The Big Struggle – ADHD and Family Dynamics

What often develops in families where one child has ADHD (or one adult for that matter) is what I call the Big Struggle. The child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) chronically fails:

  • to meet obligations,
  • do chores,
  • stay up with schoolwork,
  • keep to family schedules.
  • get out of bed on time,
  • arrive home on time,
  • be ready to leave the house on time,
  • keep his or her room tidied and,
  • doesn’t cooperatively participate in family life, and, in general,
  • “get with the program” at home

What Happens When A Child Doesn’t Cooperate?

The behavior described above leads to the big struggle.  The parents set chronic limits with increasingly stringent penalties and increasingly tight limitations on the child. This, in turn, makes the child more defiant, less cooperative, and more alienated. As a result, the parents feel more exasperated with what increasingly appears to be an attitude problem, under voluntary control, rather than the neurological problem of ADHD.

As parents become more fed up with the child’s behavior, they become less sympathetic to whatever excuses or explanations the child may offer. Furthermore, they’re less willing to believe in promises to do better.  This leads to stricter consequences in a usually futile effort to control the child’s behavior. Gradually, the child’s role in the family solidified around being the “problem child.” Consequently, he or she becomes the designated scapegoat for all the family’s conflicts and problems.

The Designated Scapegoat

There’s an old saying about scapegoating that the process requires a mob and a volunteer. In the case of the Big Struggle, the family forms the mob, and the ADHD behavior volunteers the child. Virtually anything that goes wrong in the family gets blamed on the ADHD child. Over time the child is draped with a kind of blanket of derision and scorn that smothers his or her development of confidence and self-esteem.

Quashing the Big Struggle takes work – work on a daily basis. Like weeds, it will come back if allowed to.

Here are some tips on quashing the big struggle:

  1. Get an accurate diagnosis. This is the starting point of all treatment for ADHD.
  2. Educate the family. All members of the family need to learn the facts about ADHD. This is the first step in the treatment. Many problems will take care of themselves once all family members understand what is going on. The education process should take place with the entire family, if possible. Each member of the family will have questions. Make sure all these questions get answered.
  3. Try to change the family “reputation” of the person with ADHD. If you are expected to screw up, you probably will. While if you are expected to succeed, you just might. It may be hard to believe at first, but having ADHD can be more of a gift than a curse.
  4. Make it clear that ADHD is nobody’s fault. First of all, it is not Mom’s or Dad’s fault. Furthermore, it is not brother’s, sister’s or the grandparents fault. Finally, it is not the fault of the person who has ADHD. It is nobody’s fault.  This is extremely important for the whole family to understand.
  5. Give everyone in the family a chance to be heard. ADHD affects everyone in the family; some silently. Try to let those who are in silence speak.
  6. Try to break the negative process and turn it into a positive one. Applaud and encourage success when it happens. Try to get everyone pointed toward positive goals, rather than gloomily assuming the inevitability of negative outcomes.
  7. Make it clear who is responsible for what in the family. Everybody needs to know what is expected of him or her. Everybody needs to know what the rules are and what the consequences are.

Learn more about balancing ADHD and the family, finding professional support, and how separating the person from the problem can help your family dynamic in my ADDitude article on: Make It A Family Affair.


Race and Privilege

In this Distraction episode on Race and Privilege, I discuss the attack and murder of George Floyd and racism. I also acknowledge I am a privileged white man. Certainly a part of the problem. Even though I like to think I’m not part of the problem, but part of the solution, Yet, I have without doubt in unconscious ways, continued the problem. So I ask:

“What can we do about it?”

Listen Now



I’m resolving to do everything I can moving forward in my own life, to rectify the situation. To build as many bridges as I can. I hope you will join me in reaching out and building bridges. Let’s get to know one another. Let’s have a little dialogue so we can understand what needs to be done.  Together we can turn the terrible murder of George Floyd into something redeeming, enlightening, uplifting and transforming.  Please join me in reaching out and building bridges.

Read the article referred to in this episode: A conversation: Retired African American MLB players on race, baseball, America

Read my blog on Hope Up’s about our responsibility to listen, learn and take action.

