser. I just couldn’t do anything. I wasn’t successful. I didn’t just have ADHD, I had trouble learning how to read, how to write; I had the whole gambit, it was just…

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you’re like me? You have dyslexia, too? I’ve got them both.

Tracey Eisenberg:
I don’t have dyslexia. I just have a language-based learning disorder, which influences… It’s different than dyslexia, but it just makes learning really hard and then years of compounded failure really takes its toll and I’m sure I was struggling with depression as a kid, but we just didn’t… I was pulled out for special classes, I graduated from high school with a non-Regents degree, which is the kind of standard degree that you get in New York State. I didn’t get that, which didn’t affect me at all in my life now, but growing up with these struggles and not having the supports in place or the people around to help me gather a tool-set, or [crosstalk 00:38:45]. That was hard. That was very hard.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Of course, it was hard. And now, you’re in the business of making sure it doesn’t happen to other kids. It was at Shady Hill that our first child, Lucy, was diagnosed in third grade when her teacher said to us, “I’ll ask Lucy a question and she’ll just smile. I don’t think she’s really heard me. Do you think she might have ADD?” And, I said, “Oh my gosh,” and my wife said, “Let’s go get a good evaluation.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, it was… I can’t remember her name but she married Mr. Vorenberg.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Amy Vorenberg. Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Amy Vorenberg, was then Amy Purcell. She diagnosed my daughter and changed her life forever. Lucy would have had exactly your story in another school.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And feeling bad about herself and all preventable by making this wonderful diagnosis, if it’s done properly in a strength-based context.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Right. It’s the strength-based context rather than the deficit context. Absolutely.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then, the way you treated Jack, who also has ADHD, made him feel proud of himself instead of I’m different. Yeah, we’re different, but different in a good way.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Right. We’re all different, every single one of us, but some of it’s more public. Some of our differences are public, which makes it hard for some.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Until you find a teacher like you, and then you start feeling proud of who you are.

Tracey Eisenberg:
And, I think at Shady Hill, that’s why I love working at Shady Hill because the teachers, that’s what we do. We’re in the business of people. It’s not so much… We’re teaching people and helping them become self-aware, help them achieve some agency in what goes on in their lives. I just love that. I just love when we talk about kids. We have to put the kids first and it’s just great.

Tracey Eisenberg:
And the community is so committed to it. We’re a lucky community because it’s curated. It’s a curated community and so the parents are committed, the kids, for the most part, are really committed, the teachers are committed, so we have an embarrassment of riches over there, but everybody deserves this for sure [crosstalk 00:41:24] the environment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Talk about agency, when Jack says, “Why don’t you let me teach the class today,” and you say, “Okay.” Holy moly. That was a life-changing moment and most teachers would have said, “Sit down young man and do what you’re told.” That’s not the Shady Hill way.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, to wrap up, do you have any thoughts for listeners about how they can help their children during COVID and obviously, the model at Shady Hill is one that’s worked very well there, but a listener says, “My kid is struggling,” do you have any general thoughts?

Tracey Eisenberg:
I guess I would say, and I’m thinking about this certainly in terms of my own son, so I have thought about this. I even say this to my students sometimes when they get really stressed about an assignment, let’s say. I think I have a point here, but we’ll figure that out in a minute. But, if they get really stressed out about an assignment, I’ll say, “Listen… ”

Tracey Eisenberg:
They’ll say, “I stayed up until 11:00 doing this homework,” and I’ll say, “Listen, this is fifth grade. You’re not curing world hunger. I would prefer a well-rested child than a finished homework assignment. If you’ve been late for every assignment, we need to have a different conversation about why this is happening. Any given assignment is not worth you sacrificing sleep.”

Tracey Eisenberg:
And I think we, as people, as parents, as teachers, this is a crazy time. This is a worldwide pandemic and I think that what we have to do is first and foremost, take care of the emotional health of our kids. So, if their kids are struggling because they’re stuck on Zoom, and you have the opportunity, because not everybody has this opportunity, to go outside and get fresh air and don’t worry so much about any given homework assignment. They’re not taking a medical exam. Forget the math. Forget the essay. Cozy up on the couch, watch a movie together, because no one is going to remember that math sheet.

Tracey Eisenberg:
If they’re struggling with math so much, again, that’s going to be a different conversation. Then, we have to take care of a math deficit in a different way, but I would say emotional health first and make sure that your child feels connected to the family, because that’s their primary and try to get them out socially as much as you can. FaceTime with other kids in real time, real life, six feet apart, kicking a ball around, and not worry about the small stuff, which is the daily homework. If they don’t get in a couple of assignments, that’s okay. For me, that’s okay. I would just say, what I want is for my son to maintain healthy relationships, to stay intellectually engaged and realize that this will pass. It may change our lives forever. We’ll never forget this time. This is… My son said the other day, he said, “When there’s a cure and we have a vaccine, everybody in the world is going to be happy about the same thing.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What a great remark.

Tracey Eisenberg:
“Has that ever happened before,” and I’m like, “I don’t really think so.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, the polio vaccine.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Yes, okay, there it is. See, neither one of us was around during that time, but yes. But, this is our time. Everybody is affected, so I just try to put things in perspective, which is so easy to say because there are people that are starving, they’re hungry, they can’t pay their bills. So, I don’t have any words of wisdom, I suppose.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, you’ve already spoken so many, and I think you embody… I always say if schools would take connectiveness scores as seriously as they take reading and math scores, we’d be serving our kids a lot better and you absolutely embody that. You’re all about that, pushing connection and its many different shapes and sizes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I can’t tell you how special you are and I really, really mean that and I know I speak for thousands of people that you’ve touched and the wonderful school that you are a master teacher at. Actually, saying master teacher is against the Shady Hill ethos because they don’t want to promote one person over another, but you are a school that’s all about connection and cooperation and growth and experiment and play, in the best sense of that word.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just thank God that my son wandered into your classroom and I know I speak for so many parents out there and I’m so glad that you’re able to now repair, or give to kids, what you didn’t get and thanks to your brother and others, you were resilient enough to make it through a champion. I can’t thank you enough. Thank you so, so, so much for joining us today.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Oh, Ned, thank you. It’s an honor to be a part of your show and I was just thrilled when you invited me and I just enjoyed talking to you, immensely.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thanks a million, Tracey. Take care.

Tracey Eisenberg:
Take care. Bye-bye now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Well, that’s going to do it for today. Wasn’t she fantastic? I love everything about her and what she stands for and what they do at her school and there’s no reason that schools everywhere can’t take more of that approach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Please, continue to reach out to us with your questions, comments and ideas. Write an email or record a voice memo on your phone, and send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] Please like Distraction on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. You can also now find me on my new project. I’ve started TikToking. Go to TikTok and you can see some videos there. My handle is @drhallowell, @drhallowell. I’d love to know what you think, truly would love to know. It’s a new venture for me.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the estimable Scott Persson, that’s with two esses and our producer is the equally estimable, Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell thanking you so much for joining us and once again, thanking the wonderful, magical Tracey Eisenberg for being our guest. Good-bye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Advice for ADHD Parents Raising ADHD Kids

Advice for ADHD Parents Raising ADHD Kids

Raising children is tough. Having ADHD and raising children with ADHD is really tough. In this week’s mini podcast episode, Dr. H responds to one dad looking for help.

“I have ADHD and four of my children have been diagnosed with ADHD by their pediatricians. I wish I were a confident guide for them about how to thrive with this condition, but instead I’m a mess… What can I do to make sure they are best prepared to thrive when I can’t show them by example?” 

Ned offers reassuring advice that’s applicable to everyone facing a similar struggle. 

Books mentioned in this episode: Delivered from Distraction

Superparenting for ADHD

Can you relate to what Dennis wrote? Let us know what you think. Email [email protected].

