Helping Athletic Coaches Understand ADHD Kids

Helping Athletic Coaches Understand ADHD Kids

Own Beat Athlete is an organization that aims to help soccer, baseball, football and other coaches better understand neurodivergent kids, like those with ADHD. As a former coach and mother to a son with ADHD and dyslexia, Susan Stout saw that many coaches of young athletes didn’t understand ADHD, resulting in seasons filled with frustration and anxiety for both the coaches and the young athletes. Susan decided to create Own Beat Athlete to reduce the struggle between coaches and players, as she tells Ned in this episode. 

Own Beat Athlete

Please reach out to use with your comments, questions and show ideas. Email [email protected]

This episode was originally released in April 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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Creative Solutions to Common Problems

Creative Solutions to Common Problems

ADHD coach Jeff Copper spends a lot of his time coming up with unique ways to help his clients. In this conversation with Ned he shares some of the interesting ways he’s helped people get things done and manage their time better. As you’ll hear, Jeff believes it’s all about using what works for you, even if it’s unusual!

Jeff’s coaching website: DIG Coaching Practice

Jeff’s podcast: Attention Talk Radio

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!

Reach out to us with your comments, questions and show ideas! Send us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! 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 is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, Omega Brite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years and so as 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:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. I have a wonderful guest today, a true a veteran and hero in the world of ADHD by the name of Jeff Copper. He is the founder of DIG Coaching. He’s a coach for excellence and the host of Attention Talk Radio, which performs a tremendous service to the ADHD community. The podcast is designed to help adults and children with ADHD in life or business who are stuck, overwhelmed or frustrated. And that includes most of the people in the world who have this fascinating condition. So, welcome to the podcast Jeff.

Jeff Copper:
Thank you so much for having me on and thank you so much for the work that you do for the ADHD community.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You asked me what I’d like to talk about and I said whatever you want, but I think most people are always, always intrigued to hear a personal story. So how did you get into this world of ADHD and the Attention Talk Radio and the coaching business that you have? Can you tell us about that?

Jeff Copper:
Sure. It’s actually a really, really long story with a lot of steps, but in a nutshell, I was a athlete that struggled as a kid with dyslexia and ADD. I didn’t know about ADD at the time and I struggled in school, but what got me through is I was a competitive swimmer. I swam internationally for a period of time, was able to get to college on a scholarship. And when I got there, I had to figure everything out on my own. And I did with some pretty unorthodox means, if you will. Fast-forward I got into the working world and had some success, went and got my MBA, but later. And then started to kind of experiment around with some things and some people said you should be a coach like a life coach. So, I explored it a little bit and ADD coaching really seemed to be a place to go because I was a particularly organized person and people was like, “Hey. You could really help some people in this realm.” So I got into it and immediately started having some difficulty.

Jeff Copper:
So, I struggle with writing. I believe you’re dyslexic if I’m not mistaken and you do a really good job with the written word and done well with it. I struggle with it. So, when I first got ADD coach and I had to kind of figure out how I was going to do it on my own and coach myself and so interviewing people was a lot easier for me to create content. So, I started Attention Talk Radio back in 2009. And since that time I’ve done a show every week for over 10 years.

Jeff Copper:
And you and I have had some great shows. One of my honors was in 2014, when you came on the show because I realized that the first written reference to ADHD coaching was in Driven to Distraction in 1994. And that was the 20th anniversary. And so it was a real privilege for me to interview you on that and all the other experts that I’ve had. And since that time, I really like ADHD coaching because of the creativity that’s required to really talk about people and try to help them understand what works for them. And so I’ve been doing it ever since. Real joy, more of a calling.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And yes, thank you. Thank you for recognizing that it was in Driven to Distraction that I basically invented coaching and then left it to other people to take it and run with it. And thank goodness. The academic community laughed at me and they said, “Hallowell thinks coaching is important for ADHD.” And Biederman said, “Oh, I thought that was for baseball players not for patients.” And now it’s a mainstay. There’s seminars on coaching, continuing education on coaching, institutes on coaching. And it’s really works. Why don’t you tell listeners what’s so good about… What is it, first of all? And what’s so good about it for people with ADHD.

Jeff Copper:
So, when it comes to coaching, there’s kind of two forms as I describe. One is a behavioral approach where if you’re struggling with time management, somebody will walk in with a Franklin planner and a bunch of colored pencils metaphorically and tell you what to do every day and you kind of coach your behavior. Then there’s the other side, which is more of a life coaching side, where you really look at people and you begin to say, “Hey. Listen, you’ve got some systems.” So, what that looks like is a woman called me up one time with some time management problems. And I said, “Tell me about time. What does it look like?” She said, “It’s like a river that flows.” And I won’t go into the detail, what’s fascinating is how there’s droughts and the rainy season and the river goes fast and there’s rapids and it goes slow.

Jeff Copper:
But anyway, I started saying, “How would we manage time in the context of a river?” And we experimented around with timelines and for whatever reason, timelines work for her. And you can’t buy timelines in the self-help section of the bookstore, but we really tried to understand her individual brain wiring and understand how she saw time and we were able to come up with something that worked for her.

Jeff Copper:
Now, again, there’s different kinds of coaches, but I can pair and contrast those two because both of them have a real good place. I enjoy the more, I don’t know what’s going to work for you. Let’s try to figure that out. As an aside, I actually had a woman one time had credible sense of smell. Off the charts. And so we started experimenting around with it. And so we discovered a smell based to-do list and to my surprise-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh wow.

Jeff Copper:
Crayons have odor and that’s how she did it. And so as you can see, that’s not something you’ve probably heard of, but for some people with ADHD, because their brain wiring is a little different, with a little bit of creativity, you can come up on some solutions like that, that seem really, really odd that really, really work for people like her. Makes sense?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a great example. So how does the smell based to-do list work?

Jeff Copper:
I don’t recall why, but when she would smell a crayon, by the way they have color, I think you can get the 164 pack. She would associated things with it. And literally all she would do is take the color and she would draw a line on the sheet of paper and she would just take her nose and she’d smell it and she’d go through her list and for whatever reason it’s almost like the smell kind of hung in her mind. I know I do exercises what I call attention exercises with other people on some of the topics and I’ll talk to them and I’ll say, “Well, how’d you remember that?” Said, “I could hear your voice echoing in my mind.”

Jeff Copper:
So for whatever reason with her, she would smell it and would hold her attention and she would be able to remember to go execute whatever task that is. And so, you’re more of an expert on the brain and the particular wiring and I’m just a coach. I just help people find out what works and we do it. But that was just a fascinating instance.

