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Notes from Dr Ed Hallowell Keynote Speech at the Seattle ADD Resources Conference



Dr. Edward Hallowell of Driven to Distraction Keynote Speech

I've recommended Dr. Ed Hallowell's many books on ADHD to all of my Adult ADHD Coaching clients, and member of my Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group He not only works with adult with ADHD he has ADHD. One good book to start with would be Delivered from Distraction

These notes were sent to me by Jonathan Dawson. They were much neater than my notes from the conference so I'm posting them here. It was a great speech. Was in 2004.

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful ADDers

1.     Do what you are good at.

2.     Delegate what you are bad at.

3.     Connect your Creativity with an outlet.

4.     Get well enough organized to achieve your goals.

5.     Ask for advice (Good Advice) where and whenever you can.

6.     Make sure you keep up social contact with close friends

7.     Go with your positive side; Run your life with your positive side.

The two traps of ADD are SPIN and SLIDE



Pessimism and general negativity


No creative outlet



Self attack

Life attack

Imagining the worst (Everything is bad)

Dread, on named anxieties



  • ADD is a trait; it is both a gift and a curse.
  • Every brain poses challenges and confers gifts.
  • ADD is just another type of brain, it is a "Race Car Brain with a Braking problem"

To optimize happiness:

  • Build a life on your talents
  • Reframe your brain.
  • Don't do moral Diagnosis

ADDers are known for: 

  • Zaniness, thinking outside the box
  • Unpredictability
  • Unusual kind of empathy
  • Persistence
  • Tenacity
  • Narcissistic, self involved, yes- but only when not paying attention
  • Ability to think of unusual solutions.  (The inventor of the electronic ticket had ADD, from Jet Blue Airways.)

ADHD Book Suggestions:

Out of our minds, about creativity

Look for Abilities within disabilities.

The only disability of ADD is Shame and Fear.

  • Get shame and fear out of the way. 
  • Fear->Activates the Limbic system->which recruits the frontal lobes->which slip into survival mode->"shut down": occurs-> no openness to new information.
  • ADDers need a loving protecting connection
  • The wasp triangle: Alcoholism, Mental illness, and Politeness. 
  • John Irving from Exeter, writer.

Dr. Hallowell has his practice in Sudbury Massachusetts. 

Treatment for ADD:  (DORE Treatment)

  • Exercises that stimulate cerebellum.  (Cerebellum contains 50% of brains neurons)

    • Tai chi
    • Balance
    • Juggling
    • Eye movements across midline activate cerebellum

Said a kid after doing the cerebellum stimulation exercises:  "I used to read choppy, but now I read smooth."

The problem with ADD:  Hope diminishes, Anger rises, Cynicism increases. 

Kids organize by stuffing, and then they graduate to piles. 

ADDers have two senses of time:  now, and not now.  I.e. "When is the test?"

 "This Friday."

 "Oh, so its not now."

Panic=Adrenalin, which is like Ritalin. ADDers are addicted to crises. 

The opposite of ADD is Attention Surplus disorder, like the people that work in the motor vehicle ticket department, who never had an original idea in their lives.

ADDers are impulsive when bored.  That's when they get into trouble.  ADDers don't have a problem in crisis; they know exactly what to do.  It's when they go for a vacation in Tahiti that they really should watch out. 

ADD does not require belief.  Its existence is scientifically proven by

  • MRI brain scans,
  • by Genetic studies,
  • it responds to a treatment plan,
  • there are anatomical differences in an ADDers brain,
  • it is highly heritable. 

"Sadness" is to depression what "wandering of attention" is to ADD.

Traits of ADDers

  • ADDers find it very hard to linger. 
  • They have a tendency to be a maverick.  "Want to do it my own way"
  • Are independent minded.
  • All the people in Europe who couldn't sit still migrated to North America.
  • Tendency to worry needlessly->They use worry as a means of stimulation.

    • Worry is a stimulant
    • You never hear "Riveted in contentment" no, its "riveted in Worry"
    • Conflict=Stimulation
  • Tendency to have inaccurate self observation
  • Problems with self esteem.

How to treat ADD

  • Do what you are good at
  • Delegate what you're bad at as much as possible
  • Be effectively interdependent.
  • Connect your creativity to a creative outlet
  • Get well enough organized to achieve your goal. (Don't waste time trying to be perfectly organized) the book: "Its hard to make a difference when you can't find your car keys"
  • Structure:  Sleep; don't stay up late
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition: junk food drops Blood Pressure.  Have protein instead. (Omega 3 fatty acids- great for add and inflammation.   Fish oil:  2000 mg a day.  (Barry Sears book The Omega RX Zone)
  • Prayer or meditation. ->Kundalini Yoga works for DR Hallowell
  • Positive Human contact. (Smiles, encouragement)
    • Coaching, psychotherapy
    • Medication: Since 1937 ADD stimulants have been around.  (Stimulants such as Ritalin actually decrease the chance of building another addiction.) 




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