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

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

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

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

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

City and Country School in New York City

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

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

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

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

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Now Is the Time to Rethink Your Plans

Now Is the Time to Rethink Your Plans

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the education system, and no one is really sure what school is going to look like in the fall. From higher education institutions to preschools, everyone is trying to figure out a way forward. Taking a “gap year” is one option many college bound students are considering. Rick Fiery of Inventive Labs, an entrepreneurial incubator, discusses the pros and cons of the gap year approach with Ned, who shares his own experience with taking a gap year!

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

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

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Rick Fiery:

The college experience next year is going to be very, very different. And I don’t know what you think Ned, but I don’t think it’s going to be very conducive to people with ADHD. Online is really, really tough for folks to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Today, we have a guest who has been on the show before, and a guest whom we love and adore, who was an amazing entrepreneur himself. And along with his partner, Tom Bergeron, no, not that Tom Bergeron, but another Tom Bergeron, on some years ago, founded Inventive Labs in Amesbury, Massachusetts, and amazing place that takes kids and some older folks who are entrepreneurial, but don’t want to go to school or can’t go to school or have tried school and found they’re allergic to it. They go up to Inventive Labs and they find a place, an incubator, if you will, where they can share with other Inventives as they’re called, rather than students, other Inventives and learn how to develop and start a business, or build a boat or a design a dress or whatever might be the entrepreneurial creative outlet that they’ve found for themselves.

It’s an amazing place, an incredible place. And we are thrilled to welcome its co-founder Mr. Rick Fiery, aptly named because he is indeed a fiery man. And he’s here to not only talk about Inventive Labs, but an idea that he has related to what he’s seen during the pandemic. So without further ado, let me welcome my friend and colleague, Mr. Rick Fiery.

Rick Fiery:

Well, thanks Ned as always, it’s amazing to talk to you and kind of share some stories and have a conversation. And that’s what I was kind of hoping to do today. I would add that we did start out as entrepreneurship as kind of a thing that we wanted to help people with. And that was probably… It’s hard to believe it’s about seven years ago that we started and we’ve also morphed quite a bit. We’ve listened to what people have wanted and we’ve added, probably about five years ago, what we call kind of career prep and gap year programs as well. Because we felt that… We saw that people really wanted to start a business potentially.

But they also realized pretty quickly that they needed to gain some more knowledge and maybe get some industry experience in a field before they jumped into the entrepreneurship group. So like good entrepreneurs, we listened to our customers and we pivoted and we’ve expanded and added those programs about five years ago. So I think that’s an important component to what we do. In fact, those programs have turned out to be very, very popular with people to where we have probably, interestingly enough, we probably have more people enrolled in gap year and career prep than entrepreneurship right now. That may change though, with the latest shift in the economy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What about your idea related to what people have learned from distance learning?

Rick Fiery:

Well, I think what has happened, interestingly, I think in the world, quite frankly, the whole world right now is on pause for a number of different reasons. And a lot of people, when they’re considering college, we kind of believe, especially with people with ADHD, they really need to know why they’re going to college. I would say that the number one question that ADHD-ers ask is always, “Why? Why do I need to do this? Why do I need to study English literature if I’m going to be an engineer?” That was my question when I was in college. Why do I need to do this? What am I going to get from it if I put forth this effort?

What we’ve tried to focus on with people is really identifying their strengths, identifying their weaknesses, and then based on their strengths and weaknesses pick a career direction first. I think when I was younger, people didn’t ask me where I was going to go to college. They asked me what I was going to do for my life, what I was going to do for a career. And then once you knew that, then you pick the college. I think right now it’s kind of a race to pick the best possible college that people can potentially brag about it to their friends at a cocktail party. And I think it’s gotten backwards.

So from our perspective, people have struggled in the past to take a gap year, but they’ve struggled in the past because they think they’re going to fall behind. That’s been the number one reason that people have said, “Hey, I’m not really comfortable doing this. I’m going to fall behind.” And our point right now with everything that’s going on with the pandemic, et cetera, the college experience next year is going to be very, very different.

And I don’t know what you think Ned, but I don’t think it’s going to be very conducive to people with ADHD. Online is really, really tough for folks to do. And we’ve seen that firsthand. We went online partly for our program and it worked, but it was very different. It was a different kind of experience. And for online and the colleges going forward, it’s going to be an extremely difficult environment for people with ADHD. So kind of our point is, if there was ever a time to take, not a gap year, but what I would call it a focus year. Where you can focus yourself, identify your strengths and weaknesses and take a break and figure out where you’re aiming before you go marching off to college or marching into a career and get it right.

And you’re going to save a lot of time, frustration, potentially failure, and many other bad things from happening if you just hit the pause button for a second. So I kind of, the thing that has struck us is that if ever there was a time to do it, now you have a great reason to do it. And there’s no reason to go marching off to college this fall, or even the next spring, with the way the environment is going to be for folks.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. I think the experiment in distance learning, using Zoom and other tools has really taught us how much better live and in-person education is, not just for people with ADHD, for everyone. I think the experiment has largely failed. And I have a lot of… I’m doing all my seeing of patients over Zoom now. And, that’s a perfectly acceptable replacement, but I’m not teaching a course, nor am I trying to learn physics or chemistry or English literature for that matter. It’s really difficult for people to both teach and learn.

