Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Between my Junior and Senior year in college, I took a year off. I wanted to see what being on my own would be like. Likewise, I wanted some time to make a career decision between the two options that I was weighing. Should I become a writer while teaching high school English to support myself vs. going to medical school. I thought that by trying to write for a year, I’d get a taste of that life.

Summer of 1971

I worked during the summer of 1971 as a waiter in the evenings at a steakhouse called Pate’s in my home town of Chatham on Cape Cod. During the day I tutored whomever wanted my services in Math and English. By October I’d made enough money to pay for the rest of the year. So I packed up and headed off to London.

Off to London

My undergraduate tutor (at Harvard you get a professor to serve as your “tutor” in the field you major in: I was an English major, and my tutor was a legendary Professor by the name of William Alfred) had given me a letter of introduction to a poet in London by the name of Jonathan Griffin. He also introduced me to a young woman, Judith Thurman, another poet. She was living the life of a writer herself. Judith has gone on to fame and fortune, working as a staff writer at the New Yorker. In addition, she was authoring several biographies, one of Isak Dinesen that was turned into the movie, Out of Africa.

She was also friends with a London playwright named David Pinner as well as an Irish writer/philosopher named Lawrence Pitkethly. That group, along with my college friend, Jon Galassi, who was studying at Cambridge University on a Fellowship, comprised a band of writer-friends who met regularly to eat, drink, and be merry. Jon has since gone on to be the head of the esteemed publishing house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, as well as a noted poet and novelist in his own right.

However, Thanksgiving of that year found me all alone in the apartment –or flat–I’d rented in Barnes, just over the Hammersmith Bridge in London. All of my friends were doing something else, and since American Thanksgiving is not celebrated in England, the city treated that Thursday like any other day. There were no special places for turkey and stuffing, and even if there had been, I don’t think I would have wanted to eat alone.

Feeling Isolated

I felt weirdly isolated, an American with no family on the most family-centered holiday of the year. Of course, I knew I had a family across the ocean, I knew this day was exceptional to me and that back home others would be gathering for the feast I always enjoyed so very much.

But that feeling of being disconnected from the people I wished I were with on a day that usually was such fun, that feeling in an odd way taught me about Thanksgiving. It taught me—showed me viscerally—what I had to give thanks for, by, for the moment, removing it.

I got through the day, I don’t remember exactly what I did, and the year wound its way along. I took a side trip to Greece, to the island of Mykonos and took the Orient Express back to London, all the while wondering what I was going to do with my life.

For reasons that escaped me then and escape me now I made what was and is incontrovertibly the correct decision. I decided to become a doctor. As it happened, I became a writer as well, so I was able to achieve both goals.

For that I am thankful. But I am also thankful for that lonely Thanksgiving in London that taught me, in a new and different way, the meaning of Thanksgiving.

I wish you all the very best on your Thanksgiving holiday.

Warm wishes,
Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D.

Interested in studying abroad? I invite you to listen to my podcast on: Tips for Studying Abroad with How To ADHD and Landmark College.

Why I call Connect: The Other Vitamin C

In this post, Dr. Hallowell lists what he’s grateful for

ADHD & Dyslexia Non-Medication Treatment

In this episode of Distraction on ADHD & Dyslexia Non-Medication Treatment, I interview my friend, colleague and mentor Wynford Dore. He discusses his personal journey and why he created the Zing Performance program, the science behind it and what this means for you while I share details about my own son Jack going through the treatment when he was 12 years old and how it helped him.

New research has shown that the key to treating ADHD and dyslexia lies in the cerebellum, the area of the brain that controls coordination and balance, with exercise playing an integral part.

For the past 25 years Wynford Dore has pioneered research into the root cause of learning struggles, building on the ground-breaking discoveries from the HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL about the cerebellum.  The new treatment program he created to help his struggling daughter has shown remarkable success in the more than 50,000 people that have tried it, including my own son. This breakthrough is so new that most doctors don’t even realize the important role the cerebellum plays in unlocking a person’s potential.

I invite you to listen to our conversation and learn more about Zing Performance.  I’m excited to be teaming up with Wynford again and adding Zing to the treatment toolbox for ADHD and Dyslexia.


If you have a questions, please reach out to us! Just record your question or comment on your phone using the voice memo app and send it connect@distractionpodcast.com. I enjoy hearing from you. Thanks.

If you’ve missed my episode on How ADHD Affects Emotions, listen here.

