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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Archive for March, 2015

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Dr. Hallowell Offers Support to Those Feeling Desperate

If You are Desperate. . .

Take my hand. If you are desperate, just take my hand. You don’t have to believe anything, just take my hand. Listen.

It will all work out. It has before. It will again. It will all work out. It always has. It will again.

Whatever it is that has you feeling desperate, it will pass. Nothing lasts as it is. Everything subsides. Even pain. Especially pain.

Stay with me. Take my hand. That’s what I need when I am desperate, and I’ve had serious moments of desperation in my life, more than a few.

Take my hand. Please stay with me. We are in this life together.

All of us. Has someone betrayed you or threatened you? That happened to me, once really badly. I could tell you about that. Maybe later?

Have you done something that’s gotten you into trouble? Who hasn’t!

Are you desperately worried about someone you love? That’s especially hard, because you have so little control.

Whatever your situation, you do have me, at least right now. You also have everyone else in the world, it’s just pretty hard to feel their presence. They’re there, though. One day science will prove exactly how and where. They’re there and with us from the afterworld, too, at least if you ask my opinion, but that’s a totally different topic. You don’t need opinions and speculations now, you need solid comfort and relief.

Things will get better. Take it to the bank.

You sure don’t need theories or slogans. I Googled “feeling desperate” and got a lot of sites with solutions (usually for a fee, once you entered and scrolled down a bit), Biblical citations, and literary references to books like The Little Prince or Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Those books are wonderful fables, but you need something more immediate right now.

Like a guarantee. Who doesn’t like a guarantee? I can guarantee you, if you hang in there, things will get better.

Pain passes. Humiliation passes. Loss passes. Death takes, and then subsides. Betrayal passes.

The person who betrayed me, really bad, that I mentioned before? She and I are now friends. Never in a million years could I have predicted that during the seven years of suffering she caused me. But I forgave her. It was the best thing. It was a gift I gave to myself. Now I don’t feel awful or hate life when I think of her. I actually smile. We like each other again.

If I knew exactly what was bothering you, maybe I could help better. But maybe I don’t need to know, because feeling desperate, at its core, is pretty much the same regardless of the cause.

I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere. Things will get better. Just hang in there.

Get angry at me if you’d like to. When I feel desperate I often get angry at people who tell me things will get better. How could they possibly know? It makes me mad.

But it’s also what I want to hear because it’s what I want to believe.

Life is so hard. For us all. The good thing is it’s not hardest on all of us at the same time. So when one of us is more or less ok, we can help offer hope to those who are in the depths. It’s sorta like how we get each other through.

Each other. See, we’re the key. That’s not a theory, it’s a fact. You know it, I know it.

We’ve all been in the depths. If you’re there now, I can tell you, I’ve been there, too. Now, I have your hand. Maybe then, you had mine. So we can’t be all that far apart, if you get what I mean.

Being human keeps us close. We all have to play by the same rotten rules. Age, suffer, and die. Lose everyone and everything.

Maybe not everything. As long as someone has hope, there is hope. And as long as there is hope, desperation will subside.

Please allow for hope. Don’t block it out. It will come.

When I’m desperate, the worst moments are when hope, all of a sudden, vanishes, and all I can see are the very worst outcomes. It’s like a cloud blocks out the sun and my world goes dark. It’s just a feeling that overcomes me, with no warning, in periods when I am living in fear, sorrow, or danger. My world goes dark.

But, sooner or later, the cloud does move on, thank God, and the sun, such as it is, returns. I say “such as it is” because in those periods even the sun doesn’t restore me completely.

It’s such a cliche but it’s so true: life is all ups and downs. Thank God the downs don’t last forever, and I guess it’s just as well the ups don’t either.

If you’re in a down, please let me be with you. Think of me, a person you don’t know, talking to you right now, a person who’s been very down, but who, right now at least, has hope. Think of me just trying to get next to you in spirit to pump in some of the hope you don’t feel right now.

Hope is a potent force in the universe. Ok, that’s a theory, it’s my theory. When I’m desperate what I need more than anything is hope. Desperate basically means out of hope. Full of fear, but no hope.

Take my hand. Hope is what gets you to take it. Now let me transfuse some of my hope into you. Just hold on, it comes through naturally, just like it did when you gave it to me back when.

Even if you can’t hold my physical hand, which you can’t of course because you are reading this and you don’t know me from Adam, even so you can still feel as if you were holding my hand through my words. These are words of hope.

They are hard earned words. I won’t tell you all the troubles I’ve seen, but I’ve seen many, and I’ve been places where I felt nothing but fear, where I felt no hope at all.

Let me hold you now. It will work out. It always has. It always will.

Now, turn on a piece of music you love, let the music divert you and take you, and then come back and read this again, ok?

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Academic and Executive Function Help for Middle School to College Age Students

EARS makes students successful adults.

EARS trains students to manage emotions, problem-solve, to work smarter not harder and to get things done –the skills of successful people.

If your student is under-performing academically, overwhelmed with school work and wanting to do better, maybe your student is “all EARS.”