Jeff Copper:
Another story, I was working with a woman one time and she wanted to talk about a to-do list. And I said, “What would it be like if you drew pictures of what your to-do was?” So she gave it a shot and she came back the next week she says, “Oh my God, that was really, really helpful.” And I said, “Great.” Normally I would end there, but she said, “You know something, I never realized that a letter is a symbol. And when I add the letters of a word into a word, that’s a symbol And then when I read a sentence, I actually have to build a picture in my mind.”

Jeff Copper:
So, she noticed how she would read the to-do. Then she would go and get distracted and she would have to go back and reassemble the picture in her mind. And she said, “I just get to where I wouldn’t do anymore.” She said, “When I draw the picture, I can look at the picture. I would make that association. I wouldn’t have to build the picture in my mind.” She said, “Because I didn’t have to go through the work. I would follow up on a little bit easier.” Again, just a fun little story to share what this looks like.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, absolutely. The visuals always matter in the world of ADHD. And you added in smell. That’s brilliant. That is brilliant.

Jeff Copper:
That’s one of the things that I spend a lot of time on because working memory is visual imagery or self-talk. And a lot of people with ADHD that struggle, a lot of times they’re struggling because they can’t visualize something or they can’t think in their mind. I do a lot of helping them realize that focus problem that you have is a focus problem but when you are working memory is over taxed and you can’t see it, let’s focus on relieving that, and then they can actually pay attention to for a little bit longer. So, you just brought that up and I just wanted to reiterate that a lot of times in coaching, we’re looking at working memory to try to address that, to make it easier for people to think.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. That’s make it easier to think. So you get what’s standing in the way out of the way.

Jeff Copper:
Exactly. It’s a little bit of digging down a little bit deeper to some things as opposed to just more superficial type ways of addressing stuff. I know one of the things that I do a lot of is back when I went to school, you would highlight a book and your notes and you put it right next to you and your eyes would dart back and forth to read and compare notes. In an academic world a lot of students are trying to work on a laptop. And if you read something and then you click on a tab and you scroll down trying to remember what you read from one tab or one browser to another often, you forget what you read while you’re scrolling.

Jeff Copper:
Well, that’s a working memory issue. And a lot of students will want tips, tricks, and strategies to deal with that when they really just need a second computer screen so they can put both of them up and their eyes dart back and forth. Not a commonality in the college environment, commonality in a corporate environment because they realize that’s there but a lot of students don’t realize it’s not the tip trick or strategy. It’s just, you need a second screen. So your eyes don’t have to hold that while they’re scrolling around.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s another great idea, Jeff. Yeah.

Jeff Copper:
Did an interview years ago with Dr. Russell Barkley and we talked about working memory and how paper, sometimes high-tech for people with ADHD because you can spread it out and see it all as opposed to trying to look through everything on a really small computer screen.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right, right. What are the ideal age for coaching? What’s the youngest you can successfully coach.

Jeff Copper:
I’m more of a behavior modification I think is probably more appropriate for the younger ones, teens, et cetera. I spend more time with adults 20 and up because I do a lot of trying to help them understand what works based off of their successes, as opposed to trying to change the system. We always go back and say, well, what systems do you have in place? And for an older adult, it’s easier to have those conversations, which is… I actually have a philosophy about organizational systems and everybody has a system. And if you focus on your current system and understand why it’s there, it’s usually easier just to tweak that system than it is to build something completely new. Makes sense?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Makes total sense. Yeah. Yeah. It’s always easier if you’re not starting from square zero. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of Omega Brite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking Omega Brite’s Omega-3’s CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations. Now there are many different products or brands of fish oil. Why is Omega Brite the best?

Dr. Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with a mega bright is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online. And Omega Brite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers showing Omega Brite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So, that’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits. And these benefits we know come from Omega Brite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3 which has say 180 milligrams of EPA in it that just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners. You can save 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com by using the promo code Podcast2020. All right, let’s get back to today’s topic.

Jeff Copper:
So, one of my favorite stories, I was coaching a real estate agent, residential. And it’s funny, she came to me because she described herself as a hot mess and she was disorganized. And one day she said, “I need to organize the way I track my prospects or my sales.” And what’s traditional is you go in, you log all your clients into a contact relationship manager which requires you go to the computer and a lot of tedious stuff. And I said, “No, no, no, no. Let’s just take a look at your current system.” And she argued with me that she didn’t have a system. And I said, “No. You do. You sell, you’ve got some clients.”

Jeff Copper:
So, after spending about 15 minutes of having a conversation with her about what she was doing, we realized every morning she’d wake up and she would scroll through her texts in her phone and she would scroll through her voicemails. What we realized is that everybody is reaching out to her or contacting her by those means. She would scroll and she would see the names, which would help her work a memory, identify what was there. And sometimes she would be really busy in a day and she wouldn’t get back to everybody. So, the next day she felt a little bit panicked trying to catch up, whether it’s her texts, her voicemails. And we began to realize it was a routine that she did every day was scrolling through her phone. We didn’t have to do anything about that. She would identify and react to it so that was working.

Jeff Copper:
But she was overwhelmed by it all because she couldn’t see all the clients and literally all we did is we got some Post-its two colors. One was for buyers and one was for listing agents. She went through, put their names on the Post-its, put them on a poster board and put on a chest of drawers and she put the prospects that were hot at the top, buyers on one side, listers on the other. And now she could see all of her activity. In that moment, number one, she was like, “Wow, I’m doing pretty good.” And number two, calm came over her because the issue is that she had a good system, but she felt overwhelmed because she couldn’t conceptualize it. And all we did was put it on the Post-its and she could see it. She didn’t interact with it and just brought a lot of peace to her.

Jeff Copper:
So in that situation, I’m demonstrating how we didn’t have to go to a whole new organizational system. All we had to do was solve this one little problem and what didn’t seem to work was actually working very, very well. Didn’t look like what maybe a system should look like, but I find a lot of people with ADHD sometimes if you just look at things as to what’s working, what’s the system, you can just tweak them a little bit and all of a sudden you get something that works. Feel different, huh?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. Wonderful. You’re a wealth of creative interventions, Jeff. It’s terrific.

Jeff Copper:
And another story, one of my favorites is I was actually coaching a psychiatrist one time they had ADHD and they wanted to coach her one day because they were late all the time. And, “You want a time management system?” They said, “Yeah.” “So, Let me ask you, how late are you?” They said, “10, 15 minutes late.” I said, “Are you ever an hour late?” “Well, yeah. Daylight savings time.” “You ever an hour early?” “Yeah. Daylight savings.” “Ha. You’re funny.” So I said, “Let me get this straight. You’re 10 to 15 minutes late, like 98% of the time.” They said, “Yeah.” I said, “Well, what’s your system?” They said, “That’s what I want to cut you on.” I go, “Well, if you’re consistently that late, you got to have a system. If you didn’t have a system, you’d be like 45 minutes late, you’d miss appointment.” He goes, “I don’t know. I guess I don’t like to be bored.” And I go, “There you go.”