Talking to Your Children About Racism

It is critically important that we talk to our children about racism, the death of George Floyd, race and privilege, and the protests and violence that have spread across the country. Read these articles on:

Want to help?

Support the Black Lives Matter Movement with a donation to one of the organizations below:

The Racial Inequity of ADHD Treatment

Evidence shows that people of color — Black and Latino in particular — are much less likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) even though they show symptoms at the same rate as white people. Furthermore, when a person isn’t diagnosed, he isn’t as likely to receive the treatment that can change the arc of his life. Treatment to help him manage everything from schoolwork to relationships to career. Certainly these are critical areas where people of color often face already-strong disadvantages. Learn why this is happening and what needs to be done to fix it in this ADDitude Magazine article on Children Left Behind.

ADHD Students and Remote Learning

Many students with ADHD or other learning challenges struggle in the classroom. With the sudden shift to remote learning, ADHD students face the additional challenge of classroom instruction in the home environment. Distractions at home and the presence of parents, siblings, or guardians pose increased difficulties.  However, by tapping into the strengths of children with ADHD, Dr. Hallowell shows how teachers can find ways to support these children and accomplish everyone’s learning goals.

In his webinar on Supporting Students with ADHD During Remote Learning, Dr. Hallowell reviews how ADHD affects academic achievement. He also offers suggestions on the best practices and strategies for schools to use to promote creativity and achievement.

Dr. Hallowell also addresses remote learning in his podcast, How One Teacher is Streamlining Digital Learning.  In this episode, he shares some of what he learned in a recent conversation with Tasha Otenti, a teacher at Milton Academy in Massachusetts. Now that distance learning is the new normal for students and teachers are making big adjustments to meet their needs, they discuss how she’s adapted her teaching style to accommodate distance learning.

ADHD and Students

Dr. Hallowell has worked with children and adults who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) since he was diagnosed with ADHD himself back in 1981.  Learning about ADHD and educating the general public has been one of his life’s major missions. Teachers have always been one of his favorite audiences because teachers saved him from what could have been a disastrous outcome when he was growing up.  So he knows firsthand the enormous power that teachers wield to change lives dramatically for the better.

He also knows that teachers devote countless hours ensuring that lesson instructions are designed to meet the needs of each child. However, the needs of students with ADHD often do not fit neatly into recognized learning styles. Yet, many teachers have not been professionally trained to recognize or address these specific needs.

How Mining Magnificent Minds (MMM) – ADHD for Teachers Can Help

Dr. Hallowell created Mining Magnificent Minds to provide teachers with all they really need to know to bring out the best in every student who has ADHD.  MMM is a series of original, online videos intended to deepen educators’ understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; sharpen their skills for working with students with ADHD; and provide them with the tools to “unwrap the gifts” that lie inherent of every child.  This program is also a helpful tool for parents.  

Click here to watch the Module#1 and learn more.

Learn more about MMM HERE.

Then if you’d like to purchase MMM, use this LINK TO PURCHASE all 10 videos at a special $15 discount for Dr. Hallowell’s subscribers. ($49.95 less $15 = $34.95)

NOTE: You’ll receive an email with a link to download all videos within 24 hours of purchasing.

Learn about managing ADHD in the classroom with Dr. Hallowell’s 10 tips HERE. 

If you’d like to have Dr. Hallowell speak at your school, learn more HERE.

How to Reconnect in a Disconnected World

Reconnecting Disconnected WorldDuring this time of physical distancing, loneliness and isolation, Dr. Hallowell addresses “How to Reconnect in a Disconnected World.”  Whether you’re learning how to work from home in a job that has always relied on face-to-face interactions, helping your children with their schoolwork with technology limitations, or trying to juggle the basics of life within the new rules of COVID-19, we live in a time of immense stress and worry. Dr. Hallowell is here to help.

In this YouTube video created by the Outspoken Agency NYC team, Dr. Hallowell also discusses worry and toxic worry. He says, “If you don’t worry at all, that’s call denial.” He’ll also share practical and effective tools to eliminate toxic worry and instill structure and confidence into your daily lives.

