In this “Best Of” interview Dr. Edward Hallowell, co-author of ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction--From Childhood Through Adulthood, explains the growing understanding of brains with “variable attention.”
Dr. Edward M. Hallowell is one of the world's leading experts on ADHD. Dr. Hallowell's latest book, co-authored with Dr. John J. Ratey, is ADHD 2.0: New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction--From Childhood Through Adulthood.
In this interview, first recorded in January 2021, Dr. Hallowell gives us concrete strategies– and tons of optimism– for those lucky enough to possess (or parent) what Dr. Hallowell calls the "Variable Attention Stimulus Trait." The full transcript of the episode is available below.
Whether you have a child with ADHD, suspect you might, or even have had some lingering thoughts about your own ability to focus, Dr. Hallowell's cutting-edge research and surprising new strategies will fascinate you.
Grab your copy of ADHD 2.0 from our Bookshop store: https://bookshop.org/a/12099/9780399178733
and connect with Dr. Hallowell: https://drhallowell.com.
Fresh Take: Dr. Edward Hallowell
Amy: Today we're talking to Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of the new book ADHD, 2.0 New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving, with Distraction- from Childhood Through Adulthood.
Dr. Hallowell is a board certified child and adult psychiatrist, a world renowned keynote speaker and the best-selling author, or co-author, of more than 20 books. Including, Driven to Distraction with John J. Ratey, which sparked a revolution in our understanding of ADHD.
Dr. Hallowell was a Harvard medical school faculty member for 21 years. He's a columnist for "ADDitude magazine", he's also the host of the podcast "Distraction." He's the founder of the Hallowell centers in Boston, New York city, San Francisco, and Seattle. And he lives in Boston with his wife and their three children. He truly wrote the book on ADHD. I'm so excited to be talking to you today. Welcome Ed.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Well, thank you, Amy it's really nice to be with you and I love the title of your podcast. It really says it all.
Amy: There's always something new.
Margaret: Well Amy and I are both people who have ADD that has affected our lives and our parenting and ADD can sometimes be a real, what fresh hell kind of a situation.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Just as being a parent and you put the two together.
Margaret: Exactly. Amy has an expression, "There's always a thing. There's always a thing and a thing." And ADD is one of those. There's always a thing.
Amy: So this book is all about sort of what's new in the field.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Yeah, I guess the first thing that's new in the book is we give the condition a new name. Uh, the name, when I first learned about it in 1981, it was called attention deficit disorder. And then in the nineties, they threw in the H. So then it became attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder. And you know, those are all out of the medical model, which is rooted in pathology.
You know, you go to the doctor not because you feel well, but because you feel bad. So it only stands to reason that medically based conditions would have a pathology, slanted name. So, and that's fine, but when it comes to this condition, it's totally inaccurate. And it also conveys a kind of stigma, kind of shame, kind of feeling less than.
And those are very damaging. So it's more than just cosmetic. It's more than just semantics. It really gets right to the heart. I mean you get this diagnosis, you're told you or your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and you feel like you've just been punched in the gut. You don't really know what it means, but you know it's bad.
Amy: Right. Sounds bad. So it must be.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Exactly. And so the fact is the description is inaccurate. We, I have the condition myself so I say we, don't have a deficit of attention. Quite the opposite. We have an abundance of attention. Our problem is to control it. And then, uh, the disorder, I don't see it as a disorder.
You know, I went to Harvard college and medical school. I've written 21 books. I've been married 31 years. I've got three wonderful kids. I don't have a disorder, I have a brain difference. And so I see it as a trait. If you manage it properly, it becomes an asset. If you don't, yes, it can ruin your life. So it has the potential to be a disorder, but it also has the potential to be a super power.
And so we've renamed it. Variable, attention, stimulus, trait. Vast. V-A-S-T. And I think it's a whole lot better to be told that your son or daughter, or you, have VAST. Because it does imply the vast nature of this condition, which is all encompassing. And does not convey a sense of shame and pathology, the way ADHD does.