Jeff Copper:
He goes, “Where I go, well, there’s no time management system in the world that’s going to solve that problem.” Then we began to have a conversation about boredom. And sometimes when a patient would come into the room and the nurse was there, he would walk in waiting for that. He barely would get off on something that he shouldn’t have been doing and would get in trouble because he didn’t do well with boredom. So when we got done, we began to realize, number one, he did have a system. Number two, there was a legitimate reason why he had that system to keep him out of trouble.

Jeff Copper:
And so we walked away feeling good about it. Now people complained a little bit about it, but he’s like, “I know you’re complaining about it, but it’s better than if I’m doing something I shouldn’t do and I don’t have to regulate.” So again, these are some stories that some people probably didn’t expect, but by looking at yourself and trying to understand why you do it, sometimes you can find some pretty cool stuff in the coaching paradigm. Sometimes you might do something to put Post-its, but other time it’s wait a second. I actually do have a system. So from an emotional perspective, I can realize there’s nothing wrong. It’s legitimate reason I do that. And sometimes it comes to grip with it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Jeff Copper:
Just fun stories.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You have wonderful stories, wonderful stories. And tells us about Attention Talk Radio.

Jeff Copper:
Well, Attention Talk Radio as I described earlier was born for me because I couldn’t write. So, I started interviewing experts, topically. When I first started doing it, I was like, “Okay, I’ll probably do a year’s worth of topics because there’s 52 weeks in a year. How many topics could there be?” Well, it’s over 10 years later still been doing the same thing and still been coming in with more and more topics. And as I’ve done that, I’ve learned over the years, a lot from again, experts like yourself or Dr. Thomas Brown or Dr. Barkley, or like Anne Dolan, educator, or other coaches, et cetera. And so it’s always been amazing to me that fundamentally there’s a limited number of concepts, but we’ve come up with lots of ideas that we illustrate. Like one of my favorites was with Ari Tuckman one time when we talked about manners, teaching kids manners.

Jeff Copper:
Now we think of manners as something that kids should do. But when you think about it, self-regulation is the ability to pause and override your urge just to do something. And if you’re going to have manners like hold the door for somebody or wait for everybody to be seated, you actually have to practice self-regulating. So, we did the show and we kind of illustrated how, as a parent you can use manners as a self-regulation exercise. Don’t worry about the mayors come into place, but continue to do it on a regular basis because it actually can teach kids the skill of stop, pausing and overriding some of that stuff to help them develop that skills.

Jeff Copper:
We’ve had other shows that I’d like to do is like years ago I was interviewing Dr. Roberto Lombardi who’s a psychologist. And we talked about how when he did his Harvard dissertation, he wrote it in two weeks. Most people would write their dissertation in a room with quiet. He actually wrote his with punk rock videos playing on the same screen that he was writing. And he said, the beat of the words kept him focused so he could get through that stuff.

Jeff Copper:
And so it’s been a fun journey along the way with Attention Talk Radio. Learning from mental health professionals, learning for teachers, lived experiences, some quirky things that worked for some people and et cetera. So, it’s been a real journey. And for me. I started doing it as it means not to write, but to get something out there. Little did I know I would get an amazing education along the way. And I know you’ve got a bunch of stories of things in your life that really kind of helped you. And one of my favorite is I think it was your first grade or second grade teacher who helped you read. And I think I’ve heard you say before, “Who would have believed that I would make a living with words when it was such a struggle back in those days.” I think really the story about people it ain’t cheap.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I couldn’t agree with you more. Absolutely Jeff. It’s really terrific.

Jeff Copper:
I’ve heard you speak a lot. And one of the things that you say that I know everybody gets is that it’s in the moment that you accept yourself and you quit fighting your ADHD and you begin to step in who you are that that transformation really takes place. And I think that you’re a testament that as other people are. And again, you said that before, I just want to highlight, your own personal story is your own triumph and accepting who you are. And I know you dedicate your practice and what you do to helping people do the same thing. And so those that are out there, that are struggling, I encourage you to take that mindset, it will help you a lot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re so right. And you’re very kind to say that. And you certainly done the same thing. Well, listen. I’m sorry. We are running out of time. You can find Jeff on the web at digcoaching.com and you can check out his podcast at attentiontalkradio.com. Jeff is a marvelous contributor to the world of ADHD and just a font of stories, experiences, tips as you’ve gotten a taste of today.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. If you haven’t heard my new book, ADHD 2.0 is available now. You can find a copy wherever books are sold, or by going to my website, DrHallowell.com or by clicking the link in the show notes. And remember to follow Distraction on social media and please continue to reach out to us with your comments and questions. Our email address is [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our audio engineer is the wonderful Scott Persson and our producer is the supremely talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thanks to Jeff Copper and thanks to you for listening.

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

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Why You Need an ADHD Coach

Why You Need an ADHD Coach

More people than ever before are hiring coaches to help them manage their lives. In this mini Ned explains what an ADHD coach actually does and why you should consider finding one.

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!