Physical Distancing and The Other Vitamin C

Dr. Hallowell discusses why we all need to take a dose of the other Vitamin C: Vitamin Connect through creative means while physical distancing. (Dr. Hallowell prefers the term “physical distancing” instead of social distancing.) If you don’t get enough vitamin connect, you do get sick. Studies show that social isolation is as dangerous for your health as cigarette smoking.

Learn practical tips on:

  • how to maintain your connections with others during these times;
  • ways to reconnect with others; i.e., friends, clients, make up with that relative, etc.;
  • keeping yourself and your children focused and productive while working; remotely; and,
  • specific steps on how to manage anxiety and stress.

Dr. Hallowell will help you better manage your merged environments of work and home and feel more confident in tackling the challenges you’re facing right now.

Click here to WATCH NOW!

For more information on hiring Dr. Hallowell to speak at your virtual or live event, learn more at:

Connection is like the keys in the ignition. The keys are there, waiting to be taken. We only have to reach in.”

What to know more about harnessing the power of connections? Click HERE!


ADHD: Negative and Positive Traits

ADHDAlthough I’m known for talking about the advantages of having ADHD, in my YouTube video on ADHD: Negative and Positive Traits, I acknowledge the flip side of the trait.

As one of my patients recently said to me “ADHD Sucks.” Consequently, I understand why someone with ADHD could get mad at me for having the temerity to say, “having ADHD is actually a good thing.” Even more so  when they’re dealing with the negative traits.

In this video on the Negative and Positive Traits of ADHD, you’ll learn:

  • about the negative traits and how having ADHD can negatively affect your life;
  • its positive traits;
  • advice on what you can do about it; and
  • the importance of accepting who you are.


ADHD DiagnosisFor a perspective on why “An ADHD Diagnosis is Good News,” listen to my Distraction podcast on the topic. You’ll learn why good things can happen when you get diagnosed with ADHD.
Pediatric neurologist and ADHD expert, Sarah Cheyette MD joins me in this episode. We talk about how learning you have the condition can be life changing.


For those of us who have  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) anger is common and can be a big problem.  Now is a particularly tough time for people with ADHD. Especially since people with ADHD don’t like being told what to do. As a result, having to “shelter-in-place” because of Covid-19 causes us to feel “fenced in.” This sets us “ADDers” up to be unusually prone to anger. Click HERE to learn about ADHD and Anger.

If you think you have ADHD, but haven’t been diagnosed, learn about ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment – What You Should Know. 

Tired? Sad? On Edge?

Now that the novelty of living life in a pandemic has worn off,  we’re finding ourselves feeling more tired, sad and on-edge. Likewise, it may seem strange to be so exhausted after doing “nothing” all day, but it’s totally normal under these circumstances.

In this Distraction podcast on: “The Side Effects of Our New Normal,” Dr. Hallowell opens up about how fatigued he’s been feeling lately. He asks listeners to do the same. One of the reasons he cites for feeling so tired is a lack of Vitamin Connect – the other vitamin C.

This is a great Distraction episode on the side effects of social distancing. You’ll also learn the importance of why we need to stay virtually connected even during quarantine.

Click here to LISTEN.

We will all get through this together! Let us know how you’re holding up. Share your thoughts with Dr. Hallowell at Distracting by sending an email or voice memo to

If you’re feeling stressed out, worried, preoccupied, and otherwise twitched and bewitched by what my friend Ken Duckworth calls “The Thing”, read my blog post on The Force of Each Other.


For those of us who have  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) anger is common and can be a big problem.  Now is a particularly tough time for people with ADHD. People with ADHD don’t like being told what to do. So having to “shelter-in-place” because of Covid-19 and feeling “fenced in” sets us up to be unusually prone to anger.

Instead of waiting for the situation to arise in which you get angry and perhaps become destructive, try developing strategies for dealing with your anger in advance.  Try working on ways to reduce the anger and frustration you carry around with you.

These methods might include:

  • Frequent exercise to work off stress
  • Control of substance use so that you do not lower your level of self-control with drugs like alcohol or cocaine.
  • Regular practice of meditation or prayer.
  • Getting a reasonable amount of sleep every night.
  • Psychotherapy or coaching to learn how to put feelings into words instead of action

Of course, anger can get the better of everyone from time to time, whether you have ADHD or not. When anger gets the best of you, however,  accept the human inevitability of messing up and do not let the sinking feeling of here-we-go-again devastate you.  Instead, learn from the experience and say,  “I messed up. I apologize. Let me make it right.”

