Millions of American kids have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without hyperactivity. This can make for challenges in the classroom, and even at home or with friends.

People with ADD are often prescribed stimulant medications to help them focus better. What are the benefits and risks of such drugs? What other approaches can help? How does ADD affect relationships such as marriage?

Dr. Ned Hallowell is one of the country’s leading experts on ADD and ADHD. His books, Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction are classics in the field.

Guest: Edward (Ned) Hallowell, MD, is a child and adult psychiatrist and founder of The Hallowell Center in Sudbury, Massachusetts. His books include Driven to Distraction, Delivered from Distraction, and  CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap.
His Web site is

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  1. Tom Gerni, MT-BC

    A good mix of the arts integrated into other tasks in the routine (or non-routine) of the individual w ADHD-like symptoms is helpful in promoting increases in task attending behaviour as well as providing great diversity and fun; a sense of accomplishment and challenge to pursue those “15 minute wonders” when the magic really happens.

  2. Jack M. P.

    Regarding the discussion of Adult ADD; Mr. Hallowell’s book, Driven to Distraction was very helpful to me years ago when I first read it. Learning that almost everyone with the condition are likely to self-medicate helped me to conclude what everyone around me already knew. That I had become an addict. I got clean & sober in AA and avoided all Med’s because my brain does not differentiate between pharmaceutic ally sold stimulants and ‘street-sold’ stimulants like cocaine.
    I was very excited when Strattera was introduced as the 1st non-stimulant treatment choice. With it, my memory is enhanced so dramtically! I still think faster than everyone around me but I no longer have to interrupt their speaking to say something before I forget a particular thought. I can very patiently allow another person to speak while I listen. Then, having “filed-away” my thought or idea, I can bring up when they are finished.

  3. AM

    You will never know how much Dr. Ned Hallowell helped me yesterday! It truly was a breath of fresh air for me just to hear someone understand and look at it from the Positive side! Yes I believe also it is a gift from God! My BIGGEST problem is test taking!
    Thank You for that show!
    * By Enduring We Conquer *

  4. JF

    I missed the interview w/Dr. Hallowell, but I have read Driven to Distraction. I feel I have ADD characteristics; however, a friend/teacher doesn’t think I do. Maybe it’s an auditory problem. I can’t remember what I’ve read, and have a problem focusing and paying attention. It’s getting worse with age. I’m in my early 50’s, so I don’t know how much of menopausal fuzziness is involved. Has anyone diagnosed with ADD feel this way? Thank you

  5. LKG

    I missed the conversation on public radio with Dr. Hallowell, but my friend told me about it. She came away with a better understanding of ADHD.
    I just want to say that Driven to Distraction was the book (ONLY book) that made the difference in my understanding and management of my ADHD. It appears that the tone of the interview was quite positive and focused on celebrating the upside of having ADHD
    I certainly have my struggles, but I do appreciate the other side of ADHD. I am creative and successful in most areas of my life.
    I now practice yoga and find that it supports embracing and celebrating who I am, so I spend less time dwelling on the downside of ADHD. I highly recommend it!
    And thank you, Dr. Hallowell, for articulating this condition in a way that I am sure has made a difference in many lives.

  6. Joe

    Can you comment on the work of Thom Hartman and the Hunter School he founded for ADD kids?

  7. rjs

    I have had to live with ADD, or ADHD, all of my life. I found today’s program extremely informative. I had my suspicions about stimulants having a reverse affect on me since my early 20’s when I was in the throws of drug addiction. Taking “speed” had a calming affect on my mind; hence the use of “Ritalin” on children made sense to me when first introduced as a treatment. Your mention of a mild stimulant is correct in my estimation. I have been clean and sober for 20 plus years so I would have my family doctor prescibe something for me if I would choose to try a mild stimulant.

  8. MP

    Dr. Hallowell mentions having been “lucky” that he consistently had teachers who brought out his strengths so that he ultimately could succeed at a high level. Why should our education system be organized in such a way that having such effective teachers is a matter of luck?
    In our experience, once some of our child’s teachers diagnosed ADD (NOT the case, BTW, what the several child experts we consulted), he was treated by successive teachers as uneducable, a virtual potted plant to be segregated and tolerated, but not taught and encouraged. Despite a 99th percentile score in spatial reasoning (supposedly an indicator of math/science ability and achievement), this child effectively got no math education, a deficit that is nearly impossible to recoup in lockstep education systems, and of course had major repercussions when it came to the standardized tests that are the gates to higher education. “Lucky” he and we were not.

  9. kathy

    I love the validation from someone else about how adult ADD can be a “fun and exciting thing to have.”
    Others roll their eyes when I describe things that happen in my head when I am “left alone with myself,” so to speak. An example is on my morning run one day, it had been overcast and previously rained, leaving the ground wet in the hot, southern, summer day. As the sun came out and the air got thick and moist, my brain went into OVERDRIVE and I thought about how neat it would be to be able to “see” how the moisture from the ground was evaporating off of the grass into the air and SEE how it affected the humidity of the air that I was breathing. Of course when I ask my husband what kind of things does he “think about when he is running” He says “nothing”… I feel like MY brain NEVER STOPS.
    Thank you so much for helping me realize that it is NOT A BAD THING THAT MY MIND IS ALWAYS RUNNING.

  10. James Bryant, MD

    I have had a successful medical practice. However, I was always a slow reader and this caused much of my formal education to be a struggle. As I listened to your program this morning, much of your discussion sounded like my own experience.

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