Reach out to us with your comments, questions and show ideas! Send us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! 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 is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega3 supplements for many years and so as 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:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today we are going to do a mini episode on the topic of, what does a coach do and why do you need one? Well, if you’re playing baseball, the coach will develop the batting order and give signs as to when to hit and when to steal. And you need one because it’s hard to run a baseball team without one, but that’s a baseball player.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In the world of ADHD, why might you need a coach and what would that coach do? Well, it depends on who you are and what kind of coach you’re looking for. When I came up with the idea of a coach for ADHD back in the early nineties when I was writing, Driven to Distraction, it occurred to me that most of these kids and adults for that matter didn’t need psychotherapy so much. That was the standard clinical intervention when you have an issue that brings you to a mental health professional was you get psychotherapy, which is talking about emotional conflicts in childhood and so on and so forth and that’s really not what people with ADHD needed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So I said to myself, the best model I can think of for what they need is indeed what that baseball player needs, someone to establish the batting order, someone to tell them when to hit and when to take, so on and so forth. Somebody to help them plan their day, their plan of attack, to have a game plan, to do what a coach does, what a sports coach does. That’s what they need with the practical details of life. So that’s what a coach does and why you need one is if you’re having trouble doing those things. People with ADHD typically know what they want to do, they just don’t do it. And that’s where a coach can help you plan, set up a schedule, set up a routine, whatever the structure is that will aid you in achieving what you want to achieve. He or she won’t tell you what to do, it’ll ask you what you want to get done and then set up a template, a program to help you get it done.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s very simple, very simple. It’s not psychotherapy and it’s not high level project management. It’s nuts and bolts. When do I brush my teeth? When do I pick up my book bag? When do I handed my paper? When do I apply for a raise? When do I get a haircut? When do I go to the dry cleaner? When do I have lunch? These are the kinds of things that hang up people with ADHD and a coach can help you get past that. It’s a wonderful intervention if I do say so myself, since I developed it. But it’s now very common, there are thousands and thousands of coaches and books about coaching and institutes on coaching and academies to train coaches. It’s taken off and well it should because it’s a wonderfully, wonderfully helpful intervention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, well, that’s it for me today. Thank you as always to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. Save 20% on your first order with the promo code, podcast 2020, at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I’m very happy to share with you the news that my new book, ADHD 2.0, is out now. I wrote it with Dr. John Ratey, my colleague and buddy. And we lay out a revolutionary new approach featuring new science and strategies to help people with ADD ADHD thrive. You can learn more about ADHD 2.0 and order a copy by clicking the link in the show notes or by going to my website at drhallowell.com. That’s D-R, no period, D-R-H-A-L-L-O-W-E-L-L, .com. You can also find it wherever books are sold.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And please reach out to us with your questions and comments by emailing [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the wonderfully talented, Scott Person. And our producer is the equally wonderfully talented Sara [inaudible 00:05:08]. 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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Being Productive When You Live In Chaos

Being Productive When You Live In Chaos

Kristin Seymour knows firsthand how tough it is to be productive when you have ADHD. Not only does she have ADHD, but Kristin is the mom of two ADHD teens, and she’s also an ADHD specialist.

The advanced practice nurse returns to Distraction to share more of her “life hacks” along with some special advice for parents of ADHD kids.

As Ned puts it, “Kristin has the knack, the understanding and natural empathy of one who has been there, of one who really burns to make sure others do not suffer the way she did.”

Kristin’s website: http://www.ADHDFogLifted.com

If you like this episode, please rate and review Distraction on Apple Podcasts! If you have a question, comment, or show idea please email it to [email protected].

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

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

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.

This episode was originally released in November 2018.

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

Kristin Seymour:
Everybody was just like, “What is going on?” And I really believed he was on the wrong medication, it was working, in fact, probably against him. That child is on the right medication now, he had three letters of commendation from emails from teachers this week, and is respecting mom at home.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today, I am thrilled to be joined by a guest we’ve had before, but we cannot have often enough. Kristin Seymour is one of our favorites. She is a clinical nurse practitioner from St. Louis. She is a specialist in cardiology on the faculty of the Barnes-Jewish hospital, one of the leading academic hospitals in the world, and she also just happens to be an expert on ADHD. Not only because she has it herself, but because she’s made it her business to develop a specialty while continuing to be specialists taking care of critical patients in the field of cardiology. She went on to write a book entitled The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey With ADHD, where she told about her personal struggle growing up in St. Louis. Ultimately, the amazing victory she had, where she now is really at the top of her game. And it’s a great treat and pleasure to welcome Kristin back to Distraction.

Kristin Seymour:
Well, thanks, Ned. I’m not sure I’m worth all of that, but thanks for the kind words. Good to be back and talking with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, we wanted to touch on a couple of topics. The first one being one that you’re often asked, namely, how do you manage to get done as much as you do? Being not only a cardiology specialist and ADD specialist, but a mom, a wife, and a incredibly busy woman, how do you achieve productivity in the midst of the chaos that ADD can create?

Kristin Seymour:
Right. That’s a good question because it’s probably the first thing everybody always asks. And I think the most important advice I’ve been giving people lately, and I’ve been taking myself, is to always come back to the core four, which is my four family members, myself, my husband and my girls. And every day starts and ends with what’s best for them, and what they need to get done, we all need to do throughout the day, and everything else goes around that. Barnes-Jewish hospital, I work my job around that, the girls, gym, my consulting works around my family. As long as you always keep your priority and your eye on the ball, which is your core four people or five, or your key three, however many in your family, that is the most important thing.

Kristin Seymour:
And that’s why I can do what I do. So that’s how each day begins and ends, and then everything else works around that. And so, I always try to figure out a way and resources available, to make sure I can get done what I need to do with my priority of the day. That’s probably the biggest thing, the first most thing. The second most important thing is just to be gentle with yourself and know you can only do so much, and not be afraid to say no. So, if someone wants to see me or do something or meet or have me take on an extremely time-consuming case and I know I can’t, I will wait a few weeks. You can only do what you can do. And a lot of us ADHD’ers are pleasers, perfectionists, always want to say yes. The other thing is incentivizing yourself.

Kristin Seymour:
Most all of the teams I work with, and college students, don’t understand the real meaning of incentive. Because we’re dopamine driven, love positive feedback, we need to reward ourselves for doing things that are mentally challenging or exhausting. So if somebody has to do a paper that they’re just completely dreading, they need to set time on it, attack it in compartments or small intervals, and then reward themselves when the paper is done. That soft and hard deadlines, things like that. Set a soft deadline of maybe a week before it’s really due or a few days and a hard deadline of the day it’s due. So you can have that cushion of time, it’s a backup. If it doesn’t get done due to illness or unexpected events.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You also had some other tips about productivity that I remember.

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah, the life hack. They’re shortcuts and ways to make things easier. I have a cooler in my car on certain days when I’m going to be running around town, going from place to place or hospital to hospital with ice packs in it. So I can pop by the grocery and throw a few items in it. Moat people like to go to different grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, wherever, and then put the different items and it keep them cold. So you’re not backtracking where you just were earlier that day, taking pictures of your receipts, that you have to expense items for your job. Not only do you have the day and time and receipt, you can virtually move that to a folder of 2018 expenses and a subheading. So you’re not messing with all of these different receipts.