I’ve talked to teachers about this, many teachers and I’ve talked to many parents and I’ve talked to many frustrated students. I haven’t heard one person say, “Oh, this is really great.” Not one. I’ve heard people say, “I’m glad they’re able to continue the educational process in some way.” But it’s always followed by, “I can’t wait to get back to live and in-person schooling.” I think drives home the point I’ve always made about the importance of connection and in-person human connection is the best. Virtual electronic connection is okay. But it just isn’t the same thing. And certainly for folks with dyslexia and ADHD, both of which I have, it would just be torture.

It would be a real exercise in going backwards to head off to school in September with the expectation of doing online courses. And I think you’re so right to say this is a perfect time and it’s not a pause. You say hit the pause button. You’re not pausing. You’re just redirecting. You’re saying what is being offered won’t work for me. It will be torture. It will make me hate what I’m studying and hate school and hate life. And turn me into a very miserable human being.

So why in the world would I want to do that when I can redirect to something else? Inventive Labs is one distinct possibility, but there are so many others. Travel, get a job, look into areas of life that you’ve never seen before. Explore your city, your region, your family, your ethnicity. I mean, you could really do the equivalent of a Montessori education, which is follow your curiosity. So I’m with you 100%, 1000%. And I think this is the ideal time to redirect rather than paying a huge tuition for, at best, a second rate experience in college, if you’re having to do it.

Rick Fiery:

Exactly. And honestly, I think if you look at the college experience for most people, at least for me when I look back at mine, the big… Academics was certainly part of it, but a big part of it was social growth. I was totally introverted and shy and terrified about public speaking and getting up in front of people and doing presentations. And I didn’t have a whole lot of friends in high school, but I got to college and socially, I was able to blossom. And in the fall those opportunities aren’t going to be there. There isn’t going to be the team sports, there isn’t going to be intramurals, there isn’t going to be fraternity rush, there isn’t going to be sorority rush, there isn’t going to be the ability to exercise, there isn’t going to be the ability to isolate and study in a private area, in a library.

Again, it’s just, they’re going to be in a very difficult environment. Plus accommodations are going to be even harder to come by because the classes will be recorded, which is nice. But note taking is still a challenge and extra time is going to have to be negotiated. I’ve seen that with some of the folks that we work with trying to get that done in an online environment. And it just adds to the level of difficulty and stress and anxiety. And there’s enough of that in the world right now. So from our perspective, it’s a golden opportunity to say the time is right to find your focus, to find your drive, to find a direction that you want to head, that you can get excited about. And if you can do that, then the chances of you being successful academically or in a career that you choose, or if you can decide to start up a business right now in the middle of all this, the chances of success are just much, much higher.

So we just were frustrated in seeing that some folks are just saying, “Yeah, I’m going to go back to college in the fall.” And what we’ve heard from many of them is, for 20% or so, it’s going to be an in-person experience that they have things like labs or things that require hands-on. And for the rest, it’s going to be an online experience. And that just doesn’t make a lot of sense to us right now. So that’s why we’re kind of waving the flag and we’re seeing some people send some folks off with ADHD for their very first college experience in this kind of an environment. And it just seems like the wrong thing to do right now.

[SPONSOR BREAK]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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Dr. Ned Hallowell:

When I was in college, I went to Harvard and I took off the year between junior and senior year. And I worked during the summer on Cape Cod. I lived on Cape Cod as a tutor during the daytime. I tutored high school kids in English and math. And then in the evening, I worked as a waiter at a famous restaurant in Chatham called Pates. And I learned how to carry trays on one hand. These huge trays that have six orders of lobster on platters. So I could walk around the restaurant full tilt, holding this huge tray with only one hand and negotiating corners, and then putting down the tray stand and putting the tray on it and serving it and many wonderful experiences as a waiter. It was a wonderful summer. I’ll never forget the customer. We would put the salad dressing on their salads.

They could either get a Caesar salad or a tossed salad. And for the toss salads we offered dressings. And this one diner said, “I want you to put the dressing on my head.” Well, he’d had a few too many drinks. And I said, “I don’t think you want me to do that, sir.” He said, brought out a hundred dollar bill. And he said, “How about if I give you this?” I needed the money. So I said, “Okay, if you really want me to.” So I put a big dollop of Russian dressing on his head. The old table laugh. The restaurant laughed. It was all… So, the summer experience was very worth it. And then for the rest of the year, I went to London and I had gotten some references from my tutor in college, William Alford, who had friends over there.

And my friend, John Glossy, was doing a fellowship over there. And I met this wonderful poet named Judah Thurman, who now writes for the New Yorker and wrote the book that Out Of Africa was based on. But I wanted to try my hand at being a writer. And so I started writing and meeting with these people and I’d saved enough money to not have to get a job over there. And by the end of the summer, I took an interregnum trip down to Greece and took the Orient Express back. And at one point I got off at the wrong train station and here I was in communist Yugoslavia with no passport. A whole series of things happened. And I fell in love and asked a girl to marry me. And she said, no. And, in retrospect turned out she was gay, but hadn’t told me that detail.

But anyway, it was a wonderful year that taught me so much that I wouldn’t have learned had I just gone college straight through. And, yes, it’s true, when I came back, I was out of step. I didn’t graduate with my class. I graduated a year later, but I’m still in the class of 1972. So you don’t lose that. And to the extent it did put me out of sync, it did me a great favor, a much greater benefit than any cost associated with it.