You’ll learn how to manage these intense emotions and reactions. In addition, you’ll learn why people with ADHD are more likely to have trouble with emotional dysregulation.

Thank you for being a part of my podcast community.

If you would like more information on Treating ADHD and my strength-based approach, click here.

Your Racing ADHD Brain

In his ADDitude Magazine article on “How to Slow Down Your Racing ADHD Brain,” Dr. Hallowell says, “Telling someone with ADHD to slow down is like telling the sun not to shine and the tide not to rise. The love of speed is built into our DNA. If our bodies are not moving a mile a minute, our minds are, ideas popping up like popcorn at the movies.”🍿

Your Racing ADHD Brain and the Need For Speed

We get off on speed, and we abhor slowing down. I hate it when I’m in the checkout line at the supermarket, and I get stuck behind a person who wants to pay with a check. Oh, the agony. Producing identification, the cashier writing it down, the customer putting it away, all of which seems to take forever. I stand and stew. People with ADHD can be impatient, and to use such time imaginatively would require something we don’t have: patience.

Read more and get practical tips from Dr. Hallowell on slowing down your ADHD brain in ADDitude.

Dr. Hallowell’s “Race Car Brain” analogy:

The current medical model for ADHD is deficit-based, as the name itself demonstrates: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  While the medical model is preferable to its predecessor, which I call the “moral model” by which a child was labeled “bad,” “wayward,” “lazy,” or even “incorrigible,” the medical model slaps a pathological diagnosis upon the child, and a pretty miserable-sounding one at that.

Who wants to have a “deficit disorder”?  How much enthusiasm can you expect someone to muster to deal with that?  It is no wonder that many children reject the diagnosis and refuse to accept the label.  They’d prefer to fail on their own then cop to a plea of “deficit disorder” to get the help they need.

Instead, I recommend embracing a strength-based model, a model that acknowledges while there is a potentially serious downside to ADHD, there also is a potentially spectacular upside to it as well.

Dr. Hallowell’s Strength-based model:

The model I use when I present the diagnosis to children is as follows. I say to whomever it is I am giving the diagnosis of ADHD, “I have great news for you.”  At that the child, and his parents, look up, as this is not what they’d been expecting to hear. 

“I’ve learned a lot about you,” I go on.  “I’ve taken your history, and I’ve read what your various teachers have had to say about you.  As you know, we’ve also done some tests.  After putting all this information together, I’m now able to tell you that you have an awesome brain.”

“Your brain is very powerful.  Your brain is like a Ferrari, a race car.  You have the power to win races and become a champion.”  “However,” I continue, “you do have one problem.  You have bicycle brakes.  Your brakes just aren’t strong enough to control the powerful brain you’ve got.  So, you can’t slow down or stop when you need to.  Your mind goes off wherever it wants to go, instead of staying on track.  But not to worry, I am a brake specialist, and if you work with me, we can strengthen your brakes.”

Strengthening Brakes

Which is true.  Treating ADHD is all about strengthening brakes.  The inhibitory systems in the brain, which is to say the brakes, do not work well enough to control it. So, it can’t inhibit incoming stimuli, hence is distractible, nor can it inhibit outgoing impulses, hence is impulsive and hyperactive.

But consider also that each of those negative symptoms has a corresponding positive one.  The flip side of distractibility is curiosity, a valuable quality indeed.  The flip side of impulsivity is creativity, a hugely valuable asset.  You can’t be creative if you aren’t somewhat disinhibited.  And the flip side of hyperactivity is a quality I’m grateful at my age to have.  It’s called energy.

As a brake specialist, I can help these children, and their adult counterparts, strengthen their brakes.

I advocate embracing the strength-based model.  I believe this is so important.  When a child is disruptive you can simply say, “Joey, your brakes are failing you now.”  This sets a limit, but it does so in a non-shaming way.  Joey has already had it explained to him that he has a race car brain with bicycle brakes, and he has already accepted you, the parent, as someone who is going to help him strengthen his brakes.

Other interventions you can make in your child’s environment:

  • setting up predictable schedules and rules;
  • breaking down large tasks into small ones;
  • balancing structure with novelty, so that when your child gets overstimulated you introduce structure, and
  • when your child gets bored you introduce novelty;
  • making sure your child gets play time and frequent “brain breaks.”