Kristin Seymour:
So things like just trying to take shortcuts like that, or taking a picture of where you parked your car, because so many of us have that poor short-term memory at times. Dictating in your note, if you’re fortunate enough to have a smartphone, which I think most of the population does anymore, you can use the voice activated memo. And I dictate my to-do-list, dictate my emails, dictate things for… It’s hard for many of us to write down all of our thoughts and then uploading it to an email. And then you’ve got your whole some brief notes to go back to if you don’t have time to sit and write something. So those are all some good ideas to help people save time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
On another note, I know that you have worked with a number of high school students who were particularly lost, and do you have any sort of general themes and trends because I’ve seen you really turn them around? What are the issues you think are there?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, the best thing is when you can partner with parents, whether they’re married or divorced, all of these, every parent or guardian wants their child or student to succeed. And when you partner with them and better understand the dynamics, not only at home but at school and with their athletics and sports and extracurriculars, it’s a bigger picture than maybe sometimes the teacher sees, or maybe a parent can’t see the whole scope all the time. So what I like to do is if I can, and most often the families welcome it, it’s having a meeting of the minds with the school advisor, the student’s advisor, the head of the school, the Dean of students, the parents, and sometimes, with the student and sometimes without to just see what pressure this kid is under. Because sometimes when everyone’s on the same page, things go amazing.

Kristin Seymour:
But sometimes people are missing a link. So partnering with the school, really understanding everyone and learning what’s best for the student, it’s just really, really effective. You have some parents who think the school should do every single thing and the parents should do nothing. That’s not correct. You have some parents that think the school does nothing, and they have no idea what the school is capable of because they’ve never sat down and looked at the whole picture. So when they start learning, when they’re younger in high school and junior high, it’s really cool and fascinating and remarkable to see what they’re able to execute on their own with mom and dad far away, their coach, me, far away on their own, thing outside the box to partner with the school

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you say partnering with the school comes as news to some parents?

Kristin Seymour:
Exactly. And the biggest thing, if I can say that I’ve witnessed is when the parents come in with an open-mind and calm and wanting to partner and say, “Thank you for all you’ve done for Sally,” whoever, the student. “We are so fortunate to have a team like you.” And not have to kiss their rear end, but really partner because the school works really hard too. And then say, “What are we able to accomplish within reason?” And they’re going to work with you, but coming in, they’re angry and upset and kicked off and with a chip on your shoulder and offensive about something or a diagnosis a situation, that will not be a helpful approach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s a pretty natural of alliance. I mean, you’re all on the same team. So it’s really, you’re opening a natural door. There’s no reason to keep it closed. And because all that stuff is born out of anxiety, how do you help parents become less anxious? And how do you help them come into the school with the right attitude?

Kristin Seymour:
That is a great, great question. The first thing I usually do is just tell them, and I sometimes feel rude saying this that I have to say, “Let’s just slow down.” And I hate when people say that to me. So I feel like I have regret, but, “Let’s just take a breath. Let’s sit down. Let’s slow down. Let’s see what the grades really are to date.” How anxious is the student? How vital are sports? How far are we in the season? And it just lets the parents settle down and know that we probably can drop an AP course. We probably can maybe decrease the time on the ACT for our class on a weekend, on top of the tournament. Let’s space things out differently. The school’s on our side. If it’s a public school and private, but more public, there’s laws that protect that parent. It don’t have to be so hysterical.

Kristin Seymour:
There are standards in place if you’re not getting what we need for your students. Private schools, they have standards as well, very high ones as well. But those same laws are always applied. So therefore, you can say, “We’re paying tuition. We’re seeking this education. Let’s partner on this together.” But not in a threatening way. The parents didn’t think you’re right. The ball is in our court. There’s one parent that I’ve ever had to say who actually was so anxious that we had to do a meeting before the meeting to role play. And then, that parent is probably going to… There’s some parents that end up needing a little bit more, like working out, exercising, and taking out caffeine because they just feed their anxiety. But other than that, they usually get very calm when they feel they have a partner or that the school is really on their side.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, just your sort of taking the by the hand and saying, “We can do this together.”

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. And the parents were just like, “What is it that you’re doing that we’re not?” And I’m like, “It’s just because sometimes it comes from somebody else who’s not in a position of authority like a teacher or a parent, but they command. They have the respect for it as well, and you’re up here, but you get the brain because I lived it.” And I know what they’re saying when they say they can’t focus. I know why they have to get up after 10 minutes to take a break.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of OmegaBrite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking OmegaBrites, and Omega-3s, CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations. Now, there are many different products, brands, fish oil, why is OmegaBrite the best?

Dr. Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with OmegaBrite is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online. And OmegaBrite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers, showing OmegaBrite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So, that’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits. And these benefits we know come from OmegaBrite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3, which has say 180 milligrams of EPA in it. That just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order at OmegaBritewellness.com by using the promo code Podcast2020. All right, let’s get back to today’s topic. What do you wish someone had told you when you were in high school in trying to figure it all out?

Kristin Seymour:
That it truly can be an asset and it’s good news. It’s a gift, if you harness it properly, that it’s not a curse, that it sometimes might feel like one, but that you have an incredible ability to think large and accomplish much. You’re not a failure and you are smart because all of us feel so dumb.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how did you beat the odds? I mean, how did you manage to make it?

Kristin Seymour:
Well, probably when I got my diagnosis, I was so relieved to know it wasn’t my fault, if you will. And at 19, I was like, “This is such a relief to know I’m not stupid and I’m not lazy and I’m not applying myself.” And after trying everything that was non-medication, scheduled routine structure, diet, exercise, sleep, everything like that, then when I went on the medication, it was really a big game changer because I was such a textbook case. And that was what changed it around. But then I thought nothing’s going to stop me, nothing was getting in my way. I just had this desire to be a nurse. And I’m like, “I don’t care what I have to do to do this. I’m going to do it.” And then that clarity was a relief.

Kristin Seymour:
And then I was like, “This is fine, and this is easy.” And I can’t believe how much I actually liked school. And the other thing is, this is just a side note. My parents never gave up, they really didn’t. And they did love me through that. But when I was dating people or if my friends in high school college and post-college, those people believed in me and those people cheerleaded [inaudible 00:14:53] like gym, the whole way through. Those are the people that have your back and support you in so many loving ways, why I was successful off medication too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. How much difference did medication make for you?

Kristin Seymour:
100%, because everything else was not, I mean, working that we had tried over so many years and even after diagnosis. And so in 1992, Dr. Garrett Burris was like, “Let’s just try this.” And I think this is, “She’s a classic case,” and we did it. And it was literally like turning on the windshield wipers in a rain storm and clarity or a cable from a non-cable TV. It truly is that way. And I had a patient I’m working with, he’s so impulsive in 8th grade, he opened the car door while his mom was driving down an interstate, and he’s fine, but he was just doing so many impulsive things. And just everybody, the school, everybody was just like, “What is going on?” And I really believe he was on the wrong medication, was working in fact probably against him because it was not the right dose.