And I decided that as far as being a writer goes, I ought to have a plan B. And so I thought… Because I realized how hard it was to write and make a living. So I went to medical school. That was my plan B. So now I am both a doctor and a writer and having the MD allowed me the freedom, in terms of not having to worry about earning an income, to spend time developing writing.

And now I’m just finishing my 21st book. But this is the kind of experience a young person can have by taking a year off. You can work, you can explore, you can test out a career or you could go to Inventive Labs, which I think would just be a bang up solution for people with ADD. So say more, would you please Rick, about what a person would find if they went to Inventive Labs?

Rick Fiery:

Well, for us, it’s really important, and I think passion is an overused word, but it’s really important for us to understand the person and their strengths and weaknesses and build upon that. And we ask people when they come to take some tests and engage with us, do some group brainstorming. And we kind of learn from working with them kind of where they can fit into a work environment, the kind of work environment that they thrive in, the kinds of things that their brain is really good at. And then we collectively kind of brainstorm a bunch of different career paths and career ideas and directions they could go in their life.

And then the second phase of that is the important part, which I think you just hit on, which is the launch phase, as we call it. And that’s where you really just get out there and try it. You can’t Google your way to a career. You can’t figure out what it’s going to be like to be a computer programmer, writing code eight to 10 hours a day in a cubicle, unless you actually try it and do it. And that sounds glamorous sometimes, but then when the reality hits and the shiny brochure of the career wears off that can be a real challenge for folks. So the second phase, we take them through a launch process where they get out there and they meet people. They job shadow. Last time we did it online, which worked pretty well. You find that some of the higher end folks that we wanted to connect with were more willing to engage in Zoom than they were in-person, but we’ve been successful in both and just meeting and talking to people in the potential field and seeing what it’s going to feel like to have that kind of a role and that kind of a position.

And then once they do that, then we figure out, okay, well, that’s great. Here’s what you look like today. What do you need to make yourself look like to have that kind of career and that kind of job? Does it mean that you need a college education? Yes or no? If it does, what college should you attend? What company do you want to work for? Where do they hire from? Where do you need to live? If you want to be a musician it’s probably Nashville or LA and probably not in Nebraska where one of a potential inventive that we were talking to was living in, that wanted to get into the music industry. So you figure out really what you need to look like. And then the key activities that fall out of that are the things that you need to do. And now you know, “Hey, I think I’m going to love this career. I’m all in. I want to work for that company. I want to be a performer at whatever it is they want to do. And now I know why I’m doing all the different things, all the different work activities that I need to do to make myself look like that.”

So it’s really basic stuff, but we kind of say that you can’t just go to college and get the degree and then wave your degree around and expect that people are just going to hire you. You’ve got to make yourself attractive for a particular job or a particular industry. And college is only one piece of that. There’s lots of other ways to do it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So I’ve hope we’ve enchanted the listeners enough if they have a child, a son or a daughter, or if they themselves are in school and thinking, “Do I want to take now and give a shot to a redirection, an experimental year trying out life and seeing how it feels?” This is an ideal time because distance learning has proven to be not as nearly as engaging and fulfilling as actually being on a college campus, attending live classes and going to live parties and going to real football games, whatever, and falling in love with real people, which is hard to do online and falling in love with real subjects, which is also hard to do online.

Rick Fiery:

Yeah. And it’s not just college. I mean, many folks are looking at careers differently now with the changes that have happened in the economy and things like that. And, instead of diving back into that same career, there’s an opportunity to kind of reset as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. Well, as always, you have provoked a wonderful conversation. I think your idea is so perfect. I mean, talk about flipping. I’ve been listening to people complain about how bad it is and now I’ll have a nice idea to offer them instead. Say, “Well, my friend, Rick Fiery, points out, this would be the ideal time to say, okay, I’ll come back to college in a year, but for now I’m going to create my own learning experience. And one of the things I’ll take a look at is Inventive Labs.” So Rick, thank you for joining us.

Rick Fiery:

Thanks, Ned. I think it’s been a great conversation. And now the point of it is just to get people to think a little bit differently. With great challenges, sometimes come great opportunities. And I think right now it’s a greatly challenging time on a lot of different levels. And with that comes great opportunities sometimes as well. You just have to look a little bit harder for them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. But they’re right there. The way we’ve painted it, it’s right there on the horizons, right there for the taking. Don’t become the subject of negative thinking, just find that opportunity and we’ve described it to you pretty well. I think as my daughter said to me many years ago, don’t hold back on life out of fear. She was only 13 when she said that. I couldn’t believe it, but it’s such a good line.

Well, listen, thanks a million. I know we’ll have you on again soon. If you want to learn more about Rick and his wonderful group, go to InventiveLabs.org. It’s a unique and positively transformational experience for a person of any age, but particularly for people in their late teens, 20s, early 30s. And that’s it for today.

Please reach out to us with your questions and show ideas. We love hearing from you. Love, love, love. Write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]. And again, please be sure to visit inventivelabs.org, to learn about Rick Fiery, Tom Bergeron, and the amazing piece of paradise that they’ve created up there. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the beautiful, talented, and wonderfully blessed Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the ever grumpy, funny, effervescent, Pat Keogh.

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

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How One Teacher Is Streamlining Digital Learning

How One Teacher Is Streamlining Digital Learning

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

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

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

Click here to listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

Managing Your ADHD in the Pandemic

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

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

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

Episode image by Daniel Xavier from Pexels.

Listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah, yeah.

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah Guertin:

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Right. How are your kids handling it?

Adam Man:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes.

Adam Man:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

Adam Man:

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

Adam Man:

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Right.

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

We do, absolutely.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. And what grades again?

Adam Man:

High school. So grades nine through 12.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Adam Man:

Sounds great. Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

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

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Your ADHD Questions Answered

Your ADHD Questions Answered

Not everyone sees their ADHD as a gift, as one listener wrote in a recent email. Dr. H responds and covers a lot of other ground answering your questions about ADHD and medication, depression, anxiety, struggles with executive function skills and more. Thank you to our listeners who sent in emails for this episode!

Watch A Stressful Simulation of ADHD by Gabrian Raphael, a Landmark College student, HERE.

Dr. H loves answering your questions so please keep ’em coming! 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.

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

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

Check out this episode!

Or if you prefer, a transcript of this episode is below:

Dr. Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number-one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD; safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Hallowell:

Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. We’ve got one of my favorite activities lined up for today’s episode, listener email. And I do love it so much. Please, keep feeding us emails. Email to us at [email protected]. We’ll read it on the air, and I will do my best to answer it. And by the way, I don’t read these in advance, so what you get is spontaneous, off the cuff, which is the best way for me. And we’re going to do it this time, instead of me reading the question, my wonderful producer, Sarah Guertin, will read the question. I will do my best to listen to it without daydreaming. And then I will try to focus down and give you my version of an answer. All right, the wonderful Sarah is joining me now. She will be reading your emails. Let’s dive in. What’s the first question?

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. We’ve got some great emails. The first one was a lengthy one, so I’m going to abbreviate it. But the listener wrote in part, “Dear Dr. Hallowell. I take medication for major depression and anxiety. 16 years ago at aged 43, I was also diagnosed with ADD and started on Adderall. I see a therapist every other week when I hear you and others say, what a gift our ADD is, I don’t understand. I get so angry, and then so sad, and depressed. ADD has been nothing but a curse for me. It is the reason my administrators forced me out of my teaching position four and a half years ago. The harder I tried to do my job, the higher my anxiety level rose. I couldn’t think straight. I made mistakes. I couldn’t remember the questions I had planned, find the media clip I had set on the computer, or meet deadlines. It’s February, 2020 and I am still unemployed. I’ve done a lot of research and I want to start my own small business as an artist and fine art photographer. I have so much information, but I don’t know how or where to start. This is where my ADD really hurts. The lack of executive function skills. I’m sorry, I just don’t see how something that puts so many roadblocks in the way, can be a gift. Sincerely, Catherine.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, Catherine you’re absolutely right. This condition can be a terrible curse. And I’ve had people say to me, “Gee, if ADD is such a gift, where do I return it?” And if you can’t manage the ADD properly, it is indeed a curse. And Russell Barkley has shown that, it’s one of the most disabling of all conditions there is. And his calculations, just actuarial tables show that it can knock around 15 years off a person’s life. Hardly a gift, if it’s getting you fired from jobs, and breaking up relationships, and landing you into debt if not bankruptcy, and leading you to drug abuse, and traffic accidents, and criminal behavior, and unemployment. The list goes on and on of every bad thing. Pretty much every bad thing is higher in the world of ADHD.

So for anyone who thinks that I call it a gift, I don’t. I qualify it. I say my job is to help you unwrap your gift, turn this condition into an asset. With no guidance or intervention that can be difficult, if not impossible to do. And Catherine, you’ve found that it’s impossible. Not for one of effort. And the thing is, you can’t overpower this condition. You can’t just effort your way through it. You do need special help. And I don’t know what kind of help you got, but obviously whatever it was didn’t work.

Dr. Hallowell:

The key elements of a plan that stands the best chance of working are number one, education. And of course, I recommend my books. Delivered From Distraction is the most recent, and it has all in it that you possibly need to know. Medication, which works about 80% of the time. 20% of the time it does not work. In my own case, it does not work. My medication is caffeine, which is a good second choice. But prescription stimulant medication can be a godsend if you give it a try, and work with a doctor who knows what he or she is doing. So you can get on the various combinations or single-dose medications that are out there. We have quite a few now. So it’s not just a matter of trying one and then giving up on it. And then working with a coach. I don’t know what you’re doing with your therapist, but I think if you can afford it, add to that a coach which can be more important than a therapist. Really someone to help you organize, plan, act as your supplemental executive function. That’s the kind of team you’re looking for. And then of course, my old standby is, marry the right person, and find the right job. There’s no help that’s going to take you to where you want to get to.

So yes, I completely understand for you. This is a curse. For you the problems with executive function have been all but unovercomeable. The only hope I would say is have you gotten the right help, and have you gotten full help? It’s not just medication. It’s not just one coach or one intervention. It’s always, particularly with more difficult cases, a comprehensive plan that includes exercise, sleep, nutrition, meditation, coaching, job consideration, all of those tools in the toolbox. And then some of the new ones. We’ve talked on this podcast several times about the Zing program, and these special exercises. Now they don’t work right away. But you’re 59 years old, and it’s certainly not too late to start exercises that stimulate the cerebellum.