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

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

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is 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. 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.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to “Distraction”. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Today, I want to respond to a question we received from one of our listeners named Dennis. And, by the way, we love getting these questions. Dennis wrote, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell. I have ADHD and four of my children ages 15, 13, 10, and eight have been diagnosed with ADHD by their pediatricians. I wish I were a confident guide for them about how to thrive with this condition, but instead I’m a mess. I was diagnosed at age 37 after having developed anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder. All the kids have taken Ritalin, but none takes it regularly because of the way it suppresses the appetites of the two oldest.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The current pediatrician sees no problem with not taking it as long as they are doing well in school. My wife is inclined to use the same gauge for the necessity usefulness of the medication. But, I have seen my kids lose confidence and joy as they’ve aged, and I’m sure it’s partly because of typical ADHD woes. I think they just hide the effects well, as I did when I was a child. What can I do to make sure they are best prepared to thrive when I can’t show them by example? Should I try to get them under the care of an ADHD expert? If so, how do I even find one? I’ll appreciate any suggestions you offer. Dennis”.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, first of all, Dennis, I think you’re a whole lot better than you think you are, just judging from the letter you wrote. You’re a caring, attentive, loving father. And I think, like an awful lot of adults with ADHD, you sell yourself short. And you don’t need an ADHD expert. They are hard to find. I don’t know where you live, but the most reliable way is to go to the nearest medical school and go through the department of child psychiatry. That’s where most specialists reside, in medical schools and department of child psychiatry. But, failing that, just get one of my books. Honestly, not to peddle my own wares, but they’re very good. And I would get “Delivered from Distraction” or “Super Parenting for ADD”. Either one of those would have more than you could possibly need or want. “Delivered from Distraction” or “Super Parenting for ADD”. And read those and you’ll become an expert, not only for your kids, but for yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And learning about this condition is the single best way to master it, to turn it from a liability into an asset. And that’s the goal. I don’t treat disorders. I help people unwrap their gifts. And the way to do that is to understand the condition, the ins and outs, the nooks and the crannies, like a Thomas’ English Muffin, which I had one this morning. A lot of nooks and crannies, a lot of little holes, a lot of interesting terrain in the world of ADHD. And the more you can understand it, the more you can anticipate the pitfalls and take advantage of the upsides. Regarding medication, I think you’re wrong to say don’t bother with it as long as you’re doing well in school because they may still be struggling even though they’re putting up good grades. You can be number one in your class and be struggling, not be performing as well as you otherwise could.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s like needing eyeglasses or driving on square wheels. So, I would not use grades as a gauge of whether or not you need it medication. However, I would work with your pediatrician, or whatever doctor you do see, to find a medication where you have no side effects other than appetite suppression without weight loss. So, you have to eat. And the best meal to pig out is breakfast. Have a high calorie breakfast: eggs, pancakes, bacon. If you’re in a hurry, make a shake with yogurt and ice cream and some frozen fruit or fresh fruit, whatever, and some powdered protein. You want to get some protein in for sure. But, 80% of the time you can find a medication regimen where you have no side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss. And then you should take it every day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In fact, you’ll want to take it every day because it’s nice having eyeglasses instead of having to squint, or it’s nice having round wheels instead of driving on square wheels. So, I would learn about the condition, read my books. If you want to find an ADHD expert, go to the nearest medical school, the department of child psychiatry, and then work with your doctor to find a medication regimen where you can take the meds every day, including weekends, without side effects, just with target symptom improvement. And if you do that, confidence will rise because it’s nice to do well. And if they’re doing okay without medication, imagine how much better they can do with medication. And, again, the anxiety and depression that so often accompanies ADD is usually due to the fact that the ADD itself is not well-treated. You feel anxious because you know you’re missing stuff, and you feel quote/unquote depressed because you’re underachieving, you’re frustrated, and it’s disheartening to underachieve, not do as well as you know you could do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I hope that answers your questions. They’re very good questions, and you are a very good dad. Thanks so much for writing in, and keep us posted. Let us know how this goes. Well, I want to, once again, thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve been taking their omega-3 supplement for years and recently started their CBD supplement as well. OmegaBrite products, I trust them because I know the woman who’s in charge of the company, a Harvard Medical School graduate. She’s very fussy about quality, efficacy and is always looking to make sure that the product she has is the best in the business. And “Distraction” listeners can save 20% off their first order with the promo code “podcast2020” at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Remember to reach out to us with your questions, thoughts, and show ideas, just as Dennis, who wrote in. We love to get your questions. We will answer them and keep you informed and up-to-date. To do it, to send us an idea or a question, send an email or a voice memo. Those are great because we can play them on the air. Send an email or a voice memo to [email protected] That’s the word “connect” at distractionpodcast.com. And check us out on social media. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’re working hard to develop much more of a social media presence, so help us out with that, would you please? “Distraction” is created by Soundscape Media. Our producer is the wonderfully perfect and estimable Sarah Gertin, and our recording engineer and editor is the brilliant, talented Scott Persson, and that’s “person” with two S’s. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode 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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How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

Being a parent is hard, and it doesn’t come with a handbook. If you find yourself fighting with your kids and feeling frustrated by them, Katherine Winter-Sellery offers some effective strategies you can use to help you bring harmony to your home.

Katherine’s next Guidance Approach to Parenting class begins September 28th, and she is offering a special discount to Distraction listeners! Save 20% with the promo code: DrNed20. Click HERE for more information.

To download a copy of the free e-book, 7 Strategies to Keep Your Relationship with Your Kids from Hitting the Boiling Point, go to ConsciousParentingRevolution.com.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write and email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