Kristin Seymour:
It was like sometimes when you don’t have the right medication at the right dose, it’s sub-therapeutic. It’s not effective. It’s not against him, but it wasn’t working in his favor. It wasn’t making a difference. So, that child is on the right medication now that I suggested to as a psychiatrist. He had three letters of commendation from emails from teachers this week or last week, I apologize, at the end of last week. And is respecting mom at home and doing so well. And that is so fast that you can see how fast the correct plan all around and medication can be effective in major ways.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The correct plan and medication, I think so true. But I would add, and you don’t know how well you do this, but I’ve seen it. You advocating, you really go to bat for these kids. And I think in a way that a lot of doctors don’t have time or don’t feel that it’s their role or what have you, but I’ve seen you. I mean, you go right in there, you go right into the school and you get right in with the kids and you really cheer-lead them in a big way. And I think that element is often forgotten that people don’t realize how important that is.

Kristin Seymour:
You’re exactly right. And when you work with cases where you have to always remember that child, your parents are trusting you and them as a team. And that child is all I care about. I mean, the parents vision and their mission and their beliefs is important, but one parent goes, “Medicine’s not an option for us.” And I said, “Well, this isn’t your journey, this is Sally’s journey.” And we need to really reevaluate what this is about. Let’s look at the facts, because right now, your child is so defeated. They’re going to turn to something else possibly to calm their mind, and that’s that.

Kristin Seymour:
And that usually is very powerful because if she was diabetic or chemo if she had cancer, or eyeglasses for vision problems, I mean, let’s stop and think about this. And that really bothers them when they don’t want to, because they don’t believe in it, or they don’t believe the facts. Look at the MTA analysis. Look at all the good data out there that shows how effective it can be without long-lasting side effects. To be effective, it’s not about making friends with everybody. You have to be direct and factual and represent and do a good job for that student.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Why do you think there aren’t more services like the ones you provide? They’re very hard to find people who do it the way you do it.

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. I don’t know. I think probably because some people think that they’re a good coach or accountability coach or advocate and they probably are. I mean, I think there’s just not a lot of people who’ve lived it and lived it well that want to talk about it, and share some of the struggles I had and how I wanted to get in there with them and say, “I know you’d probably rather poke your eyeballs out or starved herself to death than do this paper, but I know that feeling, but let’s bite off in little chunks.” Not a lot of people would admit they had to go through that to get through school, or didn’t even know they had it, or don’t care enough, or don’t want to spend that much time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. I mean, I think people forget this is not just take a pill and see me in the morning kind of thing.

Kristin Seymour:
Right? No. No, it’s literally the student and I meeting with the parents and going sometimes to where they… Whether it’s FaceTime, virtually or in person and seeing the dynamic and the setup. What does homework look like in your house? Where are you sitting and how can we make this more effective? And let’s make some strategies that will work or… You know what I mean? It’s kind of like taking on a family, “Okay, I see this girl who I love and I’m working with right now.” And this girl is awesome. I mean, she’s more athletic, smarter, prettier, more competent than I was and I diagnosed with ADHD, combined type with anxiety, just similar to what I would have been in high school.

Kristin Seymour:
This girl wants to help herself so much and is willing to do anything I say and suggest, and her parents as well, that I burn to help them. So my daughter, I take care of my girls, take care of my family, take care of myself. And then when I have time and my kids are out or doing something else, I will go over to that house. So I will meet in my office and help this family, because this kid wants it as bad as I do. But when I seem to care more than the child or more than the parent, that’s not good. Those are the cases I do my best with, but it’s when the parents are so wanting me and they’re all engaged that I just like in it with them. And those are the ones who have the fastest improvement too within a month.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I could talk to you for a long time. I want to remind people that you’ll be at the International ADHD Conference in St. Louis, November 8th to the 11th. And you’ll be talking about self-medication and vaping, is that correct?

Kristin Seymour:
Yeah. In all students, but particularly in ADHD, impulsive students and what that does to the brain and their behaviors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And the conference will have a ton of wonderfully interesting speakers. So if any of you want to go and can go, I really recommend it. And again, Kristin’s book is called The Fog Lifted: A Clinician’s Victorious Journey With ADHD. And if people want to reach you, what’s the best way for them to reach you?

Kristin Seymour:
They can reach me on my website. It’s ADHDfoglifted.com, and there’s a contact form there. But they’re into my email, I believe my business email’s in my book as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good. Well, your messages is very practical, but also very hopeful and inspiring. You’ve lived it, you practice it and you put in that kind of work and don’t give up and you do get a good outcome. Well, Kristin, thanks a million for taking the time to join us. I know how really busy you are and as always, you’re wonderful. We have to have you on again soon. Thank you so much.

Kristin Seymour:
Thank you, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction, and thank you so much for joining us. 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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An ADHD Coach Helps You Live A More Fulfilling Life

An ADHD Coach Helps You Live A More Fulfilling Life

One of the strength-based approaches to managing ADHD that Dr.H frequently recommends is to hire a coach. This week fellow ADHDer Alex Hey, the founder of Reset ADHD, shares what led him to start his own coaching practice for teens and adults, how religion played a part, and the sleep formula he’s developed to help his clients fall asleep faster.  

Links mentioned in this episode:

Reset ADHD

David Giwerc’s ADD Coach Academy 

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

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! 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. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com, that’s B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. It is the college of choice for students who learn differently. And I have an honorary degree from that college. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Alex Hey:
So that’s the approach I take with ADHD coaching, is if instead of admitting defeat to ADHD, you hit the reset button and start again with some fresh strength-based strategies and hopefully can live a more fulfilling life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today I’m going to be talking to a fascinating man whose name is Alex Hey, but that’s spelled H-E-Y because it’s German, he told me. He is a ADHD coach and started an organization called Reset ADHD in 2018. He’s only 27 years old, but he’s lived a long life. He lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And if you go to YouTube, you can watch a wonderful bit that I just watched myself. But I’d like him to tell us his story. So I’m just going to welcome you, Alex, to Distraction. Tell this audience how you got into the world of coaching and how you found out about ADHD.

Alex Hey:
Yeah, so I was diagnosed at the age of 20. I’ve always had issues paying attention and whatnot, but what really came to the forefront at the age of 20 was I was in a chapel praying one day and wasn’t able to focus. My faith is really important to me and I felt like a fraud because if I can’t focus on one of the most important things in my life, what’s that say about my faith? So that really crushed me. I left the chapel that day thinking, “Something’s got to change here, so I got to figure out what’s going on.” That’s when I got a diagnosis for ADHD. A few years of studying that on the side and in my free time turned into a passion for studying it, which turned into a book, which turned into me having this passion for helping others with ADHD. And that’s when I founded ADHD coaching.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You wrote a book about it.

Alex Hey:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What’s the name of your book?

Alex Hey:
Catholicism and ADHD: Finding Holiness Despite Distractions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, that sounds fascinating. How did you tie the two together, Catholicism and ADHD?

