Getting Help For ADHD

Dr. Edward Hallowell
Dr. Edward Hallowell

Foreword by Rick Green



Ned is kind of like the Stephen King of Attention Deficit  Hyperactivity Disorder, he has written so many books.

Often he writes with others and of course he has editors and proof readers. 

In other words, he knows you don’t create anything amazing all by yourself, and being the author of so many ground-breaking books about ADHD he knows how important it is that you get reliable information that you can use to move forward.

I was fortunate to sit down with Ned one afternoon for an interview, and this article is a portion of our discussion.

It’s part of a series of articles from that discussion. Most of my questions are removed, but the following is his part of our conversation. Enjoy!

Finding Support for ADHD – Adults and Children

Dr. Edward Hallowell:

In terms of finding help, I would start with a book and a friend.  

So forget about the professionals at the start because the professionals are hard to find and they are unpredictable, but start with a book and there are several wonderful ones.

Obviously I recommend my own but there are other excellent ones.


(Note to reader: see Resources links below this article.)

Then find a friend, somebody who has ADD or ADHD also, or who has a child with it. Whichever situation you’re dealing with, and you can find those through the schools, through word of mouth, through the community

Those are the two ways to get started.  

Reading books about ADHD
Reading books about ADHD is a good starting point

The book will give you more information than most doctors have and the friend will sort of worry with you.

One of my first rules is never worry alone, because you get into trouble when you worry alone.  You get depressed, you awful-ize things, you lose perspective, and you make bad decisions.

So you want to have a friend, and maybe a group if that happens to be a group, but at least one other person that you can schmooze with about this, and a book.

Then, based on that you start looking around.  Start with your primary care doctor, and say –  I want someone who deals with adults, if you are an adult, or children, and who has experience.

The person’s degree really doesn’t matter.  For prescriptions you need an MD, but beyond that, for coaching, for planning, for therapy, it could be a social worker.

Then among MD’s could be a paediatrician, it could be a GP, could be a psychiatrist, child psychiatrist, paediatric neurologist, neurologist.

The degree, the person has, and the specialty isn’t what matters.

What matters is number one, above all else, do you like the person? And number two, do they have experience in treating children and adults with this condition?

Treatment for ADHD

Now I would add a third, because I think it’s so critical. Find someone who takes a strength-based approach. I think the days of the deficit-based model should be over.

Seeing ADHD as purely a disorder should be over.

Russ Barkley and I have been misunderstood as being opposed to each other, in fact we totally agree. Russ represents how bad ADHD can be if you don’t diagnose and treat it, and I represent how great it can be if you diagnosis and treat it properly.

So it’s two sides of the same coin, and you want to find someone, a doctor or a therapist or whoever, who sees what a champion you can be.

Someone who sees ADHD not as an unremitting curse, but as a condition that with the proper help, can turn you into a major league champion.

I tell folks having ADD is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain.

You’re blessed with this powerful brain but you have bicycle breaks. So a Ferrari with no brakes is a dangerous instrument, but a Ferrari with brakes, that’s gonna win races.

I tell folks I’m a brake specialist you know. So I now say I don’t treat disabilities I help people unwrap their gifts.

I think that shift in emphasis, it’s the way of the future in all of mental health not just not just to ADHD.

How Does Your Mindset Affect You?

Dr. Edward Hallowell:

The whole field of positive psychology has shown us in Martin Seligman, and all his colleagues, has shown us how tremendously powerful your attitude is in predicting outcomes.

So, if you believe – I’m on my way to being a winner, you know, what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset, if you believe I can acquire whatever skills I need, you will.

If on the other hand you say – I’m limited by the fact that I have ADHD, then you will be limited.

So it’s very important, I think, that you find a professional who understands that a strength based model, and far from being  Pollyanna, the strength based model is muscular.  It says yeah we got a lot of work to do in order to become a champion but if we do the work the sky’s the limit.

Rick Green:

Do you want to address that mindset of – this is how I’ve been, this is how my dad was, and talk a little bit even about neural pathways, and building them, or building newer ones?

Dr. Edward Hallowell:

I think for the layperson, they don’t need to learn so much about neural pathways as they need to learn the power of what you believe.

If you believe that you can learn everything you need to learn to reach your goals, that gives you a tremendous leg up.

If on the other hand you believe – I’m too stupid, I’ve got this condition, I’ve got this disorder, I don’t have enough money,

I don’t have enough resources, then you won’t.

Carol Dweck, this brilliant psychologist at Stanford spent her whole career proving this, this is empirical research, this isn’t philosophy, this isn’t Norman Vincent Peale.  

Although he was right, Norman Vincent Peale, he was absolutely right. It’s now been proven that if you think you can, you can.

Henry Ford said – whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right, and that’s true, and there’s a neurological basis for it. So, you want to work with someone who will instil that in, you know, the hope.

It’s so ironic that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, either way.

If you give in to the pessimism, if you get in to the negativity, if you say I am limited by my genes, by my situation, then you will be, but if you say, oh no the sky’s the limit.

If I work hard, I can acquire the skills I need, then you will and this is such good news, it’s very freeing.  It means you don’t have to be limited by your genes and your life situation, but it takes usually some outside encouragement, you know.  

The Power of Community

Dr. Edward Hallowell:

It’s hard to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps you know.  One of my things that I really stress is the power of connection. 

So, you want to have as many points of positive connection in your life as you can.  Friends, groups, job, neighbourhood, community mission, God if you happen to believe in God, some kind of sense of – I’m not in this alone, and I can turn to these people, these groups, these forces to take energy.

List Of Books About ADHD

For a full list of recommended books about ADHD see Best ADHD Books

Dr. Edward Hallowell’s Books About ADHD

Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder

Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder

Because I Come from a Crazy Family: The Making of a Psychiatrist

Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child

Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition

Other Books Mentioned in This Video

Martin Seligman – Authentic Happiness

Carol Dwek – Mindset

Norman Vincent Peale – The Power of Positive Thinking



See Also:
Part 1 of our interview with Dr. Edward Hallowell ADHD and Procrastination

To Order Our Full Interview With Dr. Edward Hallowell click the image below

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