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

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is 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. 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.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Glad to be with you again. We’re all aware of how much life has changed since this pandemic started. And with everyone staying at home more, there of course will be disagreements and conflicts in your household particularly if you have kids. My guest today is here to help. Isn’t that great, we always bring people in who can help. Her name is Katherine Winter-Sellery, and she’s taught thousands of parents as well as executives about how to be better communicators. She joins me today to help us all maintain harmony in our homes and our relationships. Catherine, welcome to Distraction.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to be with you today. It’s great to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Tell me, how did you get into this area of working with parents and their kids?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I started, well, literally 30 years ago, more or less close to 31 years ago. I’d studied Chinese and speak Chinese and was working as a commodities trader, running a firm in Hong Kong trading commodities. And then I started having kids and my husband is an architect. And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you have ADD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not diagnosed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ll bet you do most commodities, and your life story, anyway-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I wouldn’t be surprised.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Anyway, so there you are speaking Chinese, trading commodities [crosstalk 00:02:22]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I’m sure there’s so many undiagnosed out there. Oh my gosh.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Totally.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So there you are speaking Chinese trading commodities and you started having children-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And started having children. And we had a son and here we were very successful professionals who were complete dear in headlights when it came to like, Oh my gosh, what do we do? A discipline issue would show up and I didn’t have a method to approach conflict resolution or coach for better behaviors. Other than that, tried and tested and failed from my perspective at least, rewards and punishment thing. So I became a student of conflict resolution. I’d also gone to law school. So I had a natural interest in that. And I just became passionate about communication in families and ecosystems and developing ways to create change in behavior without doing it and paying such a high price for it, which you do. You pay a high price when you use a heavy hand that that makes someone feel ashamed of their behavior rather than it’s a teachable moment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. So you developed this method over a few years I gather and tell us about it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, it’s actually over like decades. I started with Dr. Thomas Gordon, Parent Effectiveness Training and became, I found that course and took it over and over and over again, and finally became actually a trainer for them. And then I studied with Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication and the father of restorative justice in American prison systems. And I sat at his feet and just took every word in and made it, it just became my passion.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
His name was John Rosenberg?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
No, it’s Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. Okay. And what kind of doctor is he?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is a doctor of psychology. He was the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, CNVC.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. That’s great. And he’s a psychologist, he’s a PhD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is, yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. [inaudible 00:04:40] To look him up. Restorative justice [crosstalk 00:04:42]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally, restorative justice in the American prison system was all because of Marshall.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. So what brought you to him?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, life is such a… you meet somebody, you meet somebody, and I was at a conference in Brisbane and I was there with the Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia who I’d received some certifications to train under their banner. And there was a conference and the woman speaking at the conference was the author of a book called Children are People Too. Her name is Dr. Louise Porter and she was the keynote. And I literally hung on every word that came out of her mouth. And I strategically positioned myself at the dinner next, I got to sit next to her. And it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And she gave me her book and she and I began a conversation because she had some ways of looking at communication that were different than Gordon. And I wrote to her after reading her book and said, “Wow, are you sure about this?” And she said, “I’m pretty sure I’m happy to have a discourse.” So that became a really interesting, we became pen pals, looking at some of the techniques around communication and connection. And the thing that she brought to my attention that was so powerful is that when you say to anyone, “I feel so upset when you don’t clean up the kitchen.” That there’s a lot of blame that the feeling that I’m experiencing was because of their action. And we all know other people don’t make us feel the way we do. That we can’t blame other people for our feelings. And it opened my mind to how deeply embedded, and it was actually something that I guess became much more nuanced for my own ability to communicate honestly, and not blame other people for the feelings that were coming up in me, but yet to want to talk about their behavior.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
So this just took me to a whole another level and she introduced, she came to Hong Kong. I brought her there as an expert speaker at my children’s school. And she saw that I had a book called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, which I had gotten at that event, that conference where I’d met her. And she said, “Have you read it?” And I said, “I haven’t yet.” “Oh, that was the best book I read last year.” So I feverishly read it and fell in love with yet another gem. And the gem in that moment was that I chose how I heard you. I get to choose how I hear you. Not just, I get to choose how I communicate, but I get to also choose how I hear what’s being communicated. And that just opened my mind, that I actually have a choice about how I hear other people. And all of this in the end over many, many, many, many years, eventually Louise and I created a program together with another colleague that I had been teaching with at the time. And that’s the course that I’ve been running now for 12 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s called Conscious Parenting?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It is. It’s the guidance approach to parenting. And it is part of this conscious parenting revolution that I’m just, it’s become sort of my reason to get up every day and make a contribution, is that families hurt and misunderstandings create breakdowns. And the people we care the most about, sometimes we find ourselves in such a difficult position, we’re not connected, we don’t have the warmth that we wish we had or that we had when they were maybe little and somehow it’s been lost along the way. And I know it breaks people’s hearts.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, it does. If people want to read about it, learn about it, where would a listener go to learn about this? Is there a website?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. consciousparentingrevolution.com is the website. And I have a free ebook, which people can take and digest, and it has strategies. And I have blogs as well that people can just enjoy, every week I put a new blog up and it just starts the healing process. Everybody wants healing and they want to create that connection that just makes all the difference. It’s why we have children. It’s to have that beautiful deep connection where we feel so much a part of each other’s lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, the people who would go or people who are having conflict in the family and they’ve drifted away from their children, something like that?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a whole variety of clients, if you will. There’s everything from the, my kids are really young and I don’t want to get it wrong. And so I’m looking for some support. It’s one of the only things in the world that we do without training, if you will.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The biggest job on the planet is parenting. And so very few people actually go in prepared and accidentally they develop resentment flows. So retaliation, rebellion and resistance, it’s called the three Rs. And they are what happens in relationships. And if you can start by not creating the three Rs and the resentment flows, wonderful. And if you’ve done it and you didn’t even realize it was because of the way that you were parenting, and you thought that you just had kids that were disrespectful or didn’t pay attention or never listened to you, or didn’t cooperate, then it might actually not be about them. It could be that they’re in reaction and you can change the whole thing by changing how you’re approaching conflict resolution.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you used a term that I’ve never heard before. What’s a resentment flow?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
A resentment flow is also a secondary problem. Let’s take a simple example where you’re asking a young child to pick up their toys and help you clean the table off to get set it for dinner. And they ignore you, and you ask them again and they ignore you. And then you start saying things like, “If you don’t do as I’ve asked, no dessert.” And they say something like, “I don’t even like that stupid dessert.” And then you say, “All right, if you don’t help me out, no TV.” And you just keep upping it. And that finally ends with them running upstairs, slamming the door and saying, “I hate you daddy. Or I hate you mommy.” That’s a resentment flow.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a resentment flow. Why don’t you just call it an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Because, well, I guess you could call it an argument. The resentment is that it starts to damage the relationship because they’re resentful of way that you spoke to them. And you’re resentful of the lack of communication or the lack of support or the lack of harmony or the lack of them doing what you wanted them to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is there something specific about a resentment flow that distinguishes it from an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, I think the key here is whether it stays past that moment, if it stays beyond, like we just had a disagreement, everything is fine, but when they run upstairs and slam the door and say, “I hate you.” And then you impose the punishment that you said you were going to do, “No TV for a week.” Then not only do they hate you in the moment, but it goes on and on and on. And ultimately the thing was about getting the table tidied, and now we’re so far away from what’s called the primary issue, and everything is now about the secondary issue, which is how I feel about my mom or dad, because they don’t get me. And all they ever do is demand that I do this demand that I do that. And they never see it from my side. They don’t even understand me. It’s a breakdown.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Walk us through that scene, doing it the way a conscious parent, who had done the revolution-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Would do?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, how would she do it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Okay. So when a child says no to you, a conscious parent looks at the no as a yes to something inside of themself. So, I get curious about when they’re saying no to me and not doing as I was hoping that they would do, why are they doing that? What’s going on inside of them that’s getting in the way of them doing what I was hoping that they would do? I then shift from repeating my side over and over and over again, what I want. And I shift to wondering about what’s going on for them. So it would go something like this. My daughter’s name is Pear. “Pear, it seems like you’re really involved in something on this table with all your toys. And I was hoping that you could tidy it up, but because I see that you’re really into this and you can’t even take my side into consideration. I’m wondering, are you worried that the way you’ve got it set up right now, if we move it, it’s going to wreck your game?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And then I would probably get, “Yeah.” I mean, “I got everything set up just the way I want it. And if we move it, it ruins my game.” “Oh, I see. So you’re trying to figure out how to do what you want to do and you can’t figure out how to do that and also do what I want you to do?” “No, mom, it’s like, you always get your way and I never get mine.” “Oh, I see. So you just feel like, I just want you to do what I want you to do, and I’m not ever thinking about what’s important to you?” “Right. You just want me to do what you want.” “Oh, okay. Well actually that’s not what I want. I want your needs to be met and my needs to be met. What do you think we can do so that both of our needs could be met here?” “I don’t know. I don’t have any idea. What do you think I could do? I don’t know. Mom, what do you think?” “Well, I mean, I have a couple of ideas. If I take a picture and we move everything and then set it up, we could use the picture to help us figure out what to, and how to set it up. That’s one thought, what do you think about that?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
“Well, I guess we could do that. Or there’s that cardboard box in the garage. Maybe we could just place everything in the box and then I can just move it around the house.” “Well, that would work too.” And then we just kind of go into the problem solving. So we stay on the issue at hand, which is that I just wanted to get the table cleared and the resistance to that wasn’t disobedient or disrespectful or any of those kinds of things. It was someone not being able to figure out how to meet their needs and my needs at the same time. So children are people too. And if we begin to look at resistance as not as defiance, but as there’s something in them that is getting in the way or blocking their ability to cooperate. And as long as there are no built up resentment flows, it’s as simple as they can’t figure out how to meet my needs and their needs at the same time. And so it’s really easy for us to figure out ways to problem solve collaboratively.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just have such a inner bristle to jargon, but okay, I’ll go with resentment flows. Because what [crosstalk 00:16:17]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, actually it’s interesting that that’s, Thomas Gordon was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times based on his research regarding resentment flows. And so what Gordon discovered is that when you use a controlling form of discipline and you demand that a child do something, and then you punish if they don’t, what you generate is a resentment flow. And that appears as retaliation, rebellion and resistance. So the three Rs and the research around that is what gave him the nomination.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I get it. And it’s brilliant. And it’s wonderful. I just hate jargon. But resentment flow, fine. He’s introduced the term and used it eloquently. I’d never heard it before. And I always balk at jargon. I would say, why not just put it in plain English, but I think we can all identify with the resentment flow, know what it is, and certainly work around it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. For the past three months I’ve been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD and listeners know that bright is spelled B-R-I-T-E. So it’s Omega B-R-I-T-E C-B-D. As I’ve mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend, Dr. Carol Locke graduate of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. They’ve been making the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Carol and her team decided to break new ground and having set the standard for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of Omega-3’s. And they brought that same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. I take it myself. It helps me with my reactivity, my impatience. It just puts a smoother edge. In no way, is it a buzz or a high, anything like that. It’s way more subtle, but it’s a very noticeable subtle effect. And one that I’ve come to really appreciate as I take it every day. So, all right. Get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com and now Distraction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code, podcast 2020. That’s podcast 2020, go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did, just as I am.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What you were saying reminds me a little bit of Ross Greene and collaborative problem solving, do you think there’s an overlap there or not?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, for sure. I mean, there’s so many collaborative problem solving models.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. The spirit is very much the same.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s wonderful. It’s really wonderful. And you have courses on it or how does it work?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, no, I do have courses. I’m in a course right now and I’ve S I’ve literally taught thousands of people over decades, where up until now I would be running courses in schools to parent communities in person. And with the sort of advent of the new world, I just transitioned to doing this online. And I have a group that I’m taking through the process now, and I have another group starting September 28th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how long does it take? So if a listener said, boy, I really want to learn how to do this. It sounds so freeing getting out of struggles with my kids. What would they do? They’d sign up for-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
They can sign up, my initial course is a 90 day parenting reset. And so over the course of three months, we do a coaching call every week that I do online with my group. And then every week I also give them pre-recorded sort of lesson with worksheets for them to not just understand it conceptually, but begin to land it in the way they’re changing and shifting their behavior. So, it’s a period of three months where we begin to actually take on the underlying beliefs that get in the way of looking at children as people too. There’s some shifts that have to happen around our beliefs about children should be obedient and compliant. They should do as they’re told there’s something actually around parents not generally looking as their children’s right for autonomy, for example, should be honored because they’re children and they have no right to autonomy, but actually everyone has the need for autonomy, including children. So some of our beliefs about children are getting in the way of actually truly being with them like we would any other human being.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, indeed. Having raised three of them, early on we treated them as autonomous beings and they were wonderful. They’re three very happy adults now. In fact, similar to you when we started having kids, I realized here I am a Harvard trained child psychiatrist and I know nothing about how to raise children and particularly about how to instill joy. I was an expert on misery. I knew a lot about misery, but I didn’t know much about how to instill joy. So I did research and I wrote a book called, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness and of my 20 books. It’s my favorite one. It really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Wow!