Alex Hey:
It was just all the challenges you face in your daily life with ADHD also comes to a head when you’re trying to pray and trying to grow in holiness while you’re having ADHD. So it was just the two together. It was really important to me to find a way to manage my own faith life if having ADHD. That’s what inspired me to write the book, is there wasn’t a book out there about ADHD and Catholicism. So I wrote one.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful. One of the challenges in life with ADHD is feeling separate, apart and alone. As I told you before we went on the air, I am an Episcopal, which is similar to Catholic. We just don’t have a Pope. So I think of the Holy Spirit as my friend who’s always with me, the father, son and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the messenger and the healer. And despair is the sin against the Holy Spirit because you shut out the message of good news. I think for us with ADHD, if we happen to have a belief system like that it can be very helpful to just know, whether you’re paying attention or not, the Holy Spirit is there with you. You’re never alone.

Alex Hey:
Absolutely. I think that’s a great way of putting it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ll have to get your book. Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve heard someone try to integrate those two topics and they’re both very important to me as well. I’m so glad you did that. You were only 20 something when you wrote this?

Alex Hey:
Yeah. So trying to think when I officially started it. I officially started writing it in 2017. So I’d have been 24 when I started writing it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. And it got published?

Alex Hey:
I self published it, but-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, good for you. So I could find it on Amazon though?

Alex Hey:
Correct, yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then you went to a David Quirk’s Coaching Academy. Is that correct?

Alex Hey:
That is correct. Learned a lot there.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Tell us about that.

Alex Hey:
Well, when I was looking for ADHD coach training, I saw the ADD Coach Academy and it seemed like a really good institution. So I went there, took almost every class they offered and the only one I didn’t do is the family program that they have. But I did Simply ADHD, Personal Transformation, Basic Coaching, Advanced Coaching. Learned a whole lot there. Really changed my life. Met some great people through that. Met my mentor coach through the ADD Coach Academy. So lots of good experiences there. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I agree with you. David Quirk is really a pioneer in the world of coaching and just a mensch, to use a Yiddish term. You now do a full-time practice. Is this your job, your full-time job?

Alex Hey:
Yeah, this is what I do. I made my office in my house. Looking to grow my practice, so if anyone out there is looking for a coach…

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How would they reach you?

Alex Hey:
They can go to my website, Reset ADHD. Or they can find me on all the social medias at Reset ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And that’s R-E-S-E-T, resetadhd.com. And obviously you do the coaching over Zoom or over telephone?

Alex Hey:
Yeah. I use Skype, FaceTime, the phone.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you have a philosophy of coaching? Or you just tailor it to the individual need of your client?

Alex Hey:
Oh, I mean, a lot of it is individualized, but the name of my practice is Reset ADHD. And where that comes from is I used to play video games a lot when I was younger. When I would be playing my brother, when we were little, he would always be kicking my butt at whatever sports game we were playing and I’d want to quit at halftime. He’d try and convince me to keep playing. He found a way to manipulate me into keeping playing and the game would never get better at halftime. So what I would want to do is I’d want to hit the reset button on the N64 and so the game would start over. Because if the game didn’t end, I didn’t lose. So that’s the approach I take with ADHD coaching, is if instead of admitting defeat to ADHD, you hit the reset button and start again with some fresh strength-based strategies and hopefully can live a more fulfilling life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. The strength-based is so key. Do you coach all ages?

Alex Hey:
Teens and adults.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s usually not terribly helpful if they’re younger than that, I think. I mean, little guys and girls get the coaching from their teachers and their parents. But I think as you get older, your parent… I only think of coaching is what a parent would do minus the nag factor, you know?

Alex Hey:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Once again, I want to tell you about the favorite supplement that I take and my wife takes, OmegaBrite. Go to omegabritewellness.com for their fish oil supplement, their omega-3 supplement, their CBD supplement. They’ve been our sponsor so, of course, I’m going to tell you to go buy their product. But in addition to sponsoring us, they have really helped my health, my wife’s health and the many of my patients who I’ve encouraged to take the OmegaBrite products. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E. Particularly with all the stress we’re feeling these days, the antioxidant effect of OmegaBrite, the anti-inflammatory effect of OmegaBrite is a real stress reducer and health promoter. OmegaBrite CBD and omega-3 supplements are top of the line. You can find all of their supplements online at OmegaBrite, that’s B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order of omega-3 and CBD supplements at omegabritewellness.com by entering the promo code, podcast 2020. All right, let’s get back to the show. So are you working on another book maybe?

Alex Hey:
Not at the moment. Just did a bunch of research into ADHD and sleep, which turned into some YouTube videos, but-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, great. Wonderful. What did you find? It’s a problem. Most people with ADD have trouble going to sleep. Then they have trouble waking up.

Alex Hey:
Yeah, so that’s one of the things I found. I came up with a sleep formula to help you fall asleep.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, what is it? Share it, please.

Alex Hey:
It’s in bed, plus feeling tired, plus a calm mind, equals sleep. You need to physically get into bed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do you achieve that third one?

Alex Hey:
A calm mind?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Alex Hey:
You have to find something to focus your brain on, but not something so exciting that it energizes. But just something calm and relaxing so you can stop thinking about X, Y or Z that’s spinning around your head. So getting outside of your own thoughts and just focusing on something external. One of the things I do is I listen to a podcast called Sleep With Me. And if I’m not mistaken, you featured them on this podcast before.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes. That’s wonderful. So Sleep With Me helps you go to sleep.

Alex Hey:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You don’t have a romantic partner that you sleep with?

Alex Hey:
No, I don’t.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Because that could also make it easier if you’re not… But when you’re sleeping alone, it’s easy to get lost in your negative thinking, if you’re not careful. On this podcast I talked about the default mode network, which is the negative thought generator that we have in spades, we people with ADD, when our imagination becomes our enemy instead of our ally. One of my mantras is never worry alone. Well, if you’re in bed by yourself, you’re going to be worrying alone. But that’s where the Holy Spirit can help you out, if you access it, or your idea of focusing on something neutral to try to engage, that will shut down the default mode network.

Alex Hey:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The role of medication? Do you use medication or do you control your distractibility without medication?