So attention and stimulus are sort of the two key elements. You know, our attention is always moving and so we have variable attention. And then stimulus. We're always looking for high stimulation. We're always looking for something to pump up the volume. So variable, attention, stimulus, trait. VAST. And we offer that as a way for parents to convey to their kids they have a vast mind, they have vast potential, they have vast opportunity. All of which is true. And then the challenge to turn this trait into an asset is to learn to control the attention and stimulation. So the first item in the book that we offer that's new is, is the very word itself. The very term itself, the acronym VAST.
Margaret: I think it also brings us past what I think Amy and I probably grew up with learning this term ADD, and it's become this kind of major catch all for every range of behavior. And then a lot of the discussions around it are kind of like, Oh, that's an ADD moment. Or everyone's medicating what used to be called childhood.
And those kinds of discussions that I think are not useful for anybody because they demonize kids who maybe need help functioning, and then they kind of lump everybody together. And like this used to be childhood now everyone's just medicating into zombies. Not true.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Right. Not true at all. And also, as you say, when it's used casually, it's never complimentary. When you say "he's so ADD", you don't mean he's so creative, original, interesting and dynamic.
You mean he's a pain in the butt, you know? And so, you know, we want to take it out of that stigmatized realm where it does not deserve to be. I mean, the fact of the matter is most of the people who are the game changers in this world have VAST or ADHD.
Amy: Your books have been so helpful to me because I have a child with ADHD, and ADHD has always irked me in a different way that term, because my child is inattentive, not hyperactive at all.
And so it took us a while, a little bit longer to figure it out I think. Cause we were looking for something that wasn't there. His leaky attention at times wasn't bothering anybody else. You know, he wasn't standing on the desk. And so it took us a while to figure it out. But how your books have helped me- because of course it can be frustrating to parent a forgetful child. Your books always helped me reframe. In this newest book you give the example of when a parent might say to a child with ADHD, we're leaving in 10 minutes. And so you need to get your shoes, your this, your that, right? Your water bottle. All the ADHD brain will hear is "you have 10 minutes, you don't have to do anything." Right? You're free for 10 minutes. And I have, I think in the past, been guilty of, you know, like, why do you not listen to me? You are listening. They're listening. They're just not hearing what I'm intending at all.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Right. That's because in our world, in the world of ADHD, time is fundamentally different.
We just don't experience time the way others do. In our world there are basically only two times. There's now. And not now. So when you say we're leaving in 10 minutes, not now. And that's what registers, you know, until you say we're leaving! And then, Oh now. So we have this binary conception of time. And as a result, as we get older, we tend toward procrastination because it's not now.
Until not now is almost now. And then in a panic, we get it done. And what happens in a panic is you put out a lot of adrenaline. Well, adrenaline is chemically very similar to the medications we use to treat ADD. So essentially what you're doing without knowing it is you're self-medicating with panic with adrenaline.
Amy: We had Ned Johnson on a couple of weeks ago, who wrote the book, The Self-Driven Child.
When we talked to him, he talked about the default mode network, which is basically like things that pop into your head when you're taking a shower or taking a walk and like, how do we get our kids to do that?
He's like, well, open-ended play, toys that don't beep or bop or tell them what to do, let them get deeply engrossed in something. And in this book you talk about how there's the default mode networks, sort of the daydreaming place, right? Am I oversimplifying it? Or is that-
Dr. Edward Hallowell: No, no, no, but it goes a step further. Let me explain it to you. Cause this is one of the very powerful new concepts we lay out in the book, and it's also extremely helpful. And it would take me a couple of minutes to explain it cause it's not the sound bite explanation.
Margaret: We have a couple minutes.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Okay, good. So when you're doing something, anything. Frying an egg, digging a hole, doing a crossword, talking to someone on a podcast. When you're doing something, your brain lights up in four different areas that you can see it on brain scan.
And those four different areas in aggregate are called the task positive network. So your imagination is engaged in a positive way. You're doing something constructive. When the interview is over, when the egg is fried, when the hole is dug, when the crossword is done. The TPN, the task positive network, shuts down. You finished what you were doing? Well, the old thinking was that then the brain takes a little rest like most of us do when we've done something. Not so, not the brain. In fact, the brain is more active after the TPN shuts down than it was before. It consumes more glucose and oxygen than before.
And what lights up is called the default mode network, the D M N. And it's another four different regions of the brain, but a different four regions. And the default mode network, which is what's going on when you're not consciously and focusedly and intentionally doing something, tends in people with ADHD, because it is also the seat of the imagination. To generate a ton of negative images, feelings, thoughts.