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s the manual that we use to raising our kids, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. And you’re so right. How you treat them really matters and to get into what you call resentment flow. I just call the big struggle and so many families, they just live in the big struggle and it’s damaging on both sides. So if someone wanted to take your course, they go to consciousparentingrevolution.com?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, they do. And actually, I think I had it in the show notes, or I spoke to Sarah about it that I would give your audience a 20% discount so that there’s some appreciation to you for having me on and that they get to benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what is the fee?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The fee is 497. And so a 20% discount, I think puts it at 397 or something like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Something like that. Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s for the 12 week course, and it’s truly amazing value. So, it’s really a lot of hands on support over the course of 12 weeks and the gems, the gems from my own experience over 20 years, starting at the beginning, really it’s been longer than that because our son is 25 and he was two. When I started down the journey of recognizing that, how I’m being with regard to sorting out problems, mediation, working together with one soul to another in moving forward to resolve an issue, it’s no different with children than it is with adults. And if I have demand language, I’m going to activate the three Rs, if I have consideration for their needs and I model it, then they are naturally considerate of my needs.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s just about modeling.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s such a beautiful concept. And if they sign up for the course, it’ll be online and how many others are in the course?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a group right now of 17, so it’s a very intimate group.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it allows for everybody to learn on Monday when the module is dropped in and they can listen to it as often as they want. A lot of the information it’s the first time they’ve heard about it. I do a whole unit on self-esteem for example, and how we have probably grown up where our worth has somehow been confused with our competence, and breaking that so that children have a sense of feeling worthy, whether they’re good at baseball, whether they excel at tennis, whether they got an A on the test, de-linking competence from self-worth and just all these ways in which we accidentally, and I do think it’s accidental, no one intends to link someone’s competence to their worthiness. And yet when we’re trying to get our kids to be capable and competent, that message somehow does get communicated, that they love me if I’m good at this and they’re not so happy with me if I’m not. And my love and belonging is linked somehow to my capacity to be good at Chemistry or excel at Biology, or be a star on the tennis team.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do you break that? How do you-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
How do you break that?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, you create the ecosystem in your family where the sense of love and belonging, I love you worths and all, I love you, you have to be intentional about it. You have to be languaging, my love for you doesn’t matter. And also break the habit of rewarding the wanted behaviors, because we can’t just give the, let’s go out and celebrate and have an ice cream only if they do the level of performance that we wanted. Let’s go out and have an ice cream if you failed, because I just want to be with you and let you know that I know how hard this is and how disappointing. And I can imagine this is a real struggle for you right now. And let’s go do something that’s enjoyable and fun together, and let’s have a chuckle and a laugh over it. Let’s be there for our kids in all the ways that we think when we’re behavioralists that we only reward the behaviors that we want so we get more of them.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Let’s break out of that mold completely and stop treating our children like their dogs. And we just give them a treat when they’re good so we get more good behavior and we give them a little smack on the bottom when they’re bad, so that they never do that again. That whole world doesn’t work.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right now. Of course, it doesn’t. And how do you counter the messages that society puts out? That you’re only as good as your most recent triumph?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, absolutely. I mean, you have to be intentional. You have to be intentional and you have to have the conversations at the dinner table, and you have to have the conversations in the car, and you have to have the conversations every time you see their little faces sink, because they are in the world of external locus of causality. They’re out there comparing themselves to others. They’re out there thinking that if little Johnny next door is better at this than I am, then somehow they’re more worthy than me. So, it has to be languaged. It can’t just be assumed. We have to know how to sit down with our children and say, “I can see you’re really upset and that it’s hard for you to celebrate with other people’s successes,” because somehow we don’t know where the languaging came and the message was delivered, that you look to other people to determine whether you’re worthy or not. We need to stop that, in our family, we’re going to put up big signs that say, “It’s acceptable to fail here.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
We’re going to put up big signs that say, “If you didn’t make a mistake, you’re not learning.” We’re going to try to overcome the messaging of society, every single turn of the corner, so that the children and our family know that it’s not about that. And that this is not whether, they do well or not. It’s that no matter how they do, how are we with each other and how are you with yourself?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s like the line from the poem, “If.” It’s written on the tunnel heading to the center court at Wimbledon, it goes, “If you can look at triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters, just the same.”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Beautiful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I think it’s, [crosstalk 00:28:45] Yeah. I mean, it’s a wonderful lesson to learn young. I’ve always said to my kids just, “It’s the love of the game. The victories and the defeats are part of the game. And so, as long as you love the game, you win, that’s the victory in life is finding a love of the game.” And just what you were saying, these poor kids think they’re worthless if they’re not number one, and I call it the great Harvard fallacy, that if I can get into Harvard, then I’ve got it made. And if I don’t, then I’m a second rate. And the kind of, well, just what you’re saying. And I think you’re so right. You have to consciously and deliberately oppose that because society is sending out constant messages of, you’re only as good as your-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
GPA?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, exactly. And then-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s heartbreaking. I mean, it’s so heartbreaking as you and I both know in Hong Kong, it has the largest or the highest suicide rate among young women in the world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh boy.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And there’s so much pressure on these kids that if they don’t, it’s a very, I’m going to call it, I hope I don’t get in trouble draconian educational style, and it’s very much achievement oriented. It doesn’t celebrate all kinds of brains. It just celebrates a very linear, sequential, achieving scientific brain. And for the creative child that thinks out of the box and doesn’t fit into that mold and is definitely not going to do well in that system. There’s a sense of them being made to believe that they’re not as good as other people, that there’s something wrong. And not only that, they’re losing face for the whole family. It’s bringing shame to the whole clan.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yup. And they’re my ADD guys, and they’re going to change the world for the better if they’re not broken through the educational system. And the Chinese are catching on. They want us to come over and teach them divergent thinking. They want us to come over and teach them creativity. And they don’t realize that they’re regimented system literally beats the creativity out of these kids.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. I went to teach it, Hong Jo University in 1983, and I was young. I just graduated and I get to [Hong Jo 00:31:14] And they say to me, “What we really want you to do is teach them how to think.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And I thought, wow. I don’t even know where to begin. And that’s such a part of the American education in so many ways. I think it may still be one of the strengths, is there’s a round table where you do, do a lot of just conversation and thinking, thinking, thinking, and brainstorming. And that is a really beautiful way to just open your mind to possibilities.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. I mean, that’s what… I went to a high school at a school called Exeter in New Hampshire and all it was a boarding school and all of the classes were taught at round tables and it was all Socratic. So it was all about open-ended questions. And you were always imaginatively engaged. Is the opposite of drilling and memorizing. And I saw the value of this. I consulted for a few years to the Harvard Chemistry Department because they had a bunch of suicides there. And one of the things I learned during my time there, they get the best applicants from around the world. They have five Nobel Prize Winners on the faculty. In every year a new crop, and it’s a big department, over a thousand postdocs and graduate students. And every year a new crop arrives in Cambridge and the mandate is go into the lab and discover new knowledge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, one group runs into the lab just eager to mix chemicals and blow up the building, but the other group freezes up and says, “No, you’ve got to tell me what to do. I’ll do anything you want. I’ll run your experiments all night if you want me to, but you have to tell me what to do.” And that’s the group that basically had their imagination snuffed out back around fifth grade when they got the message that do exactly what you’re told. And if you do that, then you will succeed. And it’s just tragic because what you really need in life, as you know as well as I do is the ability to take initiative, is the ability to come up with new ideas, is the ability to, I call it play, and this doctrinaire system just doesn’t allow for that, does it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s just so sad. And I hear you so deeply that it’s truly this mind boggling turning of the ship, turning of the Titanic and moving into territory where it’s not as measurable, and therefore it’s scary. And there’s also some reality check around children and their brilliance. Isn’t because of, I don’t know. I mean, I have no research for this. It’s not because of learning the three, reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s opening up the mind to allow for the access to that big magic, where all of it is out there for discovery and the more we’re free to make mistakes, the more we’re free to discover and create. And this is, to me, what gets me so excited, is to find the ones that are willing to risk.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. You have to be given permission. You have to know that it’s safe to fail.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yap.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Success has made a failure as you know and if you’re not failing, you’re not trying anything new.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Absolutely. Marshall used to say, “Until your children know that they can say no to you, then they can’t say yes.?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s so true, and mean it. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And mean it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. That there’s actually the fabric, the ecosystem that’s been created in the family system that allows for you to say no. And I even extend that a little bit further to the school systems where if you have that authoritarian model again, there’s only one thing that you get to say, and that is, “Sure, okay, I’ll do what you tell me to.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes sir. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And this, again, gets in the way of that beautiful autonomous aspect and nature to the human being even the young ones, where they have within themselves, some dignity.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I remember there was a kid that I got to work with for a while. And he was just always in trouble. And it was a very prestigious Hong Kong family going to the best school. And every day they would walk into the classroom and he was told, “Now, take off your backpack and hang it over here on the hook. And be sure to get that book out and put it on your table.” And he wouldn’t do any of it. And he was just so in reaction to all of this control, and he would just say to me, “If they’re going to treat me like a baby, I’m going to act like one.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He says to me, “As if I don’t know where to hang my bag.” And he says, “As if I don’t know to take the book out, I mean, seriously?” And I just thought, part of me was just like the dead poet’s society. I wanted him to stand on a chair and just go, “Yeah.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And the parents said to me, “What’s wrong with him” And I said, “There’s nothing wrong with him, but there’s something wrong with this school you have him in.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Because it’s the prestigious school and La, La, La and I was just like, “Make choices.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Do you want to a child who will be a person who can take initiative and use his imagination or do you want to have a robot?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, honestly, what’s going on in Hong Kong right now. I mean, really just the robot will be fine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Well, Katherine, you are wonderful. You really are. I can’t thank you enough for coming on. And-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
This has been so fun. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to say it again. Katherine Winter-Sellery, and her website is consciousparentingrevolution.com. You can get her free ebook there. Seven strategies to keep your relationship with your kids from hitting the boiling point. And I can tell you for sure, just talking to her in this interview, she’s spot on. She knows what she’s doing. She’s been trained by the best people and she’s been a serious student and she’s got decades of experience. And my gosh, it’s a deal to take her course. If you’re a parent and if you’re having some struggles as most parents do, there is a rational way out of it that’ll be good for both of you, not just your kids, but for you, because you don’t like struggling with your kids any more than your kids like it. And if you’re not careful, it takes on a life of its own.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And as Katherine says, it becomes part of your culture, part of your family culture. And you don’t want that. The good news is, you can change it. You have to be deliberate, but you can change it. And she will show you how, and I can tell just to, I’m looking at her picture now and hearing her, she’ll tell you how in a very warm and a helpful way, she’s not going to sit there and tell you what to do, but she’ll suggest what you might do. And there’s a big difference. There’s a big difference there. So, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, get the free ebook, sign up for the course with a 20% discount. And my gosh, that’s so modestly priced. I mean, if I were a parent, I’d take advantage of it right away. And the next course starts September 28th, you said?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, it does. Yeah. And it is, it’s priced for access. So that, I’m about the revolution. I’m about giving parents the skills that they need to change their family’s systems if they need to, if there’s resentment, clean it up, and to also be able to go back to that school and say, “I’m actually not okay with this approach. Would you be willing to hear me out?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not in an aggressive way, because that doesn’t get us anywhere, but in a really sort of open-hearted. “I’m in discovery. Would you go down the road with me?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Well, “Wouldn’t you like to learn something new?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. Just that Mr. Rogers neighborhood kind of thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It really is about supporting everybody in learning how to manage their emotions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It sure is.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And when kids are under threat and they can’t meet their needs and they’re falling apart, I call it drowning, and they don’t know how to drown politely just like the rest of us. So let’s not get so hung up on how people drown and let’s get really connected to what the needs are that they’re not able to meet underneath it. And if we start to meet the needs, all the behaviors that we didn’t like disappear anyways. So let’s start with the heart.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So they can swim.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Katherine Winter-Sellery, thank you for welcoming us to your neighborhood. It’s really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s so lovely. It’s just been really beautiful to be here with you. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much and, please again, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, sign up for a course, get her free ebook, and remember to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas. We thrive on them. We love them. We eat them up and we turn them into shows of their own. So write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the amazing talented Scott Persson. And our producer is the also amazingly talented Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode 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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An ADHD Diagnosis Really Is Good News

An ADHD Diagnosis Really Is Good News

Pediatric neurologist, Dr. Sarah Cheyette, is an expert at working with kids and young adults with ADHD. She believes that while the condition has its challenges, an ADHD diagnosis actually allows people to become much stronger versions of themselves. 