Most importantly, make sure your child knows you love him or her and are on his side (or hers).  Make sure you and your child understand ADHD in the same way: race car brain, bicycle brakes.

Just embrace the strength-based model and use it every day.  Helping your ADHD child excel takes a lot of time and energy.  But your energy is much better spent if you think of ADHD not as a disability but as a gift to unwrap.

Dr. Hallowell describes his “race car” brain analogy is this VIDEO.

Learn more about ADHD for parents, HERE

and ADHD for Adults HERE.

Parenting Your ADHD Child

Parenting Your ADHD Child: If you are the parents of an ADHD child, you may worry, and rightfully so, that the diagnosis can make your child feel labeled or set apart from other kids. It is important that your child not feel defined by ADHD. Having ADHD is like being left-handed; it’s only a part of who you are.

Try to answer any questions your child has about ADHD, but keep the answers simple and brief. Some older children may want to read a book about ADHD, but they don’t need to become experts on ADHD – just experts on living their lives as fully and well as they can.

How To Help

One of the most important things for the parents of a child with ADHD to do is help that child feel good about who he or she is. You’ll need to search out and promote the positives – both about life and about your child – even as you deal with the all-too-obvious negatives. If your child feels good about who he is and about what life has to offer, he will do far better than if he does not.

In his book Superparenting for ADD, Dr. Hallowell encourages parents to build up their child’s confidence and self-esteem by creating what he calls “the cycle of excellence.”

The Cycle of Excellence

The “cycle of excellence” consists of five key actions that work together synergistically to help “unwrap the gifts” of the ADHD mind.

  1. Create a “connected” environment for your child, full of emotional connections to people, places, and activities they love. A “connected” child feels positively engaged in the world, and that feeling is like an inoculation against despair. The great beauty of a connected childhood is that it is free and available to everyone.
  2. PLAY – any activity in which a child’s imagination gets involved and the mind lights up.
  3. PRACTICE – Practice that emerges out of enthusiastic play lays down habits of discipline that endure.
  4. ACHIEVE MASTERY – getting better at an activity that is both challenging and important. Achieving mastery does not mean becoming the best at a particular activity. What matters is making progress in that activity.
  5. RECOGNITION – The fifth, and final, action in the “cycle of excellence” is to receive recognition, which naturally flows from achieving a certain level of mastery in a difficult activity. This doesn’t mean you have to win a prize or get your name in the newspaper. It just means that someone sees, values, and acknowledges the progress that has been made. Such recognition solidifies the confidence, self-esteem, and motivation that mastery engendered, thus completing the cycle.

The single most important treatment for ADHD – or for any child at any age – is to enter into this “cycle of excellence.”

Find peace in parenting in Dr. Hallowell’s “4 Key Strategies: Unlock the Secrets to Raising Kids with ADHD.

Why Kids Should Hold Onto Their Dreams No Matter How Unrealistic

How Your ADHD Child Can Play and Live Better

In this special guest post by Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M.Ed. (author of Why Will No One Play with Me?) shares her advice for parents on how:

Your Child with ADHD Can Play Better and Live Better With Coaching: Learn How!

As a parent, you hear your child with ADHD revealing too much too soon to another child. You watch your teenager avoid reaching out to other teens. You notice your child seems immature and is laughing too long at jokes that are no longer funny. Or you notice your child can be irritable and appear rude. Children and teenagers with ADHD often struggle with self-awareness, self-regulation, and the ability to manage emotions that are crucial to social interactions.

You may be baffled, but you can help your child with ADHD change her social approach. With direct instruction and support, your child can work with you to develop better social skills. Why Will No One Play With Me? is your road map to learn how to talk to your child, coach her, and help her to develop these key life skills. After all, how often does self-advocating and communicating with teachers and peers come up in academics? Being able to fit in, collaborate with others, manage emotions, and make conversation are not just social skills—they are life skills.

Check Out My Top 5 Tips to Help Your Child Play Better and Improve Social Skills:

1. Open the Lines of Communication

Start by using more open-ended questions to open the conversation and make it more collaborative. Open-ended questions use the words who, what, when, where, how, and why. They ask, rather than tell. You can ask your child, What makes friendship hard? Who are you hanging out with these days? I notice you had a big reaction, what made you have that reaction? You need intel, and your child has it.