This is why so many of us with ADHD brood, ruminate, fixate on the worst. The DMN is pumping out a stream of negativity. Of "you're terrible, life is terribl e , I'm stupid, I'm ugly. You know I haven't lived up to my potential. I'm such a loser, you know, how can I ever function at all? Nothing's good. I've never lived up. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." And this default mode network is absolutely gripping. And we just sit there, riveted in this trance if you will, of negativity and why?
Because remember I said, we're always looking for stimulation. Well, contentment is too bland. You don't say she was riveted in contentment. But you do say she was riveted in self hatred and fear and loathing in gloom and doom. And so the trick is don't feed the demon, the DMN, I call it the demon.
Don't feed the demon. And what do you feed it with, your attention. That's its oxygen supply. What you gotta do is shut off your attention, shut off your attention to the demon. So instead of focusing on what a loser you are, fry another egg. You know dig another hole, start up a conversation with someone, do 25 jumping jacks. A quick burst of energy will snap you out of it.
But don't argue with it. Don't mistake it for reality. Don't say, as so many of us with ADHD do, yes my life really does suck. Yes this won't work out. Yes you know, my new book comes out today. Yeah my book's not going to sell anything. Nobody's going to like it. It's a terrible book. And yet, that's typically what the DMN would have me thinking.
Margaret: And what is our role in terms of being parents to a child in that space. Redirect. No, you are great.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Redirect. Don't argue. Don't say no, you are a great kid. I mean, you can say that. But meanwhile, redirect. Get him building Legos, get him or her, get her playing with her doll. Get her talking to grandma on the phone, get her doing something else. You can give the reassurance. And you should, because you don't want to say, yeah, you're a loser.
Margaret: So that you're coming out again saying you're a loser to your kids just so we're clear.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Right. But don't argue with it. Don't because you can't win. You got to get her doing something else. Get her involved in some other kind of project. And you yourself don't despair, oh my child has a terrible self-esteem. It's not that it's the DMN. It does this with all of us.
Margaret: It's interesting because where I see it a lot in mine is bedtime. The last 20 minutes before bed tend to be in that space. Everything's terrible. And everything's awful. And it is, it's like the letting down of all the activities.
And I've been noticing lately, like, Oh, there's this 20 minutes before bed every day that we just have to travel in through the it's a despair.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Just don't do it. Read a story instead, give her a back rub instead. Or him. I dunno if you're a boy or a girl. But a back rub, a story, music. Tell stories from your own childhood. That's a wonderful time to do that. You know what my mom used to do when I was falling asleep, just get his or her mind off of the negatives. You don't want them to go to sleep, full of fear, loathing and dread.
Amy: Let's take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk about some other strategies and lifestyle hacks that we can use to help our kids with ADHD.
Ed in the book you talk about how the goal for someone with ADHD is to find what you call the "right difficult." Can you talk about that and maybe how we can help our kids find that for themselves?
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Yes. This is another new strategy in the book. Over the years I've come to realize, first of all in myself, and then in all my clients and patients.
We need a creative outlet. We just don't do well. The reason I write so many books, it's not that I'm ambitious to write books. If I don't have a book going, I get depressed. I just don't feel right. So I always have a book going. And even when I'm not working on it, on the laptop, I'm working on it in my unconscious.
So I always have a book going. And no matter what your creative project is, you're always working on it. Like you ladies are always working on the podcast. You know, even if you're not doing the podcast you're always dreaming up new topics, new guests, whatever. You know your "right difficult" might be a garden. Might be perfecting a recipe.
It might be writing a book. It might be a painting. Whatever but you need a creative outlet. And the reason I say the "right difficult" is it needs to be difficult. Otherwise it's boring. You know, we ADD-ers, we like difficult odd as that may sound. Otherwise we get bored. So it needs to be challenging.
It needs to be difficult. And number two, it needs to matter to you. So if it doesn't matter to you, doesn't matter, you know you're not going to do it. Cause that's just the way we are. So the combination of it matters to you-like this podcast matters to you both. And it's challenging. It's difficult. And producing one of these things I know from experience is not easy.