Check out Dr. Sarah Cheyette’s website at: SarahCheyette.com.

To purchase one of her books (which are available in audio versions read by Dr. Cheyette) go HERE.

In this episode you’ll also hear from Dr. Carol Locke, the founder and creator of OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Reach out to us! Share your thoughts and questions by sending an email or voice memo to [email protected].

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

This episode was originally released in April 2020.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is 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. 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.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That is exactly why I love treating ADHD, is because you can be so successful as a treatment provider because treatments work really well and you really hand people their lives. And it’s really nice. People think, “Oh, ADHD is fluffy. It’s not whatever,” but my goodness, I can make a huge difference in people’s lives from childhood to adult. And gosh, that’s a wonderful thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today we have a very special guest from the other side of the country, from California. A pediatric neurologist, a Princeton graduate, a UCLA Medical School graduate and a fan of and expert on ADHD. It’s not common to find a pediatric neurologist who specializes in this and not only specializes but has written a couple of books about it. ADHD & The Focused Mind and Winning with ADHD. This wonderful woman’s name is Dr. Sarah Cheyette. She is a brilliant woman and a wonderful woman to have on Distraction. Hello, Dr. Cheyette.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Thank you so much for that wonderful introduction Ned. And thanks for having me on the show. I’m delighted to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s terrific to have you. Just mentioned your website is sarahcheyette.com, S-A-R-A-H-C-H-E-Y-E-T-T-E.com. I have to prove to our listeners that I can actually read without reversing letters. So how did you get into this field, Dr. Cheyette?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That’s an interesting question, because as you said, there’s not that many pediatric neurologists who like to treat ADHD, but as I was taking histories on my patients with headaches, I would find that they might have the headaches because of difficulty concentrating or anxieties. I would find they would have anxiety because of difficulty concentrating. ADHD affects so many things that it’s not hard to find it when you’re dealing with neurology.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And did you learn about it during your fellowship? When did you learn about it?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Well, actually not much during my fellowship because as you know, with medical training, a lot of that is inpatient. So a lot of the outpatient stuff became something that I learned in private practice and also from mentors such as yourself and from books and from conferences and all the ways we learn things all our lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And do you have a personal interest? Do you have it yourself or any of your children have it?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
No. I don’t have any children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, although certainly many of their teachers might’ve had an argument with me here and there about that, for two of them. But I have four kids and I certainly know how a distracted child looks, but nobody has had a diagnosis of ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what would you like to tell our listeners about ADHD?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Well, I think the important thing about ADHD is that it’s not [inaudible 00:00:04:06]. It doesn’t always have to be a negative. It’s certainly a negative in some certain situations, but we all have our positives and negatives and ADHD is a wonderful thing at times but it can be difficult at times. That’s nothing that your listeners don’t already know but it certainly bears repeating.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. And what’s the upside of it?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
The upside of it. When you learn how to deal with ADHD and meet your challenges there, you can become much stronger there. If you learn how to deal with hard situations, you usually get very good at hard situations. When people come in and get a diagnosis of ADHD, sometimes it’s very liberating for them because they say, That explains a lot,” and it’s not me being bad or my child being bad but they are sometimes surprised to hear about all the things that they can do. One of my pet peeves is when I hear them say, I can’t do X, Y, and Z because of my ADHD. And you know, that’s not a kind of mindset that I like to hear.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What do you think is the biggest undiagnosed group who have ADHD? I’ll tell you what I think it is. It’s adult women. Then you specialize in that, right?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Oh, I definitely deal with a lot of adult women. And some of these are the parents of patients. Their kids had come in to see me and then they decided that they need to come in and see me too. When you have ADHD as a mom, it takes an already very distracting situation and it magnifies that. When you have kids getting up and going to the bathroom for two minutes by yourself without getting interrupted, it’s a notable event. I’m worried, the more that people get interrupted, the more their ADHD gets exacerbated. But especially with women, women feel like they have to do everything for all people all the time. That’s obviously a broad generalization but true of a lot of moms that I know. And so they have a hard time prioritizing one thing over the other. Mom is getting constantly pulled in different directions because it’s harder for her to say, “Nope, I’ll be with you in a minute.”

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
So practicing those words are often pretty helpful. The value of completing something before you move on is absolutely something that needs to be rehearsed with a lot of people. Plus the anxiety piece, I think, is quieter in moms. The wind up, usually by the time their moms, if they have ADHD, then they feel behind a lot. And even if they don’t have kids, even with their jobs and mates and so on, pulling them in different directions, they can develop a lot of anxiety. And the anxiety is this quiet piece of it that is kind of co-morbid with the ADHD. Sometimes the anxiety piece gets recognized but the ADHD piece doesn’t get recognized. And so like the canary in the coal mine, whenever I talk and the woman feels anxious, we do talk about whether there could be a history of ADHD because that really can contribute to anxiety.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Really cause the anxiety.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. And then when you have anxious thinking, it’s harder to focus and then the outcome is worse and then it makes you more anxious.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then it makes you depressed because you’re not doing as well as you should.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What happens most of the time is the unknowing doctor diagnosis anxiety and depression and puts them on an SSRI, which is not at all what they need.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That’s exactly right. And it can take a long time to figure that out. Weeks, months, or years. And what these women need is to control the ADHD first. And then the anxiety gets better. But one problem that some, I think primary care doctors have and also some patients after they read the side effects, they come back and they say, “Hey doc, don’t you know that this medicine can cause anxiety.” And we talk about the fact that yes, it can make some people anxious but the idea would be to try it, see if it makes you less anxious and then hope it does,.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. No, exactly. And it’s in and out of your system in a matter of hours. So if it should happen to make more anxious, you only have to put up with it for a matter of hours. In my experience, it’s at least nine out of 10 people feel better with it. Not more anxious.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I agree. That’s my experience too. And you know, if you read the side effects to coffee, it will also say it can cause anxiety but people leap ahead for that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Sure. I mean, the whole world is caffeinated. Coffee is my medication because the prescription stimulants don’t work for me. I have ADHD as well as dyslexia.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
There you go. And sometimes there’s comorbid sleep apnea where the coffee helps with that. Or as you know, the ADHD medications are also used to manage the side effects, the problems with feeling sleepy during the day if you have sleep apnea.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, we’re going to pause right here for just a moment. Joining me now is Dr. Carol Luck, the creator and founder of OmegaBrite Wellness. She’s extremely fussy about purity and pharmaceutical grade and all the kinds of things you want someone to be fussy about. She’s here today for a follow-up conversation about the health benefits of CBD and omega-3. As you know, Carol joined me a few weeks ago in the episode we released called Tools to Help You Stay Calm. Carol, it’s great to have you back.

Dr. Carol Luck:
It’s great to be here, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So let’s just get right to it. Why is taking omega-3 supplements good for us?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Omega-3s are vital for our bodies. They’re vital for our brain, for our eye as well as for our cardiac health.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And in these days of the pandemic and COVID-19 do omega-3s take on added value and importance?

Dr. Carol Luck:
They do, Ned. During this time as people are stressed every day, both from the COVID pandemic as well as from being hunkered down, that level of stress becomes chronic. And that creates inflammation in the body. Omega-3s can help lower and create a positive inflammatory balance in the body. So they are very important from that point of view as well as for cardiac protection and in protecting our mood during this time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So they’re even good for mood?

Dr. Carol Luck:
They’re very good for mood and the research over the years has proven out that omega-3s do promote positive mood. They help prevent and treat depression and reduce anxiety.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, how can the average intelligence skeptic, like many of our listeners, be sure that it’s worth the money to get a more expensive brand like OmegaBrite versus the least expensive brand out there?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Good question. You want, when you buy a supplement, to have it be proven in science and proven in science in human beings. And so OmegaBrite has been proven in clinical studies at major academic centers.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what dose and what ratios matter here?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Well, the ratio that OmegaBrite… that we developed was a high EPA ratio. The dose in this study that has been shown to be effective is three capsules of OmegaBrite a day, up to six capsules a day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now EPA doesn’t mean environmental protection agency. What does EPA mean?

Dr. Carol Luck:
EPA is eicosapentaenoic acid.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Switching gears slightly. What are CBDs?

Dr. Carol Luck:
Well, CBD is a cannabinoid. So CBD is the best known one and the best studied.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And who should take them and why?

Dr. Carol Luck:
We all have an endocannabinoid system in our body, which is a cell signaling system that helps maintain our mood, helps maintain homeostasis, it’s involved in learning and in memory and in inflammation as well as many other areas. And so many people benefit, Ned, from taking them for pain. Sleep is another big one. People are having a really good benefit, reducing anxiety, which right now is particularly important during this time of stress, as well as positive mood and people are using them as well for depression.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I can tell you personally, and I’m saying this, not just because you sponsor our podcast, but because it’s the truth, I love your CBD product. I’ve been taking it for about six weeks now. I’m just less reactive, less impatient, less apt to spout off. And it’s noticeable. It really is. And I love it. I don’t like it. If I forget to take it, it doesn’t tranquilize me at all. So it doesn’t take anything away in terms of energy or alertness. It just takes the edge off my impatience and reactive ADD nature.

Dr. Carol Luck:
That’s fantastic. I think that is a benefit. I think that people report feeling more themselves and less pressure. Your description is really apt. Ned, did you feel it happen right away? How long did it take for that?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It happened right away.

Dr. Carol Luck:
How do you feel as far as on your ability to focus on tasks or accomplish what you want?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, I’ve mastered that one. My medication is caffeine. So caffeine is my focus drug and now CBD and OmegaBrite fatty acids, omega-3s are my mood medication. One more product that I want to ask you about that you also make, you have a vitamin D supplement that you produce, why should we all take that?