ADHD and AngerIn this YouTube Video on ADHD and Anger, I discuss how to identify and watch out for your triggers and why now is a particularly tough time for people with ADHD.  You’ll also learn how to manage your expectations, reign in your tendency to loose control and why it’s important to connect with others.



COVID-19 Update HALLOWELL Boston MetroWest


COVID-19 Update – On behalf of all of us here at the Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest, located on Rt. 117 in Sudbury, I want you all to know we are open and fully operational during this pandemic.

Of course, to do this, we’ve had to make some changes. We are “seeing” our patients via Zoom or other virtual platform, or over the telephone. We prefer the virtual platforms as they allow for a deeper connection than the telephone, but if the telephone is all you’ve got, that’s fine.


We welcome new patients during this time. We have more flexibility than ever and can accommodate you or your child quickly. Refusing to let the virus prevent us from serving you, we are able to do a full diagnostic assessment of children and adults via Zoom or other platform, without asking the patient to leave home.

If you wish to learn more about becoming a new patient, just send us an email to: or fill out the form at the bottom of the page. We’re eager to hear from you and share with you our unique strength-based approach. At the Hallowell Center, we don’t treat disorders or disabilities; we help people of all ages unwrap their gifts!


If testing is deemed necessary, our neuropsychologists follow the full CDC COVID-19 safety protocols for in-person testing, including providing masks if you do not have one. Now would be an opportune time to schedule Neuropsychological Testing for your child. A neuropsychological assessment can help you understand your child’s needs, how much progress he or she has made, and how best to help them learn and make progress over the next 4 months so they are ready for the new school year.

We also test grown-up children, aka, adults. Adults can learn a great deal from a neuropsychological assessment. It’s the closest thing there is to an MRI of your mind, and is especially enlightening in the world of ADHD.

NOTE: Intakes, interviews and feedbacks can be conducted via phone (remotely) and then the in-person testing would be conducted on an extremely efficient basis to minimize time at the center.


As for prescriptions, we mail them out so you need not come to the office to get them, and we offer remote follow-up on questions regarding all medications.

If you need a prescription or a prior authorization when required, please contact the office at 978-287-0810. Our wonderful office manager, Ellen D’Ambrosia, who is both an RN and an MSW, will assist you in getting exactly what you need. Even the people who are paid to deny services, the minions of the insurance companies, (with the exception of Dr. Ken Duckworth, Medical Director of Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, who has moved mountains to reduce bureaucratic red tape and eliminated the dreaded prior authorization), say Ellen is the best in the business and are always trying to hire her away from us!


All our services will be provided remotely for the foreseeable future. Each of our clinicians is geared up to work with clients through virtual platforms, or even just the telephone, although having a visual does enhance the experience.

Learn more about Teletherapy HERE.

Call our office to get instructions to arrange a Teletherapy session.

To reach our front desk to schedule testing, a virtual appointment, change an appointment, request a prescription or get other help or information, please call us at: 978-287-0810.

You may also email your request to: or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.


It’s been said before, but let me say it again: we’re in this together. Together we shall prevail, but not without, sadly, tragedy, pain, and loss.

Being in the tragedy-pain-sadness-and-loss business, we want you to know we are here, ready to listen to you carefully, and respond with whatever assistance and wisdom we can.

Human connection is our core value, knowledge and empathy our main tools. We hope you will visit us via Zoom in the days ahead, and that you will feel the positive energy that emanates from us all when we band together.

Warm Regards,

Edward (NED) Hallowell, M.D., Founder
The Hallowell Center


Massachusetts Department of Public Health – COVID-19 UPDATE

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

Parenting in a Pandemic

“Parents of children with ADHD we are thinking of you! Dr. Hallowell offers five ways to help you manage your kids while quarantined. These are simple things everyone can employ– like having set breakfast, lunch and dinner times. Furthermore, they’ll work even if your kids don’t have ADHD.  LISTEN NOW!