This communication style will allow for more collaborative discussions and help you to understand your child’s social dilemmas through his eyes and his own experience. Don’t assume you know why things are happening. When we assume, we miss so much. Any time your child balks at doing something you’ve suggested, ask, How come? Maybe it’s because he’s afraid of the unknown, or he remembers an experience that wasn’t pleasant.

2. Teach Your Child to Read Between the Lines—Games make learning more fun.

Play a game with your child. Make it a game to ask your child to interpret not what people say, but what they mean based on body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. If need be, prompt your child and share with her some ways to guess what the person means, such as, What does the person’s body signals and tone of voice tell us they are trying to say? What do we know about this person? Ask her to pick out a sharp tone in one party guest, someone at the mall who is angry but does not say she is angry or someone who uses sarcasm and ask her how she knows this is the case.

3. Teach Your Child Learn to Read the Room

Help your child learn to clue into social cues by playing a game with your child. Prompt your child to pick out two people in her family to observe and then to report back what their facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice are when they are angry, frustrated, nervous, or frightened. When you and your child are at a party, at a mall, engaging with your family, ask her what she sees. Ask her, What does that person’s body language mean? What information can you gather just from the person’s tone of voice? In every environment, there are social guidelines, meaning typical behavior that the situation calls for—they are the unspoken rules.

4. Help Your Child Improve His Self-Regulation 

Help your child learn what makes him too excited, lose control of his body, or become flooded with emotions. In the moment, guide your child to pinpoint what is going on inside his body and mind. These are signals that show him his current emotional state. Ask your child, Is there a particular topic that makes you experience a reaction? What happened before you got excited, or felt big emotions? Arm your child with calming strategies that you design with him collaboratively, so he is prepared in the heat of the moment to head off any signs of losing control.

5. Teach your child to engage in a “polite pretend”

The ability to fake interest or happiness and to be polite even when your child is hungry, tired, or bored is what I call a polite pretend. Begin by asking him some open-ended questions, How do you think your friend felt about your behavior? How do other people feel about how you treated them? What behavior does the situation call for? This will help your child think about his actions and why performing a polite pretend may be necessary rather than hurting other people’s feelings.


Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M.Ed. is a personal coach who works with children who struggle socially and the families who support them. She is a former coach for the Hallowell Center in Sudbury, MA. While with the Hallowell Center, Caroline was the primary coach for children and teenagers. Her groundbreaking book, Why Will No One Play With Me? teaches parents how to coach their children to develop and improve their social skills.

Follow her parenting advice and purchase the book at carolinemaguireauthor.com.

Learn about Coaching at the Hallowell Centers: NYC and Boston MetroWest

Taking Back Control of Your CrazyBusy Life

Do the words Crazy Busy sum up your life? Are you increasingly wrestling with the issue of what to do about what’s happening and how to cope in a distracted, disconnected world?  Are you wondering how to take back control of your crazybusy life? Then listen to Dr. Hallowell’s mini podcast on “Taking Back Control of Your Crazy Busy Life” and learn how to focus on what matters most to you.

Dr. Hallowell is also including more practical strategies below from his book: CrazyBusy. These tips can help you take back control of your time, learn how to use electronic devices responsibly, and reestablish the human connection that is all too often missing.

Coping in a Distracted, Disconnected World: Taking Back Control of Your Crazy Busy Life

1.   Education. First, take an honest assessment of how the use of electronics and technology has taken control of your life.

  • Are you texting friends or colleagues while sitting next to them instead of having a face-to-face conversation?
  • Are you spending too much time interacting on Facebook instead of hanging out with friends?

Involve your family in the discussion. Point out how you grapple with the over use of technology and ask them to assess their use of electronics as well. To get the best outcome, it is essential that all family members be involved in managing screen time.

2.  Set a goal of how much total time should be spent each day on electronics.  Then break the total goal into time categories: how much time where, doing what, with whom.

3. Plan daily periods of abstinence.  These “brain breaks” provide intervals of time in which no electronic device may be turned on.  Yes, this will be difficult for you at first.  So try beginning with 10 minutes twice a day.  Then increase that time by 10 minutes a week until you reach 1 hour a day or whatever goal you all want to achieve.

To go one step further, plan a “de-tox” day over the weekend.

Reserve a Saturday or Sunday, during which you and/or your family has absolutely no electronic usage whatsoever, except lights and appliances.  No TV, no phone, no Internet, no video games, no iPad.