Dr. Carol Luck:
We have discovered and research shows that it’s important for fighting respiratory infections. So it’s recommended right now to help people ward off any respiratory infections and hopefully that would include any viruses. And it’s also helpful for your immune health overall, as well as your bone health.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much. We have omega-3 supplements from an OmegaBrite. We have CBD and we have vitamin D. And if you want to get more or learn more, go to omegabritewellness.com and that’s intentionally misspelled O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E. wellness.com. Thank you so much for joining us, Carol. And thank you for sponsoring distraction.

Dr. Carol Luck:
Thanks so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right Dr. Sarah, Cheyette, tell our listeners how a successful diagnosis and treatment can change, let’s say, an adult woman’s life for the better?

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I love it when people get treated and the treatment works because they feel like they have a new lease on life. They’ll go back and say, “Oh, if I only had this during high school or college or whatever,” but it’s not very fruitful to go do that. And you can point out that you are who you are today because of all your experiences. When it works, it takes somebody who feels terrible about themselves, a lot of times, to making them feel good and normal and like they are respectable. And I just love that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, that’s why I love my job too, where people don’t realize what a good news diagnosis this is. Once you get the diagnosis, things are only going to improve.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Exactly because you can treat the right problems and address the right things. And that is exactly why I love treating ADHD, it’s because you can be so successful as a treatment provider because treatments work really well and you really hand people their lives. And it’s really nice. People think, Oh, ADHD is fluffy. It’s not whatever, but my goodness, I can make a huge difference in people’s lives from childhood to adult. And gosh, that’s a wonderful thing. I was really, really surprised how few medical doctors were there at the last ADHD convention in Philadelphia. I mean, I love that there were coaches and psychologists and so on but this is something that people also go to their medical doctors for all the time. And I don’t know if it’s because in recent years we’ve had an array of new medications, although they’re not that new and they mainly have different names and slightly different releases, but I don’t know if people are feeling un-confident about prescribing.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Also, as you mentioned or as we talked about earlier, it’s not something people learn about in their training very much. It’s something that is an outpatient thing that they may or may not feel comfortable learning on their own.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. No, exactly. But meanwhile, there are doctors like you out there and it’s too bad someone has to sort of luck in to seeing you because as we’ve said, an awful lot of doctors would diagnose depression and anxiety in this hypothetical female patient instead of the underlying ADHD. And then she would never get the treatment that could really change her life.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
That’s absolutely true.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. We’ll get right back to the conversation in just a moment on the phone with me now is Denise Jaffe, the director of online learning that Landmark College, our wonderful sponsor and the college of choice for students who learn differently. Denise is here to tell us about Landmark College’s Dual Enrollment Program which offers college level courses to rising high school juniors, seniors, and gap year students who struggle with learning primarily due to a learning disability, such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and executive function challenges. Thank you so much for joining me, Denise.

Denise Jeffe:
Hello, Dr. Hallowell. Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to talk about our Dual Enrollment Program. We offer a 100% online program for rising high school juniors and seniors. And what I mean by rising is that they are college bound and interested in taking a college course to see if college is the goal that they want to have. Our courses run everything from introduction to business and communications, computer applications, psychology, sociology, creative writing, personal finance and math. And we focus on college preparedness and transitions. For example, we want to ensure that they have the academic skills and the executive function skills to go to college. So our courses are set up to provide students who learn differently with more guidance, more hand rails in order for them to feel and be successful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful. So you give them the support they need and you teach them the skills they need?

Denise Jeffe:
We do. Our courses are highly personalized and supportive, enabling our students to develop and hone those critical academic skills while they’re exploring their interests and earning college credit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well. So they get college credit and they’re getting skills that they’ll need when they get to college regardless of the subject they’re taking?

Denise Jeffe:
Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a terrific service. If they want to learn more, where should they go?

Denise Jeffe:
They should go to the Landmark website at landmark.edu/duel. We’ll take them directly to the Dual Enrollment Program with more information and our applications.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful. And what’s the fee for the program?

Denise Jeffe:
The fee is $1,000. It’s a 14 week, semester. Three college credits. There’s a second hand rail support called the course advisor that is specifically for executive function support and then our department, because all three, in addition to the family or the school that they’re coming from, support that student towards success.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Boy, it’s a bargain. That’s a great thing. What a terrific, terrific program. Thank you so much. If you’d like to learn more about online learning at Landmark College, go to lcdistraction.org, elsiedistraction.org or the website that Denise already gave you. Denise Jaffe. Thank you so much for giving us this really valuable information. And again, congratulations for the wonderful work you all do at Landmark College.

Denise Jeffe:
Thank you so much.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I have a hope that in time, it will catch up to ADHD treatment. You may be able to speak to this but you know, maybe… Well it’s only recently, we’ve really been talking a lot about ADHD, [crosstalk 00:22:05] adult diagnosis. And probably there was a time when primary care doctors did not treat women very much or men for anxiety or depression. Maybe they referred them onwards and maybe the ADHD diagnosis just has to catch up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, well, let’s hope it catches up fast. I’m doing my best and you’re doing your best. Doctor Sarah Cheyette, her books, ADHD & The Focused Mind that she wrote with her husband, Ben and Winning with ADHD that she wrote with a younger colleague by the name of Grace Friedman. Wonderful resource. And then Mommy, My Head Hurts: A Doctor’s Guide to Your Child’s Headache. So she doesn’t just do ADHD. She does a full service neurology. Doing a great service to the Bay area and her four children and her many patients. It’s a real pleasure to meet you. And I feel like we’re fellow travelers in a wonderful crusade to bring this good news to as many people as we can.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
I feel the same way. Absolutely. I should mention also my ADHD & the Focused Mind had one other co-author, Peter Johnson. And do you know who he was, Ned?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
He is my kid’s karate teacher.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, great. Wonderful.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
So it’s really the only book in the entire world that’s written by a pediatric neurologist, a psychiatrist and a karate master.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s just terrific. That is really terrific.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
Where that came from is that I was watching Pete teach kids, teach inattentive kids and teach kids with ADHD. And he was so good at coaching them. Every time a kid got their black belt or Brown belt, he would have them write an essay and they all wrote almost all to a person wrote, what I learned in the dojo helped me in the rest of my life. So it got me thinking about how the lessons of the athletic mindset and what Pete was trying to teach them in karate applied to help them be more focused in their regular life. And so that’s what that book was about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful. Well, thank you again.

Dr. Sarah Cheyette:
All right. Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s our show for today. If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Cheyette or purchase one of her books, which I urge you to do, go to sarahcheyette.com. That’s Sarah, S-A-R-A-H. Cheyette, C-H-E-Y-E-T-T-E.com. You can find it all there. Of course, Amazon would have her books as well. Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and show ideas. We thrive on your participation. We are a community. We are a connected group. Remember the best antidote to distraction is connection. We will be releasing another listener question and answer episode soon. So please write to us now and get your question on that show, email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected] that’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Again, our tremendous thanks to pediatric neurologist, Dr. Sara Cheyette. And I will close by telling you that Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the estimable and imaginative Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the delightful and clever Patrick 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 at omegabritewellness.com. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E wellness.com.

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Dr. H Answers Your ADHD Questions

Dr. H Answers Your ADHD Questions

Our host responds to listener emails this week about ADHD and…  medication and addiction, anxiety issues, sensory processing disorder symptoms, OCD and the pandemic, and more.

Thank you to all of our listeners who sent in an email! A special shout out goes to awesome Distraction listener, Gray, who shared his thoughts with us in a voice memo!

If you have a question, comment or show idea we want to hear from you! Write an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Dr. Hallowell’s books mentioned in this episode:

Delivered from Distraction

Driven to Distraction

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.

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

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 and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so very much for joining me. We have a growing audience and we hope it continues to grow. Please tell your friends about us, assuming you like what we’re doing. Today’s show we’ll be doing one of my favorite episodes, responding to your emails and questions. If you listen to these questions and enjoy them, please send us your questions. As we normally do in these episodes, my producer, the inestimably wonderful, Sarah Guertin will read to me your emails so I can respond. Without further ado, let me invite Sarah to read me the first email.

Sarah Guertin:

Hey. Happy to be here. All right. This first email says, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. My son was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD in September. He also has sensory processing disorder, but now I’m wondering what he truly has since his symptoms are very similar between SPD and ADHD. Since learning this, I’ve read eight books and changed his school. While he is better, I want to be sure to give him all the support and resources for him to navigate well through life’s journey. I struggled to know how to best help him in what he really needs. He has had three years of occupational therapy, but we’ve hit a wall. What is the best way to get them on a path of treatment that is right for him? He is attending a school for kids with learning differences though I’m not sure I can afford to keep him there as I’m a single self-employed mom. He’s a happy, amazing kid aside from the struggles he faces with the differences, but I don’t want to make things worse. I love your podcast. It has helped me understand and sometimes given me ideas. Any advice for the bumbling parent? LB.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, LB, first of all, you’re anything but bumbling. Any parent who reads eight books and changes the school and paying a tuition she can barely afford, I’d say is anything but bumbling. I would say you’re a candidate for mother of the year. As for your son’s problem, you didn’t mention medication. You said he’s had occupational therapy for the sensory processing disorder, I assume, but I didn’t see any mention of medication. Sensory processing disorder by the way is not the one I would put at the top of the list in terms of ease of helping to improve. You want to make sure you really go after the ADHD. Often the SPD, the sensory processing disorder, will follow. You’ve been doing the OT, the occupational therapy. You’ve kind of nailed that one. You said, “We’ve hit a wall.” I’m not sure what you meant by that.