So that's a great example of a "right difficult." We need that creative outlet. We have this need to create, to build, to pump up the volume of ordinary life. We need to improve ordinary life, make it more interesting, more stimulating, more challenging. In fact, and I often say we're like cows, we need to be milked.
To every day, you know, and delivering our creative output is like the cow getting milked. And it's, I've just discovered it. And it's not stressed nearly enough in the life of raising kids with ADD and working with adults who have it.
Margaret: And let's talk about that for ages and stages for our folks who maybe have a four year old who's struggling and an 18 year old who's struggling. Like they're not writing books, doing podcasts. Like this is getting them out on a bike during the day. I mean, what is this, what do you see in your clients? What does it look like?
Dr. Edward Hallowell: And four year olds are creative wellsprings. I mean, so give them Legos and see what they do with it. Give them mud and see what they do with it. Give them fingerpaints, give them a paper and pencil, see what they do with it. Give them a bunch of blocks or cans or junk and see what they do with it. I mean, they are just- little creative brains are so ready to synthesize and build and grow.
Margaret: So physical, tactile though. So video games don't count as difficult.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. They don't shut it down, but they don't develop it at all. So, you know, a little bit, my feeling about electronics is it's like ice cream. Some is good. In fact, you should have some. But too much is way bad. And it gives you cavities of the brain.
So you want to give them and let them discover. I mean, that life is discovering what's your creative outlet? You know, I discovered fairly early on that writing was mine. For some reason I was drawn to writing. Someone else will discover, maybe when she's a little girl, it's dress designing as she dresses up her dolls. Or whatever it might happen to be, you know, childhood ought to be a time of creative discovery and that's the beauty of play.
What would "play" by my definition is just any activity that engages your imagination. So you want to always have your kids imaginatively engaged. And that's where they discover, you know, what do they want to come back to over and over again?
Amy: And it can be their superpower. Right? I have a nephew who loves to make comic books and create characters. And I mean, he does it, like,I always think of the line in Hamilton. "He writes like he's running out of time." That's how my nephew creates these comic book characters. And you talk in your book about Dave Pilkey who wrote the captain underpants series, that he also did this as a child and spent most of his childhood sitting in the hallway for disrupting class.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Right. Exactly. You know, Dave Pilkey is one of my heroes. He was not only sitting in the hallway, but he was spanked frequently with a board because he could make people laugh. And this went on every year during his schooling. He went to a Lutheran school in Ohio and it was brutal.
And he came out of it, instead of feeling bitter and cynical, he came out of it with this incredibly generous heart and desire to make children happy and laugh. And his series of books have sold over 80 million copies. You know, he's an amazingly-
Margaret: Wow. I think we've bought like a million of them at my house. So can you talk a little bit about the role of positive connection? I thought this was really, it's something you kind of know, but it was illuminating.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Yeah. And this is another new, I mean, it's old wine in new bottles really. But, you know, because the power of connection has been a major theme starting with Jesus, you know, who told us to love one another.
And that really is the most important thing you can do in life to produce good results is positive connection. The power of positive connection and boy, have we ever learned that lesson during COVID when we've had to keep our distance and disconnect in so many ways. But you know, there is one key to a happy long and successful life.
It is to lead a life of positive connection. And that's what parents should do instead of trying to angle to get your kid into an Ivy league school, which only a few people can do. Instead do what everyone can do, which is to have a childhood of positive connection. Connection to relatives, to friends, connection to a dog.
I dedicated this book to dogs by the way. You know dogs are so wonderful, or a cat. But have a pet if you possibly can. Connection to nature, connection to the world of information and ideas, connection to a creative outlet. Positive connection is the driving force for pretty much everything good in life.
And the flip side of that, unfortunately, is that disconnection, alienation is the driving force of pretty much everything that's bad. Depression, underachievement, violent behavior, drug abuse, suicide, you know, it's all about disconnection. Now the beauty of that fact is connection, unlike IQ or other elements that are kind of fixed, connection you can operate upon and change.
Everyone can have access to a connected life. And particularly if the parents are intentional about it. And again, another beauty of connection is it's free, largely, fun and good for you. Really good for you. Far more good for you than most people realize, so much so that I call it a vitamin. I call connection the other vitamin C, vitamin connect.