EARS turns failure on its head, making academic problems an opportunity for growth rather than a reason to despair. With the guidance of an EARS coach, students acquire habits and skills of success that will sustain over a lifetime.

Who can benefit from EARS?

EARS succeeds best with middle-school to college-age students who are motivated, trustworthy and “change-ready.” Students with a diagnosis or symptoms of ADHD, executive dysfunction, post-concussion syndrome, anxiety or learning disability are good candidates. It’s good, too, to have a parent or caregiver as a “behind the scenes” support for the student’s progress.

How does EARS work?

The EARS program, administered by Rebecca Shafir M.A.CCC, speech/language pathologist at the Hallowell Center, author and EARS founder, begins with a free phone screening with the student and the parent to learn about the program and to determine whether the student is a good EARS candidate.

A 90 minute intake session is scheduled ($300). The goal of the intake session is to establish a positive problem solving partnership. The intake process begins by identifying the strengths of each student that support change (i.e. sports experience, resilience, achievements, positive traits etc) and the resistances or weak links that have deterred success. A customized course of action with specific objectives with timelines is designed by the student and the EARS coach.

10 one-hour sessions ($150 each) 1-2x a week are set up. The number of sessions or the time spent per session can be extended depending upon several factors, but to keep “the end in sight” we focus on keeping the time commitment to only 10 sessions or less. The sessions can be in person, via Skype or by phone. We start facilitating change from the outside in, making adjustments that will have the greatest impact and are easiest to sustain. Enhancement of sleep, diet and exercise, and responses to stress can ease functioning overall. If medication has been prescribed, we evaluate its effectiveness in helping the student move forward. When students used to failure start to sense positive changes early on, they are more willing to accept next steps.

Next, attention is given to the student’s environment: the physical setting for study, caregiver influence, school accommodations and incentive systems.

As the student’s self care and environmental supports are in place, he or she will be more enabled to address the logistics of planning and efficiency. These include organization of the back pack, homework planning; evening preparation, and study skills based on the most updated research on effective cognitive processing. Dependence on electronics is limited to avoid distraction.

We take on strategies that prevent procrastination and encourage more realistic self-talk and reinforcing strategies. Students are taught ways to monitor their progress, independently troubleshoot sticking points and make needed changes. Reporting schedules with the EARS coach are set up for consistent and frequent communication. Progress is monitored weekly via student, teacher and caregiver feedback.

A stellar report card may spell success for many signing up for the EARS program, but for some, the greater success will be achieved in the form of self-discovery— understanding and accepting oneself, becoming open to new ways of looking at old challenges, and in some situations, choosing a more appropriate educational or career path that could save them time and money down the road.

Payment: Clients pay for the intake session and 5 sessions up front. Training sessions are sold in sets of 5. The student and caregiver are informed that there are no refunds once the student begins each set of sessions. This step helps to insure a short term commitment of the student to the program. Optional monthly maintenance sessions are also available.

For more information on EARS contact Rebecca Shafir at 978 287 0810 or 978 255 1817. Email her at RebeccaShafir@gmail.com.

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Note from Ned

Note from Ned
March 8, 2015

Dear Friends,

In this “Note from Ned” I want to tell you about one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken in my life. The last few days of February (2/25-3/1 to be exact) I fled the otherworldly snows of Boston and flew to Israel.

A marvelous woman by the name of Iris Shani invited me and set up the trip.  She and her colleagues founded an organization three short years ago to help educate and inspire the people of Israel regarding ADHD, dyslexia, and other differences in learning.

What she and her group have done in such a short time is truly amazing.  One evening I spoke to an audience of about 300 parents, and the next morning to an audience of about 300 professionals.  Both audiences were active, engaged, and full of excellent questions.

Iris also brought over other experts, including Dr. Jeffrey Newcorn from Mt. Sinai in New York City, and Dr. Joseph Biederman from Mass. General Hospital and Harvard in Boston, as well as bringing in local experts to speak.

I was thrilled to see how much interest there is in Israel and also how enthusiastically they embraced by strength-based approach.  By the time I finished they were all talking about the “race-car brain with bicycle brakes”!

Iris deserves enormous credit. She and her devoted colleagues did all this work for no pay, only the love of the cause of educating people in Israel and beyond about ADHD.

After I’d given my talks I spent my final day in Israel in Jerusalem.  That was a deeply meaningful experience for me.  As some of you know, I am an Episcopalian, and my spirituality sustains me every day.

Within a tiny area Jerusalem contains three of the holiest places on earth.  The Wailing Wall, which is deeply significant in Judaism; the Dome of the Rock, just above the Wailing Wall, which is of deep significance to Muslims; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Via Dolorosa, the road Jesus walked carrying his cross to be crucified.

It all put me into a kind of trance, the wisps of which I do believe will stay with me for a long time to come.

I wish you all the best, the very best.  Know that no matter what we believe, we are all in this life together.

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Learning to Manage Workplace Stressors

What does focus and flexible focus have to do with workplace efficiency?

Read more at Work and Family Life:


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