I can guess he’s stalling out. He’s not doing well. The three hallmarks of the treatment of ADHD are number one, education. You want to know what it is and what it isn’t. I’d recommend my book Delivered from Distraction, which came out in 2005, but the information in it is still current. I’ll have a new book for you in 2021, but as of now Delivered from Distraction. Read that so you really understand what ADHD is and what it isn’t. For example, it is not a deficit of attention. It’s an abundance of attention. Simply need to control it. I don’t see it as a disorder. I see it as a trait. It can become a disorder or it can become a superpower depending upon how you manage it. You begin with education and letting your son know that he’s got a race car for a brain, a Ferrari for a brain, but the problem is he has bicycle brakes. We need to somehow strengthen the brakes.

You want to get him in a good frame of mind so he doesn’t feel like he’s being fixed. So he doesn’t feel like he’s being remediated. So he doesn’t feel like he’s fundamentally defective, which is what the term ADHD implies. Instead, tell him he’s got a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes. There are many ways of strengthening those brakes. As I say, you start with education. Then a trial of medication makes a lot of sense, unless it goes against your brain for some reason. Most parents say, I don’t want to use medication, but they don’t really know why they don’t want to use medication. Their reasons are rooted in wrong information or lack of information or both. Talk with your doctor. I would recommend a trial of medication. Remember, a trial of medication is just that. It’s a trial.

If it does anything you don’t like… If he turns purple, you just stopped the meds. He’ll go back to his original color. You don’t want to proceed as if it were a permanent intervention. If it works and by work I mean he gets improved focus, improved control over his engine with no side effects, other than appetite suppression, without unwanted weight loss. If you get that result, which you can achieve 80% of the time, then it makes everything else so much more easy to do. People often say to me, why don’t we do a year or two of non-medication treatment before starting medication? I say fine. I’m happy to do that with you. I’ve written books about that, but it’s sort of like saying, why don’t we do a year or two of squinting before we try eyeglasses?

Why not go to the proven intervention that is safe and effective? Why wait because it makes everything else you do more effective. Then the third element… We have education. We have trial of medication, 80% of the time it will help. The third element is coaching, which includes everything from how to get up in the morning and get dressed, to how to make your bed, to how to plan your homework, to how to listen in class, to how to take notes if you’re old enough to do that, to how to hand in papers on time, to how to stop procrastinating. All that comes under the heading of coaching. That can be done by an ADHD coach. The de facto coach is you, the parent, usually the mother. The problem with that is as the child gets older the coaching comes to feel like nagging.

What a hired coach does or a hired tutor does is what a mom would do minus the nag factor. Those would be my recommendations, but start with the recommendation of getting rid of yourself designation as a bumbling parent. You’re anything but. Educate as to what ADHD is. I recommend my book Delivered from Distraction. Consider your pediatrician for a trial of stimulant medication. Then bring in the coaching, addressing whatever the target areas of need are. Hope that makes sense, LB. Please give us follow up. Love to hear how he’s doing as time marches on.

Sarah Guertin:

This email is from Diana. She wrote in part, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell. First, let me say how much your work has personally and professionally impacted my life. Back in 2015 when I first started learning about how my daughter might have ADHD and that I myself might also have ADHD, it was your book Driven to Distraction that launched and guided me through this world of self discovery. Your book also enabled me to effectively advocate for the accommodations my own children need at home and in school, as well as giving those same tools to the students in my classroom, as a science teacher. In the more recent past and present, however, it has been your Distraction podcast that has opened up the flood gates to the multitude of other resources, which have skyrocketed my growth about ADHD since my diagnosis, and now too the diagnosis of my daughter, testing of my son for ADHD and navigating the most effective treatments for us all.

The reason for this email though, is not entirely to share my appreciation for you, but to ask for advice about, and possibly connections for writing my own book about my experiences with ADHD. Thus far, I have nearly an hour’s worth of voice memos with full pages of the book laid out along with ideas for more content and a broad framework for scope and scale of the book. Unfortunately, this is where I begin to flounder. Since I have no clue how to make connections in the publishing realm, do you happen to have any advice for this or contacts I could pursue in this endeavor to write my book? Your help and advice would be most greatly appreciated and valued. All my best, Diana.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, Diana, what a wonderful email. What a wonderful goal you’ve set for yourself of writing a book. That’s fantastic. One of the best ways to treat ADD is to develop a creative outlet. The reason I write so many books is if I don’t have a book going, I get depressed. I’ve found in working with people with ADD over the years, the ones who do best always have some kind of creative outlet, whether it’s writing or gardening or cooking or investing in the stock market. There’s some kind of creative outlet, an outlet that allows you to be spontaneous and access your unconscious and create. It is something that our brains really need to do. If we don’t do it… It’s like a cow that doesn’t get milked. We just get all stuck up, plugged up. Good for you. Wonderful goal.

Now what you’re going to need is structure. You can do that by hiring a coach. You’re also going to need an agent. It’s very hard to sell a book as an unpublished author if you don’t have an agent. It’s possible, but it’s extremely difficult. You can go online and Google agents and literary agents. The best ones or in New York or Boston, although there were agents all over the place. If you find an agent, you see, they’ll take on the task of helping you get the book written. Then selling it. What you can do once you have an agent is write, what’s called a proposal. The agent can sell the book based on the proposal. It has to be a fairly detailed, for someone who hasn’t been published, a fairly detailed summary of what the book will include.

Once your agent sells that proposal, then you get an advance. That’s a sum of money that you get to support you while you write the book. Now, if the book doesn’t earn back the full amount of the advance, you don’t have to pay it back. It’s called an advance on royalties, but it’s really a gift. You don’t get royalties until the book earns out as it’s called, until it earns back the amount of money of the advance. In the unfortunate case, it doesn’t earn that much money, you’re not on the hook. The publisher takes the risk, which is really quite wonderful. The agent usually takes 15% of the advance, but you don’t have to pay the agent anything if he or she does not sell the proposal. That’s in a nutshell the best way to get published.

You’ve done the hard part, which is gathered up your experience. Now you’ll have to sort through your voice memos and develop an outline, and a table of contents. That’s what usually goes into a proposal. Good for you for doing it. It’s a wonderful thing to do. You’ll feel very gratified and you will help an awful lot of people if the book manages to get published or you could self-publish. Now you can do eBooks on Amazon. There’s a whole way of doing that as well. You don’t have to rely on a New York publisher picking up your book. I hope that answers your question and good luck. You have to be crazy to write a book. It’s no way to make a living. It’s a good way to torture yourself. I’ve been writing them for many years now. I just finished my 21st book. I guess it’s a fine madness, if you will. It’s not a way to feel good, but it is a way to feel very fulfilled and satisfied.

Sarah Guertin:

“Hi, there. I listen to your podcast on Spotify to help with my ADHD, OCD, and insomnia, which is an ongoing issue. I think I have other underlying problems, but that’s another story. I’m constantly learning about it. I’m doing online courses to understand my brain and others and how it all works, but I’m stuck. As a result of COVID became isolated with all my usual helpers and I’m scared. I’m 24, female in Melbourne, Australia. I live out of home at the moment in a share house on a noisy street and can’t concentrate. I’ve decided to move back home because it seems to be my only option for a healthy and financially stable lifestyle. I am currently having a meltdown. My parents both obviously have undiagnosed ADHD along with my younger sister, but she has been diagnosed. The house is full of clutter. I’m slowly trying to organize my old room, which is full of the classic hoarding of old clothes from all people from my family.” She has another sister, too.

“I suffer from OCD and like things to always have a place. I love self-learning and love how my brain works most of the time. I think I’m a genius to be honest. I just cannot seem to understand what is a good decision. Do I move home where the clutter is never ending and don’t think it will ever be perfect? Will I be overwhelmed with a house full of ADHD? I can’t think. I’m trying to be positive. I help people often. I’m kind and actually enjoy organizing, but this is so much that I’m currently living out of my car because I’m stuck in between the two houses. I’m stuck. I’m anxious. I need help. What actions do I take? What advice do I listen to? Where do I look for help? Thank you for your help so far. Your podcasts make me feel safe wherever I’m sleeping at night.” She put in parentheses a different bed every night. “I hope you are well. I appreciate the work you do. Hailey.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, Hailey, what a wonderful email. What an amazing young woman you are. Gosh. I can’t remember the last email where someone said, “I actually think I’m a genius.” I love that you think you’re a genius because you are. Genius just means extraordinarily talented in some domain or another. I can tell just by reading your email, you are. What you need is what most of us with ADHD need, namely, some structure. You need to take all these wonderful ideas and images and thoughts and feelings that are ping-ponging around in your brain all day and most of the night and shape them, direct them, organize them. Like I say, ADD, you’ve got a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. Your Ferrari is zinging all over the place. You can’t decide on where to land. I think you need somebody to work with you, whether that could be a friend, if you can’t afford a professional help or a coach, probably it cost something, or an actual medical professional to take you on and help you construct a game plan so to speak.

It’s very hard to do it on your own. I would not. As for moving home, I assume the price is good. That’s an advantage. If you could create a space of the house that’s yours and if you could have it neat and tidy, then the chaos going on around you wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. If you all love each other, even if you’re a little chaotic, that’s fine. We can deal with chaos as long as there’s good feeling. You want to have good feeling. That force of connection is very formative as long as it’s positive connection. You say you suffer from OCD. It sounds like that can help you actually if you use that to get organized and have things in place. I think you really do need someone to sound off your ideas with and make some plans and set some goals. We really do well when we have goals.

Then someone to hold you accountable. That also helps if you could be held accountable. You have enormous potential, believe me for a 24 year old woman. I can just tell from your email, how much you’ve got going on inside that really zinging and zagging and zigging and zagging mind of yours. If you got some help and then I would certainly consider a trial of medication. You didn’t mention that in there, but you’ll need an MD to help you with that. When the meds work, they’re amazing. They really work wonders. If they don’t work, you just don’t take them.