And if you want to learn more about that, just go to distraction.zingperformance.com. That’s another possible intervention that could unwrap the gift, as I like to say. But I truly understand. You’re feeling resentful of anyone like me who says there’s something good about this condition. It can be just a terrible thing to wrestle with, just an absolute curse. But if you follow the suggestions I’ve just made, there’s a darn good chance that you could turn it into more of a blessing than a curse.

In any case, thank you so much for writing in and please follow up. Let us know what happens as you continue to try to turn this curse into something better than that. Thank you so much, Catherine.

Sarah Guertin:

Okay. The next one, this listener wrote in part, this was another lengthy email, which we love, but we can only read part of it. Anyway, she says, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. Just wanted to share with you this beautiful letter my daughter gave me yesterday after school. ‘To mommy. Thank you for helping me at school. It has been much easier now that I have the medication. It’s so much easier. Thank you so, so much. I had so much free time I could do this. I love you.’ With a little heart emoji. Ellie has just started grade-four this year. And wrote this on her third day on Vyvanse for ADHD. She’s finished every single piece of work since being on it and it’s neat and all right. She shot to like the top of her class. It’s completely insane. She was struggling more than I realized. I’m so glad I persisted with the whole process. The pride in her face is all I need to know I made the right decision. Thanks for all the great information and support. I have ADHD myself, so it’s rare that I feel like I’ve truly succeeded as a mom. This makes every bit of the work I’ve done to help myself and my own ADHD absolutely worth it. Kind regards, Nicole,” and she puts in parentheses currently feeling like supermom.

Dr. Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. That’s really, really wonderful And thank you so much Nicole for sending that in. So much of the publicity, what you read in the press, is about the downside of medication. And sure, that if you don’t use medication properly it can be dangerous, if not useless. But if you do use it properly then you can get the results like Ellie got and starting out fourth-grade going to the top of the class. Just imagine what a difference in how she feels about herself, about life, about school. And to get that at age, I assume she’s a nine or 10 years old, to get that so early that means you’re not getting year, after year, after year of frustration and failure. People talking about the side effects of taking medication, which you really ought to worry about are the side effects of not taking medication. Because medication properly used has no side effects other than appetite suppression without weight loss. That’s the one side effect I’ll allow. But all the other side effects can be controlled by changing the medication, or changing the dose. And if that’s not possible, you shouldn’t take the medication. You should not take the medication in the face of other side effects.

So 80% of the time that’s an achievable goal. You can get a medication regimen that produces target symptom improvement with no side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss. And gosh, it’s a shame to see people turn away from it because of the misinformation they’ve received. If you really know the medical facts, there’s no reason not to give medication a try unless it’s against your religion. It really couldn’t be more simple. If it helps and doesn’t cause side effects, you continue it. If it doesn’t help or it does cause side effects, you discontinue it. That’s pretty simple, straightforward, applied common sense. And the reason that it really matters is, it’s by far the easiest intervention we’ve got. It makes all the other interventions, all the non-medication interventions that much simpler to implement.

And as this mom says, very beautifully and succinctly in her note, what a difference it makes for her daughter, for herself, for the family, for the school, the whole world smiles when you get a good result like this. Well, thank you Nicole. And please, you are a super mom in deed. Please, stay in touch and give us follow-up.

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, since we’re all kind of stressed out these days with the pandemic and the uncertainty that comes with it, I’d like to tell you about a new product that I’ve started taking myself. It’s manufactured by the people who make OmegaBrite, Omega-3 supplements. They’ve been around for some 20 years. And I take that product myself as does my wife. Well, their new product, OmegaBrite CBD is really terrific. I’ve been taking it for about a month now. And it does create a feeling of calm without being sedating. It’s a really good natural anxiety reducer. I recommend it to you. Try it and see for yourself. Go to Omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD.

Okay. Do we have another question, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

Yes, we do. This one says, “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I enjoy your podcast and books, finding them very affirming and hopeful. However, I would like to hear you address the topic of children and adults of color. While ADHD is a medical condition, it has huge social and cultural implications. I’m wondering if there’s any research on specific challenges people of color face in terms of stigmatism, educational opportunities, and access to services. I’ve heard and read quite a bit about ADD/ADHD, but I’ve never heard this aspect of social justice addressed or specifically researched. Is there anyone working in this field? Thank you. Elizabeth.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Elizabeth, to tell you the truth, I don’t know. I imagine there is. I can tell you who would know for sure, Russell Barkley. And if you just Google Dr. Russell Barkley. That he’s very accessible, and would answer your question for sure. My hunch is that the same problems apply to people of color who have ADHD that apply to people of color in general; which is racism, stigmatism, things that go with the mistreatment and misunderstanding of people of color, for that matter, people of different religion, or ethnic background. ADHD itself is often a discriminating factor. I’ve spent most of my career championing ADHD as a possible asset and trying to fight the stigma that surrounds itself. So the very condition ADHD can be a source of stigma and a reduced opportunity.

So when you throw in another possible reason to be treated unfairly, with bigotry and ignorance such as being of color or of foreign origin, or of a different religion, or for that matter, a different stature, body habitus, physiognomy. Any of the ways people judge other people in a negative and unfair prejudging way. It’s hurtful, and it’s wrong, and it’s in many instances illegal. So you do even have the law on your side. But you shouldn’t have to get an attorney to get the right medical treatment. That would be a shame. I wish I could give you hard, fast statistics. But I’m pretty sure what I just speculated on is the case. And it’s up to all of us to fight stigma in all its forms, prejudice, bigotry, ignorance in all its many different forms. And certainly ADHD itself can be a reason for stigma and prejudice, just as being of a different color, a different religion, a different ethnicity, a different look, all the reasons people are excluded so unjustly and unfairly because they are often the most talented people among us. Thank you for your note, Elizabeth. Do we have another question, Sarah?