Margaret: And I think, do you think it's fair to say that sometimes when you have a kid who is exhibiting what are considered difficult behaviors at school, it's harder for kids to connect. They lack. There are certain kids for whom connection is very easy. It's easy for adults to connect with a kid who runs up to you at the door and is like, come let me show you my doll. Can I sit in your lap? But there are certain kids who are naturally connecting, and I find that there is an element in which this historical ADD, ADHD, now VAST, it can be disconnecting for kids. And then it becomes kind of circular in the wrong direction, wrong direction spiral.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Very much so. Kids with ADHD, as much as they want to connect, often do it in a clumsy or really obnoxious way.
They're intrusive, they interrupt, they're rough, they put their hands on you, you know, they spit without meaning to. I mean, you know, they can be really hard to connect with which hurts their feelings, cause all they're wanting to do is, you know, be like a frisky puppy. You know? But so their life gets started where they're not being invited to birthday parties or they're being excluded, where they're being teased and shunned and you know, that's the beginning of a long and difficult process. But once again, with the proper intervention, that can all be reversed. That's the beauty of this condition is that with the right help, what began as a liability can turn into a superpower.
Margaret: And you talk about the importance of physical touch. And that's something as my kids get older, you know, my little one will, because she's constantly on my lap, she's crawling up. But even with my bigger guys, I go out of my way to try to, they're not that into like "hey mom, come give me a hug." But trying to find that physical connection, even when they're kind of prickly cactuses, cacti.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Absolutely. Put your arm around their shoulder, you know, give them a pat on the back. Touch really matters and believe me, they like it. They may brush you off, but that prickly cactus actually likes its prickles touched, you know?
Amy: Can we talk about the balancing exercises that you talk about in your book? I thought this was fascinating because my ADHD kid has always loved-we have a spinny chair at home. This child used to sort of, you know, relax by spinning around in this chair a hundred times.
And this kid has incredible balance, likes to balance on things. And you have found that to actually be helpful. And can you tell us a little bit about that?
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Yeah. That's another new element in this book, new discovery in this book. It turns out, and this is from research by Jeremy Schmahmann at Harvard medical school, that the cerebellum, a big clump of neurons at the back of the brain, is far more important than we ever knew.
When I was in medical school, I was taught that it controlled balance. And so it does. But this clump of neurons, which occupies only 10% of brain volume, has 70% of the neurons in the brain. That's a staggering fact. So it turns out it is very connected through neural pathways to the front part of the brain, which is where the action is in ADHD.
With focus and mood control and impulse control and all the rest. So, and the practical part of this is by stimulating the cerebellum, you indirectly stimulate the frontal lobes and you get big time improvement in ADHD. As well as reading, as well as dyslexia. So cerebellar stimulation is I think the most powerful non-medication treatment we've got right now.
And how do you do it? It's exercises that challenge balance. You know, so 10 minutes, twice a day stand on one leg. Stand on one leg with your eyes closed. Stand on a wobble board. Stand on a, sit on an exercise ball with your feet off the floor. These kinds of exercises done regularly are really good for ADD and certain sports, skiing, skateboarding.
Really good for ADHD. Ride a unicycle. I mean, you know, anything that challenges balance. If you want something to do every day, when you get dressed, don't sit down. So put on and take off your socks and underwear without sitting down. Do it near your bed in case you fall over. But just that alone is a good cerebellar stimulation exercise. And we really have overlooked the cerebellum and it's a wonderful discovery because these are simple exercises that you can do regularly, and they will absolutely improve your ADD attention paradis. And of course they'll strengthen your core. So it's good for you.
Margaret: Two wins at the same time.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Exactly. Exactly. A double bonus.
Margaret: A double win. That's what we're always going for.
Amy: Ed, I wanted to talk about medication. It's such a fraught issue for parents, whose kid is ADHD. Do we start it? When do we start it? Are we bad for wanting to start? Are we bad for having waited? Can you tell us what you've sort of learned over time? What's the new research on medication?
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Well, I, you know, I called medication the most powerful intervention everyone fears. The good news is you don't need to fear it. I mean, these stimulant meds have been around since guess what year? 1937. So we have over 80 years of experience with these meds and, uh, nothing lasts that long in the world of medication unless it's safe and effective. So the fact that people are so afraid of it is in large part, a artifact of the press. You know, that the press likes to play up danger and minimize, uh, good news.
