Dr Ed Hallowell ADHD Keynote Seattle

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Notes from Dr Ed Hallowell Keynote Speech at the Seattle ADD Resources Conference I attended. Dr Hallowell has ADHD and has been teaching people about ADHD and ADHD management techniques for decades in a very creative, engaging and very human vs traditional medically sterile way.

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.

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.

Delivered from Distraction- Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder. Dr Ed Hallowell, Dr. John Ratey

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.

I’ve seen him talk 3 times, once in Seattle and twice in Vancouver and highly recommend if you ever get the chance to hear him speak in person you see him.

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
Unusual kind of empathy
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.)

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.

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

It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized. By Marilyn Paul

  • 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.
  • Positive Human contact. (Smiles, encouragement)
  • ADHD 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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