Sarah Guertin:

We do. We have a few more here. This one says, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell. I am a mom of three. And my middle child an eight-year-old boy has ADHD. This is new information for our family. And I would love to hear you speak about how to break the news to siblings about their brother having ADHD, and how that has been affecting their relationships. For years, the eldest and youngest have been forming an alliance and have excluded my middle one experiencing him as annoying, sensitive, and quote ‘disruptive.’ I am hopeful that their relationships will heal as we all come to understand ADHD better and how it has been affecting our family life. I loved your book Driven To Distraction, which saved my life as a frustrated and confused mom. Now my goal is to understand not correct. Thank you so much. Carol.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Oh, what a lovely email. And now my goal is to understand not correct. There’s a famous saying to understand all is to forgive all. And if only we could build an understanding, we could get rid of the ignorance and stigma that persists. As to how to explain it in the family. I would just sit down with everyone and block out enough time –I.E –.more than 10 minutes to explain what this is. And the analogy I use really does work well, especially for boys. Having ADHD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain. You have a very powerful brain. But you have bicycle brakes. So you have trouble controlling the power of your brain. So you can bump into things, overturn things, misspeak, forget. But at the same time when you’re on track, you can win races. So my job as someone who helps people with this condition is to strengthen brakes.

And you can explain to your son’s sibs that they can help. And they may not want to help. They may think it’s a lame excuse. But you can tell them it is not an excuse any more than nearsightedness is an excuse for not being able to see. One of the brothers wouldn’t say, ‘Well, squint harder instead of getting eyeglasses.” Well the same with ADHD. Keep the simple, make sure they understand it’s not an excuse, but that it is a powerful explanation. Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes, race car brain with bicycle brakes. Anyone can understand that. And it happens to be very accurate. And then what you want to do is build up that understanding. So it takes repetition. Talk about it at family dinner, talk about it when your eight-year-old flubs up. Instead of saying you’re a jerk, say “No, his brakes failed him. That’s part of how he’s put together.” And we all need understanding in terms of how we’re put together. Thank you, Carol. Thank you so much for your question because it affects an awful lot of families.

Dr. Hallowell:

On the phone with me now is Gabrian Raphael, a student at Landmark College, our wonderful sponsor in beautiful Putney, Vermont. Hello Gabriel, and thank you so much for joining us.

Gabrian Raphael:

Hi Ned. How are you?

Dr. Hallowell:

I’m doing well, thanks. I want to hear you tell our listeners about your experience at Landmark.

Gabrian Raphael:

Well, before I came to Landmark, I really wished I was more normal. I didn’t have a good image of my learning difference. Coming to Landmark has done a lot to make me feel more normal, to feel intimate in detail, and on what my disability is, and how it works and how I work. And just being in this atmosphere has really helped me form a new sense of identity and just being comfortable with who I am.

Dr. Hallowell:

Wonderful. So they’ve showed you that you have talents and strengths.

Gabrian Raphael:

Yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. And they’ve helped you tap into them.

Gabrian Raphael:

Yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:

I know firsthand how talented you are. Because I just watched a video you made about what it’s like to have ADD And it’s brilliant. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s at the same time entertaining and chilling because you show how completely misunderstood people with ADD can be. As you’re trying to pay attention, you’re just being bombarded with stimuli and you show this in the video beautifully.

Gabrian Raphael:

Thank you.

Dr. Hallowell:

If people want to watch it, where do they go to see it?

Gabrian Raphael:

YouTube. Type in A Stressful Simulation of ADHD. My channel is my name, Gabrian Raphael.

Dr. Hallowell:

Great. Okay, so on YouTube, Gabrian Raphael. And then the title of the video is-

Gabrian Raphael:

A Stressful Simulation of ADHD.

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, it’s brilliant. And so Landmark welcomed you and showed you far from being impaired and damaged goods, that you are quite the opposite. You have super talents, and they helped you unlock them. Correct?

Gabrian Raphael:

Well, I don’t know about super talent, but yeah.

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, you see. Now you’re like most people with ADD. You’re chuckling because you’re modest, and you’re not used to hearing terms like that. But I just watched that video, and I can tell you have super talents. You just plain do. And what you got to do is learn how to metabolize that, and not think that I’m speaking Chinese. Because you do. But the talents will emerge all the more easily the less you fight it and say, “I don’t have any talent.”

Gabrian Raphael:

Okay, I’ll try that.

Dr. Hallowell:

Call me every morning and I’ll say, “Gabrian, you’re a really talented guy with super talent.” If we do that for about 45 days, you’ll start believing it.

Gabrian Raphael:

Okay.

Dr. Hallowell:

I honestly mean it. But Landmark really has opened up a whole new world for you. Is that fair to say?

Gabrian Raphael:

Yeah, it really has.

Dr. Hallowell:

And you feel more confident?

Gabrian Raphael:

Definitely. Helped me form routines and habits that just helped me grow. Like they have free exercises classes, and I go to those every week. And that’s helped me go beyond and just exercise on my own. Like just I’ve formed the habits and routines that helped me.