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If You Are Desperate…

Feeling DesperateIf you are feeling desperate, down, or full of pain right now, Dr. Hallowell shares in his podcast, some words of comfort with you through a “letter” he wrote a few years ago, after experiencing his own feelings of desperation.

You can LISTEN HERE or you can read his letter below:


Take my hand. If you are desperate, just take my hand. You don’t have to believe anything, just take my hand. Listen.

It will all work out. It has before. It will again. It will all work out. It always has. It will again.

Whatever it is that has you feeling desperate, it will pass. Nothing lasts as it is. Everything subsides. Even pain. Especially pain.

Stay with me. Take my hand. That’s what I need when I am desperate, and I’ve had serious moments of desperation in my life, more than a few.

Take my hand. Please stay with me. We are in this life together.

All of us. Has someone betrayed you or threatened you? That happened to me, once really badly. I forgave the person only to have that person betray me again. I know. . . fool me once. . .

Have you done something that’s gotten you into trouble? Who hasn’t!

Are you desperately worried about someone you love? That’s especially hard, because you have so little control.

Whatever your situation, you do have me, this voice, at least right now. You also have everyone else in the world, it’s just pretty hard to feel their presence sometimes. Pain isolates us. But everyone else is out there, in some way pumping positive energy your way. One day science will prove exactly how. They’re all there and they’re with us from the afterworld, too, at least if you ask my opinion, but that’s a totally different topic. Now you don’t need opinions, you need real comfort and reliable relief.

Things will get better. Take that to the bank.

You sure don’t need theories or slogans. I Googled “feeling desperate” and got a lot of sites with solutions (usually for a fee, once you entered and scrolled down a bit), Biblical citations, and literary references to books like The Little Prince or Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Those books are wonderful fables, but you need something more immediate right now.

Like a guarantee. Who doesn’t love a guarantee? I can guarantee you, if you hang in there, things will get better.

Pain passes. Humiliation passes. Loss passes. Death takes, and then subsides. Betrayal passes.

If I knew exactly what was bothering you, maybe I could offer better help. But maybe I don’t need to know, because feeling desperate, at its core, is pretty much the same regardless of the cause.

I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere. Things will get better. Just hang in there.

Get angry at me if you’d like to. When I feel desperate, I often get angry at the people who tell me things will get better. How could they possibly know? It makes me mad.

But it’s also what I want to hear because it’s what I want to believe.

Life is so hard. For us all. The good thing is it’s not hardest on all of us at the same time. So when one of us is more or less ok, we can help offer hope to those who are in the depths. It’s how we get each other through.

The Key Is Each Other

Each other. See, we’re the key. That’s not a theory, it’s a fact. You know it, I know it.

We’ve all been in the depths. If you’re there now, I can tell you, I’ve been there, too. Now, I have your hand. Maybe then, you had mine. So we can’t be all that far apart, if you get what I mean.

Being human keeps us close. We all have to play by the same rotten rules. Age, suffer, and die. Lose everyone and everything.

Maybe not everything. As long as someone has hope, there is hope. And as long as there is hope, desperation will subside.


Please allow for hope. Don’t block it out. It will come if you don’t block it out.

When I’m desperate, the worst moments are when hope, all of a sudden, vanishes, and all I can see are the very worst outcomes. It’s like a cloud blocks out the sun and my world just goes dark. It’s just a feeling that overcomes me, with no warning, in periods when I am living in fear, sorrow, or danger. My world goes dark.

But, sooner or later, the cloud does move on, thank God, and the sun, such as it is, returns. I say “such as it is” because in those periods even the sun doesn’t restore me completely.

It’s a cliché, but still it’s true: life is all ups and downs. Thank God the downs don’t last forever, and I guess it’s just as well the ups don’t either.

If you’re in a down, please let me be with you. Think of me, a person you don’t know, talking to you right now, a person who’s been very down, but who, right now at least, has hope. Think of me just trying to get next to you in spirit to pump in some of the hope you don’t feel right now.

Hope is a potent force. When I’m desperate what I need more than anything is hope. Desperate basically means out of hope. Full of fear, but no hope.

