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ADD Decoded

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-Raising a child with attention deficit disorder can be challenging and confusing. Today, we have 2 experts in the Parents TV studio to help us sort it all out. Joining us first is Edward Hallowell, founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health and author of the new book, "Super Parenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child." Dr. Hallowell, thank you so much for coming in today. -Nice to be with you. -First, let start with the symptoms. I know some children go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. What should parents be looking for? -Well, first of all, don't be afraid of this diagnosis. It's not a bad thing at all, it's a trait, and these kids tend to have many positive qualities. They tend to be energetic, enthusiastic, creative, dynamic, innovative, think outside the box, and the whole point of identifying it is to promote those strengths and I really think it's important to keep that in mind. Now, what gets in the way of developing those strengths or symptoms like distractibility, impulsivity hyperactivity, often they're underachieving and they can't understand why the effort they put in doesn't get the results that they outta gets so they weren't the grades that they outta be getting; inconsistent performance, trouble with organizing, trouble with planning, trouble with time management, cleaning up your room, getting out the door in the morning, remembering things, forgetting things, that sort of panoply or organizational issues coupled with attentional problems. But remember, it's all in the context of these wonderful strengths of creativity, of charisma, of thinking outside the box, and you wanna make sure in school they don't get beaten down because the real disability, in my opinion, is fear and shame and thinking less of yourself. You wanna make sure you intervene before that happens. -Uh huh. So, what should you do? When should a parent say, "Okay, we need to call a doctor." -Yeah. When your best efforts aren't paying off the way they should. When your child is not thriving, it's not just enjoying life. And when you see some of these tell-tale issues getting in a way: organization, attention, inconsistent performance, unexplained underachievement, then you should get a consultation because what we can do is tremendously effective and these kids can just absolutely soar. -And when should a parent start considering medication, does it help? -Well, medication is not essential, but it is a very well-researched tool that can help a great deal, and most parents are terrified of medications. So, it's important that they understand how, in fact, very safe it is as long as it's use properly. -And there is something a parent can do aside from medications. -Absolutely! There is a [unk] and what you wanna make sure is that you have a comprehensive plan, a plan that takes into account, many different modalities, you certainly don't just want to rely on medication; education, structure, lifestyle changes, and then there is a specific non-medication intervention that we offer as well. -Dr. Hallowell, thank you so much. Great advice that you've given us. And for more information, you can pick up the book, "Super Parenting for ADD," or go to dr.hallowell.com. And coming up next, we'll talk to a coach from the Hallowell Center, who is also the mother of a daughter with ADD, so stick around. -Don't go away. Another Parents TV on-demand video is coming up next. -Welcome back everybody. I'm here now with Nancy Snell, an adult ADD coach at the Hallowell Center. Nancy also has a lot of personal experience with attention deficit disorder. She has ADD and she raised a successful daughter who was diagnosed with ADD at the age of 8. And Nancy, thank you so much for coming in. -Thank you. -Tell me how you found out that Elizabeth, your daughter, had ADD? -It was interesting because at that time, about 14 years ago, nobody ever heard about this until Dr. Hallowell brought the code. And so---- I just had some intuitive sense at that time that there was something: she was bright and capable and smart, and she was at school here in Manhattan, and I kept saying there is something and it was mother's intuition is what I wanna say. It was mother's intuition that kept me, make me keep going until we discovered this through a psychologist and then all the pieces went together. -So, once she was diagnosed, what changes did you make that helped her? -Well, I became an advocate and I've learned everything I could and gather help in the schools, and they were a little scared of me because I was asking a lot of questions and so---- So, it's a matter of finding support and finding tutors and finding teachers and as a parent, I learned how to advocate from my kid, and you know, I was unrelenting about it; just really in her corner. -And you said you were not diagnosed. She didn't even know that it was what you had. When did you figure out that you had ADD as well? -Same time, which is sort of classic, it's textbook, what happened so for so many of us, it's genetic. So, a lot of times as adults were diagnosed at the same time, so it was a lot of information for both of us to get. -What's the most difficult thing about rasing a child with ADD? -Probably to maintain---- being sure to maintain your self esteem because as addiers, very often, there is a discrepancy of our intelligence or of who we are, with who we're supposed to be, and a lot of times, people just don't get it. So, the tough part is that sometimes---- it seems like there's something wrong, they're just all over the place, your not connecting, the pieces don't seem to connect in ways that are logical because we think differently. -And how did you help Elizabeth? Did she need medication; was it something other than that? -It's a combination of a lot of things. The intervention---- I think mainly by always telling her since she was little and that's kept her all the way, "Whatever you do, just tell me when you need help and I will get you the best help available, just tell me." And we did that from day 1. -What's your best piece of advice if you could just help parents who are dealing with a child who has ADD, one thing, what would you tell them? -Keep your eye on the ball, pay attention to your gut, you know your kid, and don't be afraid to stand up and go into the school, and be their best protector. -Nancy, thank you so much. Thank you for sharing your story with us---- -Thanks. -and I think it's gonna help a lot of parents. -Hope so. -Alright, and if---- we would love to hear what you think also. You can send us an e-mail to ideas@parents.tv . I'm Juli Auclair. Thanks so much for wathching and we'll see you soon.