Alex Hey:
I use Concerta.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Uh-huh (affirmative), good medication. For listeners, Concerta is methylphenidate, long-acting methylphenidate. It was the first long-acting stimulant developed by scientists at MIT. Before Concerta we only had the immediate, really short-acting, lasts about four hours. So patients were left saying, “Well, how am I supposed to remember to take the pill that’s supposed to help me to remember to take the pill?” But when Concerta came in, that all changed. So you could have a medication that would last all day. Of course then, when it wears off, you’re left with your homework if you’re a kid. So I usually add a short-acting Ritalin, what I call the homework pill. So you take, let’s say, 36 milligrams of Concerta in the morning. It lasts until around four o’clock in the afternoon. Then you take 10 milligrams of Ritalin to get you through your homework. And then you go to bed. But you don’t take a second… You don’t take a homework pill?

Alex Hey:
No, I don’t take a homework pill. I just stick with 54 milligrams in the morning.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
54, that’s a good number. Concerta is so weird. It comes in these multiples of nine. It comes in 18, 27, 36, 54, 72, but I don’t know why they did it that way. Okay, joining me now is Professor Christie Herbert of Landmark College, our wonderful sponsor in beautiful Putney, Vermont. Professor Herbert has worked with students with ADHD for 35 years and has also trained teachers on how to work effectively with students with ADHD and other learning differences. She is a Professor of Fine Arts at Landmark and most recently coordinated the college’s Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art. Welcome to our podcast, Professor Herbert.

Christie Herbert:
Thank you. Good to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So tell us what you do, please.

Christie Herbert:
I teach at the college and as people may or may not know, Landmark College is specifically geared toward students who learn differently or, as we like to say, who are neuro-divergent. So the bulk of my responsibilities are to design curriculum and deliver curriculum and work effectively with students as both a professor and as an advisor.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What do you do differently than, say, they do at Amherst or Colby or Harvard or neuro-typical colleges?

Christie Herbert:
Well, I like to think that first and foremost, when I’m teaching, I’m not making judgements about what’s happening with the students. I’m being very patient and thinking a lot about communicating as clearly as possible and being structured in a way that will help them be successful. So for example, this morning I was teaching and I was working with students to prepare for an upcoming, specifically, I was teaching a ceramics course and I gave them a log in which to draw pictures of all of the ceramics they were planning to glaze. I very methodically went over, here are some of your choices and got them excited about it.

Christie Herbert:
And then I paused a moment and said, “So this is also going to help you with your executive functioning.” And I asked them why that was and what would be useful about doing this, how might they use it, what is irritating about it. So in a sense, one thing that might be different about what I’m doing from other colleges is inserting this meta conversation that helps students think about, how am I going to do the best I can here academically and otherwise? How can I think about this? How can I develop my abilities to be as successful as I can?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s because you understand the obstacles they face so well and teachers at other colleges don’t, because they don’t really understand the kinds of different brains that we have. We could go on and on, but this is a tease just to get people more interested in Landmark College, which actually I have an honorary degree from.

Christie Herbert:
Yes, we love it!

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I love Landmark College. It is the best of its kind. And if you want to learn more, please go to lcdistraction.org, that’s lcdistraction.org. Landmark college, the college for students who learn differently. Thank you so much, Professor Christie Herbert.

Christie Herbert:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What is your feeling about the way ADHD is regarded these days? Do you think stigma is subsiding and the strength-based approach is coming to the fore?

Alex Hey:
I think so. I think we’re getting there. I think still it’s a little hard for people to take ADHD seriously. I think sometimes in the media it’s portrayed as a joke and that’s not helpful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. No, it is portrayed as a joke. People just don’t understand it. If they understood it and didn’t dismiss it, they could really get a lot of help, because a lot of people have it and don’t know it, particularly high achieving people. People who are at the top of their game doing great, they don’t realize that they could do even better, get more done with less effort if they got their ADHD diagnosed and treated. So the high achievers and the women, females, the biggest undiagnosed groups. The people who are in school, they think you have to be failing to get diagnosed. And it’s just not true.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I graduated with high honors from Harvard while doing pre-med and I’ve written 20 books and I’m small potatoes compared to some people who have this condition. Nobel Prize winners with it. It is absolutely, doesn’t have to be associated with failure, although it can be. That’s why it’s so important to get it dealt with. If you deal with it, things can only get better. One of the key elements of dealing with it is what you’re doing, Alex, coaching, resetting ADHD. I love that, Reset ADHD. Well, do you have any final thoughts or comments you’d like to share with the listeners?

Alex Hey:
No. I mean, I do want to echo what you just said about the high achievers. I think one of the reasons I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 20, is I was smart and was getting by in school. I just want to echo that it doesn’t mean you’re stupid or anything like that. And if you think you might have ADHD, but you’re doing okay in school, it’s still a possibility.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. And you’re living proof of it. So am I. Well, listen, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m very impressed with your story and what you’ve done. Listeners, go to resetadhd.com or find Alex at Reset ADHD on social media. He’s a tremendous resource if you’d like someone to coach you. I can tell just by talking to him over the telephone. He has a very calm, steady way about him, which you want in a coach. And that’s terrific, Alex Hey, but remember, it’s spelled H-E-Y. Thank you so much for joining us, Alex and good luck with Reset ADHD and resetadhd.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, listeners, please reach out to us with an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the wonderful Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the equally wonderful Scott Persson with two s’s. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

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. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

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

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

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

Episode image by Daniel Xavier from Pexels.

Listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4 Core Areas for Self-Assessment

4 Core Areas for Self-Assessment

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

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

Email Rebecca Shafir at [email protected].

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

Rebecca’s book: The Zen of Listening

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

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

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

Click here to listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah.

Rebecca Shafir:

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And this is over Zoom or in person?

Rebecca Shafir:

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

I did.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

Yes, it’s a virtual study buddy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And then the final one?

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

Correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rebecca Shafir:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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ADHD and Success Can Go Hand in Hand

ADHD and Success Can Go Hand in Hand

Angela Stephens does more in a day than some do in a week! 🙂 This spectacular ADHDer shares her story which includes starting a successful company that creates products designed specifically to help people with ADHD manage their busy lives. Angela is an inspiration and full of energy!

Find all of Angela’s products at Time2Refocus.com.

Angela’s podcast: Re-Focus with Angela Stephens

We’d love to hear from you! Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone and send it to [email protected]

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

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

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All About ADHD Coaching

All About ADHD Coaching

David Giwerc created the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches over twenty years ago. He joins Ned to talk about how the whole coaching thing works, whether you want to use one or become one. The conversation takes an especially interesting turn when David uses his coaching expertise on Dr. H as they explore the results of an online “character strengths” test that Ned took while recording this episode.

To learn more about becoming or finding an ADHD coach go to ADDCA.com or email [email protected]. To take the character strengths test that Dr. H took while recording this episode go to: VIACharacter.org.

Do you have a question or comment? Write an email or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone with your question and send it to [email protected]

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

Learn about our sponsor, Landmark College, HERE.

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