Take my hand.

Now let me transfuse some of my hope into you. Just hold tight, it comes through naturally, just like it did when you gave it to me, back when.

Even if you can’t hold my physical hand, which you can’t of course because you are reading this and you don’t know me from Adam, even so you can still feel as if you were holding my hand through my words. These are words of hope.

They are hard earned words. I won’t tell you all the troubles I’ve seen, but I’ve seen many, and I’ve been places where I felt nothing but fear, where I felt no hope at all.

Let me hold you now. It will work out. It always has. It always will.

If you are  feeling tired, sad or on edge, listen to Dr. Hallowell’s podcast on “The Side Effects of the New Normal.”

Read Dr. Hallowell’s Blog post on “Managing Toxic Worry.”

Therapy in the Age of Quarantine

At the Hallowell Centers, this damn virus is teaching us a whole new strategy for offering help, and it works like a charm. Thanks to online platforms, in the “Age of Quarantine” we are offering therapy.  We can “see” people remotely, and we’re discovering remote doesn’t feel remote at all. It feels almost like we’re in the same room, but there’s no risk of spreading infection.

Plus, no need to leave home, fight traffic, or park for your therapy session. Just pull up a chair, get a cold drink or a coffee, and sit down in front of your screen and see ME! Or any of the many other clinicians who remain ready from their homes to see YOU. The same services we’re so known for, only done from your home to one of our homes. And once this blasted virus goes away, I believe this new way of offering help will be be here to stay.

Remember my #1 rule “Never Worry Alone.” If you need help managing your mental health during these uncertain times, the Hallowell Centers can help you. Even if you are not a regular client or patient of ours and you’d simply like to have an appointment to check up on your mental health during Covid-19, we’re here to help. Just reach out to the any of The Hallowell Centers to set up an appointment.


The pandemic is affecting the mental health and well being of adults and children. You’re daily routines have been changed and you find yourself grappling with anger, moodiness, and anxiety. Covid-19 is taking a toll on your emotional health and maybe even your relationships. At The Hallowell Centers, our clinicians can offer emotional and social support and provide the tools to help you deal with what you’re going through.

Here is a list of remote services offered remotely by the:

Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Adults and Children (CBT) is an evidence based treatment for anxiety and we have clinicians who can help you.

If you’re struggling with organizing and managing your work or school load, we have coaches who can help. Getting started is easy.  To inquire about scheduling a remote therapy session, contact the Hallowell Center of your choice.


Anxiety and Attention Issues: (for 12 – 25 year olds) – Dr Alisa Powers and Lisa Cornelio (MSW) are offering group and individual teletherapy for 12-25 year olds who may be struggling with attention or anxiety issues as well as any other challenges coming up at this time.



Parenting in a PandemicParenting in a Pandemic
Dates TBD
This group session presented by Marcia Hochman, LMSW, MPA, will provide parents tips and strategies to reduce fear, anxiety and avoid information overload.


Parenting SupportOVERWHELMED? Parents are experiencing a great deal of stress and emotions right now in this current crisis. You’re trying to manage your own emotional rollercoaster of fear, loss, hope, and frustration while responding to all of your child’s emotions, too. If you are finding your own “cup” empty from filling up everyone else’s, you need support.


Support Group TeenagersFor Teenagers

Claire Golden, offering a four-week group session for teenagers to connect with other teens for a weekly progress/check in. In her group, you’ll discuss common problems, trouble-shoot with each other, and provide external support and pressure to get those assignments done! Date/Time TBD.
Likewise, individual coaching sessions for teenagers struggling to manage the online learning environment are available with Dr. Golden.


Entrepreneur WorkingCoreFour Coaching for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of our economy, yet the failure rate for new businesses is over 80%!  CoreFour Coaching with Rebecca Shafir helps entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs defy the startup failure rate by strengthening four core skills and routines

Support Groups For Professionals

Are Zoom meetings making it hard to be productive during the day? Do you find yourself struggling to stay on task while working from home? If you answered yes, join our support group for professionals with Claire Golden, Ph.D and connect with other professionals who are new to working from home! Individual Coaching Sessions for Adults / Professionals are also available with Dr. Golden.