Dr. Hallowell:

And that’s so important for us to have ADD. I have it as well myself as you know. We really need structure in order to unwrap our gifts. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for joining me for this brief interlude. As I said, you’re a super talented guy. And Landmark College is showing you how. You listeners, if you’d like to learn more about the college of choice for students who learn differently, go to Lcdistraction.org. Now let’s get back to today’s topic.

Okay. Sarah, do we have another?

Sarah Guertin:

Yes. “Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I currently work as a learning specialist in an elementary school. I’ve recently been hearing about DNA testing to help determine the correct ADHD medication for an individual. What is your opinion on this process? Will it help eliminate the trial and error I often see my parents and students suffer through? Thank you for your response. I’ve been reading your books and following your work for over 20 years. I love listening to your podcast, and recommend it regularly to friends and parents. Warmest regards. Paula.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Thank you so much Paula. This question comes up all the time. And I have consulted, and I do regularly consult with the best experts I know, the people over at Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Russ Barkley, other leading authorities. And the word I get consistently is these tests are not there yet. They’re very seductive. Wouldn’t it be nice to just pay a fee? And it’s usually between 500 and $1000 to find out what medication will work best. Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work. You pay the money and you will get some results. So it’s not going to do any harm. But those results are usually no better than you’d get by using trial and error, which is free.

Now you don’t have to suffer through trial and error. Because these meds are in and out of your system pretty quickly. So you can try four or five medications over the span of a couple of weeks, if you’re working with a doctor who can turn things around quickly. So you don’t want to make the trial and error a period of suffering. You get lucky sometimes and the first medicine you try works. And in my experience, that happens about 50% of the time. But that leaves the other 50% of the time when you go to a trial and error. And remember there are those cases where no medication is going to work.

It is true that medication is the quickest, producing the most immediate results. But over the long haul you certainly want to have a robust non-medication plan that does include education, exercise, sometimes specialized exercise, nutrition, sleep, coaching, the toolbox, the Zing program that I’ve mentioned before. All of those are possible adjuncts. So if meds don’t work, don’t despair. If you want to spend the money on this test, and if it increases your level of confidence, then go ahead. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying the people I know and trust in terms of their expert knowledge on these tests say it’s not worth it. The testing is not there yet. It may come, but we’re not there yet.

On the other hand, if you want to try it, it’s not going to do any harm. And it will give you certain medications to try first. And you may be guided by that and discover right off the bat the best medication. I’m certainly not saying don’t do it. But in terms of a cost-benefit analysis, the cost does seem to exceed the benefit. You can get the same benefit, namely finding the right medication, by trial and error.

Okay. Paula, thank you for writing in with your question. And Sarah, do we have another one?

Sarah Guertin:

Yes. This one comes all the way from Sweden.

Dr. Hallowell:

Wow.

Sarah Guertin:

Yeah, right? This says, “Dear Dr. Hallowell, I’m currently undergoing an ADHD evaluation which is, at nearly 45 years of age, a complete and utter blessing to begin to understand why my life has been the way it has imbues me with a great sense of freedom, hope, and a dawning sense of self acceptance, and ability to care for myself. The emphasis on dawning here, LOL. So I’m wondering about meditation. Is it even possible to move towards a mindful state with an ADHD brain? I find it extremely hard to be still physically with myself, you see. Not to mention my beloved racing creative brain, which is also prone to judging, focusing on achieving for others, and finding it very hard to accept all sorts of things. So I’m wondering if you know of any meditations which are specifically for people with ADHD? Any meditations in motion? I’m at my calmest when I’m moving. Or is the answer just sit with it as it were. Many thanks. YJ from Sweden.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, YJ? Thank you for writing in all the way from Sweden. Please tell your friends about this podcast, and tell them I’d welcome other questions from Sweden. Meditation. Yes. It’s wonderful if you’ll do it. Now, I did something called Kundalini yoga some years ago, and I found it very helpful. Kundalini yoga is what you just said, you’re in motion. You’re walking, you’re punching the air. It’s movement. And yet it is a kind of meditation. So go and read about Kundalini yoga. That is a kind of meditation that does involve moving, and moving very vigorously in fact. But at the same time, don’t give up on the sit-still-and-don’t-focus-on-anything kind of meditation. The sit still and empty your mind and imagine your mind is a river flowing by and you just watch it without interrupting and evaluating it. You know it’s not our normal state. But that doesn’t mean it’s not something we can try to do. And it is the trying to do it that confers the benefit.

You may not achieve the state of a experienced meditator or a Buddhist, but you can experience the benefit of stopping, slowing down, suspending judgment, and letting your mind flow past you as a river would flow, and perhaps focusing on the leaf, and just watching that leaf drift by and not allowing the thoughts that pester us to take you away from that leaf. And if your mind does leave the leaf, come back to it. Don’t beat yourself up for being bad at meditating. It’s a wonderful tool to use. There are apps now for meditating. You can sample those and see which work best for you. And then of course, keep in mind the possibility of Kundalini yoga. I pray in the shower. I happen to be an Episcopalian, and I have a strong sort of affinity for prayer. And so that’s my form of meditation now. I don’t do the Kundalini yoga anymore. Thank you very much for reaching out to us all the way from Sweden.

Dr. Hallowell:

And I think we have another, is that correct?