The stimulant meds are in and out of your system very quickly. You can find out pretty fast if the meds will be helpful to you. If they are helpful to you and they help about 80% of people, then it makes all the rest of the interventions that you need so much easier. When you can focus, it’s like when you have eyeglasses. You can learn and do everything more felicitously. How’s that for a word, felicitously. Thank you so much for writing to us, Hailey. Please keep us posted on your progress. Let us know if we can help you in any other way. You are a genius. Don’t forget that.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Before we get to the next question, I’d like to take a moment and talk with you about our wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. As many of you listeners know I’ve been taking OmegaBrite CBD supplement for the past few months. It’s the newest supplement from OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one, Omega 3 supplements for the past 20 years, which my wife and I have taken for quite some time now. We really swear by them. OmegaBrite’s founder, Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School, and her team set the standards for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of Omega 3s and have now brought that same commitment to excellence with their CBD supplement. I love the CBD because in my own case, it’s helped me with my reactivity, my natural impatience. I can be very impatient, reactive, peremptory. Since I’ve started the CBD, that’s sort of been blunted. I’m not like that. It hasn’t taken away any of my mental fastball at all. I encourage you to give it a try. You can find OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com.

As a special for Distraction listeners, the OmegaBrite folks have given you a 20% discount off your first order, but you have to use the promo code, podcast 2020. That’s pretty simple. Podcast 2020. Go to omegabritewellness.com. Order up some OmegaBrite CBD and some fish oil. While you’re there, you can also pick up some vitamin D. They also make that. Put in podcast 2020 and you’ll get 20% off.

[SPONSOR BREAK END]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

All right. Sarah, what does the next email have to offer us?

Sarah Guertin:

“Hey, Dr. Ned. I don’t have a question. I just wanted to give my thanks to you. I’m a 28 year old from Australia who is only just diagnosed with ADHD late last year. I failed out of university when I was 21 and went through a lot of self hatred and depression, not understanding why I couldn’t cope. I decided to come back to university and subsequently found out about the ADHD and my whole life suddenly made sense. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I spent some time feeling really down about it. Earlier this year, I discovered both you and Peter Shankman. Both of your perspectives on ADHD have completely changed my mindset and life. It’s allowed me to really appreciate my strengths. I’m now managing my weaknesses properly. I wouldn’t give my ADHD away if I could. I’m also getting nearly exclusively A’s on all my assignments as well and have regained a fire in my belly that had all but died out.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. I was writing to you just to tell you that when I’m having a bad day or I’m feeling lost, I often go to your podcast and listen to an episode. I really like your short episodes where you give your thoughts on a topic. There’s something about the way you talk about your experiences that calms me down and makes me feel like everything is and will be okay. Thank you for doing what you do. I really appreciate it. Regards, TCM.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh my goodness. What a wonderful email. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m really glad that I’m able to help you calm down and think that everything will be okay. I think what you’re finding is the truth of my little aphorism, never worry alone. I was taught that by my teacher way back when I was a resident. Dr. Thomas Gutheil. He used to say to us, it’s okay to worry. In fact, it’s a good thing to worry. Just don’t worry alone. I think you must find in listening to the podcasts, a companionship, an affiliation that always makes us feel better. When we’re alone, we globalize. We catastrophize. We lose hope. When we’re in connection, it doesn’t have to be in person like the podcast isn’t in person, we feel the energy. We feel the whatever it is that has not yet been discovered, that happens when a person connects, even just by listening because you’re inputting even though you’re listening. You’re also adding to my words with images, associations, thoughts, feelings.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

If I started to describe the lake where my kids and I used to go growing up, you’ll think of a lake that you go to. That in and of itself will be calming and pleasant for you. You’re clearly on your way to doing wonderful things. I’m so glad you discovered Peter Shankman. I’m so glad you discovered me. Both Peter and I think of ADHD as something that if you manage properly can really enhance your life in a unique and wonderful way. I’m glad you’re discovering that. I’m glad you’re discovering the pot of gold at the end of this particular rainbow because it’ll be with you for the rest of your life. Thank you for writing in. I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement of me, which I need just like anybody else. Thank you again, TCM, from all the way from Australia where so many wonderful people live. Sarah, we have another one?

Sarah Guertin:

This next email is from Steven. He wrote in part “Dr. Hallowell, I’m 42 years old and was diagnosed with ADD at 39 by both a neurologist and psychologist. Before the diagnosis. I did well in college, earning three degrees, including a doctorate. I’ve been successful enough in the work world. Though, in retrospect, I see how strengths associated with ADD helps me and hindered me through the formal education process and how an earlier diagnosis would have been helpful. As I age my increasing difficulties with ADD correlate 100% with attempts to balance parenthood, my wife and I have three young children, career and related responsibilities. I’m convinced that I successfully self-medicated prior to marriage and children with long hikes distance running, long bike rides and time outdoors. That’s a bit harder to come by now. I need additional help. I’ve been taking generic Adderall for just over two years, either 10 milligrams XR, or single, or double dose of five milligram tabs as needed.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the medications impact. I tried generic Ritalin prior with a slightly lesser result. I find that when I skip a day of medication, I’m 100% okay, especially, if I’m not at my desk job. Self-medicating with exercise works better anyway, sometimes, but on the second day of not medicating, I become noticeably irritable, starting in the morning, far sadder than circumstances warrant and I’m generally a less agreeable husband and father.

One solution is to medicate daily, without exception.” Then he put this in bold. “But I’m hoping that my experience isn’t a sign of addiction. If it is what actions should I take? Finally, I’m otherwise healthy and fit. I rarely drink alcohol. I use no other drugs, recreational or prescription. I’m not prone to addictive behaviors. I take Omega 3 supplements per your suggestion. I do find that if I take an XR pill in the morning, I feel a drop-off late afternoon. I usually work through such or take a five milligram tab at onset of drop-off, especially if I plan to work or have meetings that evening, but taking medications too late in the day does affect my sleep.” It kind of goes on from there, but that’s the general question that he’s asking.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Steven, you’re obviously an incredibly talented person as so many people with ADD are. I’m really glad you got diagnosed and you got on medication. The fact that you feel funny after two days does not mean you’re addicted at all. It just means you’re suffering from some residual side effects, but you’re not addicted. If you were addicted, you would go into withdrawal. You’d have cravings. You’d become irritable. I do think it means you need to tweak the medications. What I would suggest is switching from Adderall XR to Vyvanse. Amphetamine is the active ingredient in both, but with Vyvanse the drop-off is smoother. I’ve found with most of my patients when they switch from Adderall XR to Vyvanse, they don’t have that crashing, as it’s called, period when the medication is wearing off. You’re managing it properly, by the way, to use the five milligram immediate release Adderall to temper that. I’m glad that’s working well for you.

Of course, exercise is the best of all in terms of self-medicating. Continue with the exercise. You might add in some meditation, which you can do five or 10 minutes once or twice a day. Don’t forget the vitamin C, vitamin connect. Stay connected with the people you care about. That all will help with these raggedy feelings that you can get. Push exercise. Push meditation. Push human connection. I would tweak the medication in the way I just suggested to switch from the Adderall XR to Vyvanse. Keep the immediate release Adderall toward the end of the day, but don’t take it too late or you will get insomnia as you’ve experienced. Thank you, Steven. Please stay in touch with us. Let us know what progress you make. Sarah, do we have any more?

Sarah Guertin:

This last one is a voice memo that we received from a listener named Grey. Grey reached out to us several months ago, Ned, when you did your meatloaf episode. He wrote to us and told us that he is a fan of meatloaf as well. Here’s what he recorded.

Grey:

“Hello, Dr. Hallowell. Greetings to you again. This is Grey, your meatloaf pal. I have a four year old daughter. We are working our way through classic kid appropriate music. We’ve been listening to The Sound of Music recently. After listening to Maria and I Have Confidence a few times, it dawned on me. Have you ever heard a better or more musical description of ADHD? Someone who has trouble following rules, but is a joyously good person and is determined to succeed despite repeated negative feedback. Perhaps you can name a future book, chapter, holding a moonbeam. I would love to hear your comments. Thanks.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, thank you, Grey. Thank you for continuing our meatloaf association. I hope you are experimenting. There are as many recipes for meatloaf as there are cures for hiccups. Sometimes meatloaf will give you the hiccups. One of my favorite meals. I love to pair meatloaf with a baked potato. I don’t know about you. Then a nice salad or peas, but I don’t often get to have the peas because no one in my family likes them. I love them. I don’t know how you feel about peas. They go well with meatloaf and a baked potato. Anyway. Yes. Holding a moonbeam. Yes. That’s wonderful. I’m so glad you’re introducing your daughter to the world of ADD in such a positive way, which is indeed how it is. I think that’s terrific.

I love the image. Wanting to do well and do right, but not really inclined to be a conformist and paint within the lines. She’ll be carving out her own painting as the years go by. With a wonderful father like you and I’m sure a mother as well, it will all be coming up roses and moonbeams for you all. Thank you. Thank you so much, Grey. Please keep me posted both about your daughter and about your experiences in the world of meatloaf.

All right. If you have a question you’d like me to address in a future episode and it can be about anything including meatloaf or moonbeams or kangaroos in Australia, write an email or record a voice memo on your phone just as Gray did. Send it to us at [email protected].

If you’re on Facebook, be sure to like the Distraction podcast page. We post links to episodes, relevant articles and the occasional cute dog video, which I’ve got to make another one of those soon. It’s a good way to stay connected with the show and other Distraction listeners. We’re on Instagram and Twitter. Please give us a like and a follow on there as well. Now, if I knew how to do any of those things, I’d do it myself, but someone else does it for me. I’m too old this dog to learn those new tricks, but you are young and Instagram and Twitter savvy. Please do that. Like, follow, embroider and add to. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our wonderful recording engineer and editor is Scott Persson. Our producer is the estimable, irreplaceable and always effervescent, Sarah Guertin. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

The episode you’ve 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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