The Many Faces of ADHD: Dr. Ned Hallowell

Health Writer

Dr. Ned Hallowell is the founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, located in Sudbury, Mass. He has written numerous books relating to ADHD, including co-authoring with Dr. John Ratey: Driven to Distraction, Answers to Distractions and Delivered from Distraction.

Dr. Hallowell is an expert on ADHD, parenting, managing anxiety and the importance of connection and forgiveness. In all, he has written 14 books.

Dr. Hallowell has ADHD. He was diagnosed in 1981, after he completed Harvard College and the Tulane School of Medicine. While completing a Fellowship, he attended a lecture on child psychology. The lecture included information about ADD and Dr. Hallowell had an "AH-HA" moment. He realized what he was hearing described him. This revelation, however, was not upsetting at all. He was actually quite happy to learning there was a name for what made him "different" throughout his life.

Dr. Hallowell sees himself as an exception. He was successful in school, attending both Harvard and Tulane School of Medicine without problems. He learned early, even before his diagnosis, of how to use ADHD to his benefit.

Dr. Hallowell sees ADHD in a positive way, as a gift to be unwrapped. Hyperactivity gives energy to life, inattention brings curiosity and impulsiveness brings creativity. ADHD helps him to speak what he sees and to speak honestly, without fear.

Just as in his career, Dr. Hallowell finds the traits of ADHD enhance his marriage. He brings novelty, energy and generousness to the relationship; his wife brings balance and stability. Together they "sync" and are currently writing a book, Married to Distraction.

Traditional treatment for ADHD includes medication and behavioral therapy. However, more and more research is being conducted on the impact of exercise on the brain. Physical exercise is a powerful tool for exercising the brain, as explained in Dr. John Ratey's new book, Spark. Another area of research includes cerebellar stimulation. Dr. Hallowell believes both of these have a place in treating ADHD, not to replace the traditional treatments, but to add to existing methods and enhance current treatment methods.

Dr. Hallowell's advice to adults with ADHD as well as parents raising children with ADHD is to seek out the right kind of help. He stresses therapy should be strength related and health providers should view ADHD as a gift to unwrap rather than as a disability. With this type of help, success can follow.