Get the family or your friends involved in planning the “de-tox” day. You can play a board game, go for a hike, visit a relative or family friend.  Other suggestions are to volunteer at a community event or any other ideas the family comes up with. The point is to plan something that doesn’t involve any electronics.  Then have fun reconnecting.

4.  Make it a goal to restore the healthy habits that over use of electronics often disrupts:  First of all, get more physical exercise, especially outdoors.  Try eating family dinner together. Figure out how to enough sleep.  Finally, have some uninterrupted face-to-face conversations; pray or meditate.

5.  Replenish daily your dose of the other Vitamin C, Vitamin Connect.  Overuse of electronics depletes one’s store of the human connection. Spend time having a face-to-face conversation with people, uninterrupted by anything. Likewise, try banning electronics when you’re out with friends or during dinner.  Having face-to-face conversations with others is an important step.

6.  Monitor progress together.  Set time aside each day or weekly to see how everyone is doing.  What difficulties are they having? What difficulties are you having?  How does everyone feel about this?


Setting goals to limit the use of electronics and helping each other achieve those goals can be a family and/or friend project. Of course, it won’t be easy, but don’t give up. Your success in addressing the overuse of electronics one strategy at a time will lead to your success, and a lot more joy for the entire family.

Adapted from CrazyBusy Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap!   Ballentine, NY, 2006

CrazyBusy App


Let Dr. Hallowell help you manage your CrazyBusy life. Download for FREE his CrazyBusy Tips APP for iPhone.


Making Meaningful Connections

Making meaningful connections at their best involve your whole soul. Of course, not every connection will draw upon all of you, but if you give yourself honestly in all your interactions, you’ll make meaningful connections and lead a connected life.

If, each day, you resolve to make contact, if you resolve to reach out, no matter what the response, in a genuine way; and if you resist the urge to pull back, then you will connect. In short, if you try to draw pleasure from connecting, you will.

Why not try starting your day with family breakfast? Or breakfast with a friend?

Click here for Tips on Making Meaningful Connections

If you’re a parent and would like to know how to help your child make meaningful connections, Dr. Hallowell’s session in The Parenting AUTISM Summit on The Importance of Making Meaningful Connectionsairs Wednesday, November 6th.

About The Parenting Autism Summit:

The Parenting AUTISM Summit offers strategies in autism and parenting from 28 experts; including Dr. Hallowell, that work to help your child navigate the social world; some of the available treatment options and how to focus on your child’s wellness, and more.

The summit is online and runs November 4 – 7, 2019.  You can’t afford to miss this! 

You’ll Learn the skills, strategies, and mindset necessary to understand:

  • how to help your child feel safe, loved, and appreciated;
  • to figure out what is behind your child’s behaviors; 
  • how some people experience their autism; and more…

Register for FREE here. 


How To Face Your Fears

When I first started speaking in public, I was terrified to speak in front of people. I had a phobia of public speaking. However, I had messages I wanted to share with the general public. I wanted to share what I knew about ADHD and other psychological topics.  So what was I to do? In my podcast on  How To Face Your Fears,” I describe how I overcame my fear of public speaking and offer ways you can overcome your phobia or fear.

As such, I invite you to listen and learn “How to Face Your Fears.”


What’s the Difference Between Fear and Phobia?

Fear is an emotional response to perceived or real danger. It can be a wonderful ally as long as it goes off when it should. For example, when it keeps you from putting yourself in a dangerous situation.

When fear is of a specific thing, we call it a phobia.  A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that describes an excessive and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation. Such as, fear of flying, fear of heights and fear of public speaking.

Phobias involve intense fear surrounding an object or situation that realistically poses little or no real danger. They are different from common fears in that the associated anxiety is so strong it interferes with daily life and the ability to function normally.  People suffering from phobias may go to extreme lengths to avoid encountering or experiencing the feared object or situation. If you have a fear or phobia that is paralyzing and life-defeating,  in addition to consulting with your family doctor, be sure to consult with experts in other fields

How the Hallowell Center Can Help

Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include therapy, medication or both.  When should you seek therapy? Generally when the phobia causes intense fear, anxiety or panic and it stops you from your normal routine or causes significant distress. Taking the time to get diagnosed and set up a treatment plan is an investment in your health and well-being.

Find out how one of our qualified mental health professionals can help you by calling The Hallowell Center:

Boston MetroWest at 978-287-0810

New York City at 212-799-7777

San Francisco at 415-967-0061

Seattle at 206-420-7345