Sarah Guertin:

We do. One more. It says, “I am an adult with ADHD. I feel like I can never get on top of keeping my home clean and orderly. Do you have any suggestions? What works for you? Tina.”

Dr. Hallowell:

Well, Tina. This is a common issue. And my reply is to try to change your expectations. What you want to do is not aspire to be Martha Stewart. You don’t want to aspire to have House Beautiful. You don’t want to aspire to perfection. What you want to do is get well enough organized that disorganization does not prevent you from reaching your goals. That’s it. And if you can’t do that, then hire a coach. There are any number of coaches who will come into your home and just give you some tips on how to straighten things out and keep them that way. Again, the goal is not to be a perfect office, not to be completely spiffy and spit polished and that kind of thing. But rather to be well enough organized so the disorganization does not keep you from reaching your goals. That, for almost all of us, is an achievable end. Thank you, Tina. Thank you for writing in. That’s a really eternal question in the world of ADHD. And I think the answer I gave you is the best one that I’ve come up with over my many years.

Well, that’s all the time we have for today. We went through quite a few questions. I love going through questions. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sending those questions in. And please, if you have a question or comment for me or for anyone else on our team, record a voice memo on your phone, or write an email and send it to us at [email protected]. We will try to answer as many as we can. And as you saw today, it’s a wonderful way of staying in touch with the show and us staying in touch with you.

Well, that’s it. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so, so much for listening. Distraction is a production of the marvelous Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the oh so marvelous and fantastic Sarah Guertin, and our recording engineer and editor is the princely and brilliant Pat Keogh.

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

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Tips for Learning from Home with How to ADHD and Landmark College

Tips for Learning from Home with How to ADHD and Landmark College

Jessica McCabe shares a ton of practical tips for making a successful transition to learning or working from home in this special episode brought to you by Landmark College in Putney, VT, the college of choice for students who learn differently. Jessica’s acronym, STACC, will give you the framework you need to get your work done at home, whether it’s for school or a job!

Check out all of Jessica’s amazing ADHD content on her website at HowtoADHD.

How are you making the transition? Share your thoughts with us by writing an email, or recording a message using the voice memo app on your phone and sending 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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Flipping ADHD On Its Head

Flipping ADHD On Its Head

Like our host, Dr. Jim Poole also thinks ADHD can be a gift. The two share a candid conversation about Dr. Poole’s holistic, integrated and empowering approach to identifying and promoting the strengths, and managing the challenges of those with ADHD.

His new book, Flipping ADHD On Its Head: How To Turn Your Child’s Disability Into Their Greatest Strength can be found HERE.

Link to Dr. Poole’s FastBraiin

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.

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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How to Help Kids Learn to Make Friends

How to Help Kids Learn to Make Friends

Shyness, lack of confidence, anxiety, and alienating behaviors can make it difficult for some children to make friends. Coach, speaker and author, Caroline Maguire, joins Ned to share some of the practical ways parents and caregivers can help improve a child’s social skills. Caroline offers specific activities that can be done at a mall or family party that will give children of all ages the skills they need to make progress in their social life. Her new book, Why Will No One Play with Me? The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive is highly recommended by Dr. Hallowell.

SIGN UP to receive Caroline’s checklist to determine if your child needs social skills help click HERE.

Do you have a question for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email, or record a voice memo 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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Start the New Year with a Growth Mindset

Start the New Year with a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is one’s belief in his or her own ability to learn and develop skills. And it’s a great place to begin a new year and decade!

Dr. Hallowell considers it a happy accident that he happened to attend a lecture given by third-grade teachers Darrah Parsons and Becky Kline. The talk focused on their experiences teaching young girls about Carol Dweck’s groundbreaking findings regarding ability and achievement in life. In this episode, Darrah and Becky join Dr. Hallowell to talk about the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, and why productive struggle is a really good thing. If you want to do more and be more in life, this episode is here to show you that you can! It’s never too late to change your mindset, achieve your goals and find success.

If you’d like to reach out to Darrah, email her at [email protected], and if you’d like to reach out to Becky, email [email protected].

Click HERE to go to Carol Dweck’s website.

Do you know someone who learns differently? Our sponsor, Landmark College, might be the right place for them. Learn more HERE.

This episode was originally released in December 2017.

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Structuring Your Life for Success with How to ADHD and Landmark College

Structuring Your Life for Success with How to ADHD and Landmark College

Jessica McCabe from How to ADHD shares her insights on why you need to “set up camp” in order to be successful. In this special episode sponsored by Landmark College, Jessica opens up about the missteps she took in college, and what kept her going when she was ready to give up on her YouTube channel.

Please reach out to us with your questions and show ideas: [email protected]. Our producer is Sarah Guertin @sarahguertin, and our editor/recording engineer is Pat Keogh.

To learn more about how our sponsor, Landmark College, helps students with ADHD succeed click HERE.

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Mini 33: Some Students Need Specialized Schools

A traditional classroom isn’t always the best place for a child with learning differences. That’s why schools like Eagle Hill School in Greenwich, CT are so important. In this mini, Ned explores how specialized schools work to address each child’s specific educational needs and help them become successful learners.

www.eaglehillschool.org

This episode’s sponsor is OmegaBrite, the premier natural advanced omega-3 formula for mind, heart, and joint health.

Explore OmegaBrite products and benefits at www.omegabrite.com

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