So rarely do you see an article "Ritalin changes lives for the better." Instead, you see "Ritalin leads to drug abuse. Ritalin leads to suicide. Drug companies are making money off of Ritalin." And yes, there's no drug company on the earth that doesn't operate for a profit. And yes, Ritalin can cause side effects. Severe side effects only when it's mismanaged.
Only when the doctor doesn't know what he or she is doing, or when the patient decides to snort it or inject it, or in some other sell it. Or, you know. So yes, there can be misuse of medication, but there can be huge misuse of pretty much anything. You can drown in water after all, you know? So when they're used properly, stimulant medication is an absolute godsend.
When it's used properly it's very much like eyeglasses. And suddenly you can focus, suddenly you can get organized.
Margaret: Hm, that's such, I've never heard that parallel before. That's really smart. And like, that's it. It's eyeglasses. It's not giving up, which I think a lot of people think of it as. It's not failing, it's eyeglasses.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Oh no, it makes your effort more productive, right? Instead of going through your day, squinting, straining to see. Now you can see clearly. It doesn't make you smarter, but it allows you to use your smarts far more effectively. Imagine how ineffective a student would be who didn't get eyeglasses? He or she would have to squint through their education.
And that's untreated ADD. A lot of kids are squinting through their education. And as a result, they're underachieving and they're getting lectures about how they should try harder. Which of course just diminishes their self-esteem because they're trying as hard as they can and they're getting bad results.
So, you know, it's really unfortunate that these meds have such a bad rap. You know that when they're used properly, they are an absolute godsend. They are very much like eyeglasses. They don't make you smarter. They don't do your homework for you, but they do allow you to use your smarts more effectively and do your homework more efficiently.
It's a common story. I'll see a kid who's spending six hours doing what should be one hour of homework. And when he gets on meds or when she gets on meds, they get the homework done in under an hour, you know? So, and that's just a matter of, you know, being able to focus. Another analogy I use is untreated ADD is like driving on square wheels.
You know, it takes a lot of effort to get a short distance. Well, if the meds work, they round out your wheels. And so you can go a lot further. With even less effort.
Margaret: And to take the metaphor to our audience, you can't not see the Blackboard because your mom didn't teach you to see correctly. And I think for a lot of moms, and you know Amy and I have both walked this path.
There is this feeling of, this is something that happens to bad moms, or this is something that happens to moms who weren't strict enough, didn't do enough extracurricular activities. I mean, first of all, this isn't something that happens to anybody. This is, as you say, a level of vastness that some kids are lucky to be born with.
I mean, but I think for us, that dialogue is taking a long time to change. Because also to be honest, you do get the call from school that's like, "I don't know what's wrong with your kid, but he forgot his laptop cord for the third time." And it is presented as this is your kid's fault. And as some extension, it is your fault.
Amy: And then if you take medication, or if you let your kid take medication, then you've given up. Right? Or you've fallen prey to the society that wants to medicate our children, instead of you're doing everything the best you can.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Just so ill informed. And if you're taking medication, you're doing the medically indicated step to help you remember to bring your cord, and the teachers should be calling and saying, "gosh, this ADHD thing, isn't easy is it? He forgot his cord again. Let's see what system we can develop, so he'll remember it instead of blaming him or you." What you blame is the ADD, you know, it's got a poor, a sprain. Or the analogy I like is you've got a race car brain with bicycle brakes. Your brain is going so fast you skid right past that cord.
You don't see it. Just like you drive through the stop sign as an adult, you know? So you've got a race car brain with bicycle brakes. And if you can convey that to the teacher and get the teacher to understand it, when she calls you, she won't be calling you with this sort of guilt provoking message, she'll say, "Oh my gosh, That ADD what a pain in the butt, you know, let's come up with a system, to deal with it."
Margaret: Let's figure it out.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Yeah. The kid, by the way, the chances are good that mom has it too, you know? Cause this is genetic. And by far the biggest undiagnosed group are adult women. And it's wonderful. It's wonderful to take an adult woman and see her get diagnosed. Everything changes. Everything in their life, changes for them.
Amy: Why do you think that we're underdiagnosed as a group?
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Because you're not disruptive. In school when you underachieved, you were dismissed as, as not very bright, daydreamer, lost in your thoughts. Uh, creative, but not terribly smart. And so you were, you skated on by and you weren't hyperactive, so you didn't overturn desks.
So you didn't, it was easy to overlook you. And dismiss you as being not terribly talented.
Margaret: You could blend in.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: And it's just breaks my heart because these little girls are unbelievably smart, unbelievably creative. They're just, if you ask them what's it like to be at school? They'll say, "Oh, it's fine. I'm almost never there." Because they're lost in their thoughts and how they're daydreaming.
They're building an imaginary world. And then when they become women, if they should happen to go for help, the medical and psychiatric profession is so poorly educated about this. They almost 98% of the time get diagnosed with depression or anxiety or both. And they get put on SSRI, which is not what they need.
And so the matter never gets addressed. So if any of your listeners identify with this, go, go see somebody. But make sure they understand adult ADD.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: And if you have trouble, you can always just reach out to me and I'll point you in the right direction.
Margaret: Can you talk a little bit on that subject to moms who are maybe home with young kids or 12 year olds, or any age, about a path of hopefulness for people who are really struggling and feel like they don't have this figured out, and give them some guidelines and strategies. Like where are we going with a four year old, when this seems really daunting to a mom? Or a dad.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: When you get diagnosed, your life changes the day. Like if today's the day, if you see your kid in any of this, or if you see yourself, today could be the first day of an incredibly better life. I mean, this really is a good news diagnosis. Things can only get better. And often dramatically so. And you know, it starts with education.
So get one of my books, or by the way I've made a whole bunch of postings on TikTOK. I have about 50, 62nd video clips on TikTOK. So if you don't want to read a book, go to TikTOK.
Margaret: Love it. You can see fun dances and this.
Amy: Do you dance?
Dr. Edward Hallowell: We're talking about ADHD, but it's so much realistic hope. I mean, honest to goodness, the game changers in this world, the entrepreneurs. I mean, I have a documentary coming up, profiling a whole bunch of people all of you have heard of who have this. I mean, and so I don't treat disabilities, I help people unwrap their gifts. And it starts with education. So if your child is gifted, but getting in his or her own way, driving you crazy, but you know he's got, obviously has creative talent, learn about it and get the right help and start unwrapping his or her gift. And, um, I just, it's why I love my job. People go from struggling and despair, not knowing what to do to just flying high. Is it labor intensive? Yes, it is. But don't do it alone. One of my first maxims is never worry alone. So find someone like me to worry with and to give you guidance based on knowledge, based on, you know, I've been at this for over 40 years.
And, you know, I really know what a jubilant story of victory and success this can be, but I also know how horrible it can be of struggle that, you know, no improvement and just day after day of frustration and feeling bad and feeling put down and misunderstood. And it's, it can be as you ladies say, fresh hell every day. You know? And you know, so. But turn that hell into heaven. And that's what this diagnosis can do with the right help.
Margaret: That is awesome. I just got goosebumps when you were talking. I was like, I can just picture all the people hearing this and saying that's what I needed to hear today.
Amy: This book provides hope. It's called ADHD 2.0 New Science and Essential Strategies for Thriving with Distraction-- from Childhood Through Adulthood.
Now, can you tell us where our listeners can find you on the internet?
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Well, you can go to my website, which is Dr. Hallowell, D R H A L L O W E L L dot com. And, uh, I have a whole bunch of information on the website, as well as how to reach me in my various offices. I'd love to hear from you. I love connecting with folks who are interested. And I'm on the various. Social media, TikTOK, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. And then of course the books are available. I have them on my website, my 20 books, as well as you know, the online booksellers. Everyone knows about Amazon, but there are other outlets as well. And if you do happen to get the book and read it, I'd love love love to hear from you because I just enjoy connecting with my readers tremendously. And I do answer my emails.
Amy: Now this has been an honor to speak to you. I love your work. It's really, really helped me in my parenting. And I'm so grateful to have had the chance to talk to you today.
Dr. Edward Hallowell: Well, it's an honor to speak to both of you. Thank you for the great work you're doing.
Margaret: Thanks so much.