Frequently Asked Questions

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (and is the current term for what used to be known as ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder). At the Hallowell Centers we think this is an unhelpful name, as we see ADHD as a brain difference, and a source of potential incredible strengths rather than a disorder. Without diagnosis, support and treatment however, it can make life very difficult and bring many challenges.

As you learn more about ADHD, you will find out that this is a trait that affects many aspects of your, or the person you love’s, life, and we encourage you to find out all you can starting with the resources on our pages here.

The core symptoms of ADHD are excessive distractibility (hard time focusing), impulsivity (reacting too quickly without thinking), and restlessness (hard time staying still in body and/or mind). These symptoms can lead both children and adults to underachieve, whether at school, at work, or in personal relationships.

People with ADHD have many strengths – but they might not always realise that they have them, or had the opportunity to focus on them. Creativity, problem-solving tenacity, ability to empathize, energy are all gifts that often go with ADHD.

On the challenging side, people with ADHD have difficulty turning their great ideas into action and often have a track record of underachievement. They may be floundering in school or at work, but it is not because of laziness or an unwillingness to apply themselves. People with ADHD do great one hour and lousy the next, or great one day and lousy the next. Inconsistency of performance is a key symptom of ADHD. Staying put with one activity until it is done is a big challenge.

People with ADHD also have trouble with time management. They are not good at estimating in advance how long a task will take to complete and typically procrastinate, waiting until the last minute to get things done. They also have trouble with organization. Kids with ADHD tend to organize by stuffing everything into their backpacks and closets. Adults with ADHD tend to organize by putting everything into endless piles that tend to grow, rather than diminish, over time.

Get in touch. You can request an initial consultation with a New Patient Specialist free of charge. Next, find out all you can about ADHD starting with the resources on these pages.

You are not alone! There is a tremendous ADHD community to support and help you.

The Hallowell Centers are in Boston MetroWest, NYC, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Seattle. Each Center has clinicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of children, adolescents and adults with ADHD and learning challenges. These include Board Certified Physicians, Neuropsychologists, Psychologists, Coaches, Social Workers and educational specialists. The Centers all share Dr. Hallowell’s multidisciplinary, strength-based approach.

It is a problem that not enough doctors and medical professionals are knowledgeable on ADHD. Don’t despair, you will find someone to help you! First with your own doctor, print out the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria. Highlight all the ones you think apply to you and take this with you to discuss with them.

Try to find a professional who is experienced in dealing with ADHD. Contact the Department of Psychiatry at your nearest medical school. You can usually find a reliable, well-qualified professional there, and they generally take insurance. You can also reach out to the national ADHD organization, CHADD at CHADD.org, or the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, ADDA, at ADDA.org. ADDitude Magazine is another superb resource.  And of course, we at the Hallowell ADHD Centers are here for you always.

Nothing – ADD is the older term for what is now known as ADHD. ADHD is used to describe the condition both with, and without, hyperactivity. ADD  is a now outdated term that is no longer officially used. Those who do not have the “H” of hyperactivity are diagnosed as ADHD inattentive type, while those with hyperactivity have ADHD, combined type.

Indeed, people with ADHD can be calm and serene, not in the least hyperactive or disruptive. This syndrome is often found in girls and women, but it also occurs in boys and men. It is often missed, because the absence of hyperactivity leads others to assume the child or adult is simply shy, quiet or slow. In fact, they are dynamos in the making!

The diagnosis of ADHD gets missed all the time in females, as there are gender differences in ADHD symptoms. Women and girls tend not to exhibit disruptive or defiant symptoms, unlike men and boys. They may not stand out. Rather, they sit in the back of the classroom lost in their thoughts, daydreaming, quite content to be in their own world. As adults, they tend to underachieve, not due to lack of talent or hard work, but due to lack of focus and organization, the classic signs of ADHD. If they do seek help, they typically get diagnosed with depression or anxiety, because doctors tend not to think of ADHD in females. They may well have depression and anxiety, but the depression and anxiety are caused by the untreated ADHD. Treating the ADHD often fixes the anxiety and depression because the woman will feel more in control, hence less anxious, and will perform up to potential, which takes away the so-called depression.

Although we don’t know exactly what causes ADHD, we know that it tends to run in families. Like many traits of behavior and temperament, ADHD is genetically influenced, but not genetically determined. Simply put, no one actually inherits ADD, but they can inherit a proclivity for developing the symptoms of ADHD.

You can see the role of genetics at play by glancing at some basic statistics. In a random sample of children, an estimated 5 to 8 percent will have ADHD. However, if one parent has ADHD, the chances of a child developing it shoot up to about 30 percent. If both parents have ADHD, the chances leap to more than 50 percent. Keep in mind, however, that those numbers also mean that none of the children may inherit it, or that all of the children in a family may inherit it.

Over the years, we have met many families where a parent, after discovering their child has ADHD, recalls experiencing similar symptoms and learns that they, too, have ADHD. This usually results in a sense of great relief for the parent, who at last has an explanation for why things may have been so difficult for them. It also can help forge a stronger connection between the parent and child.. We work with individuals and their families to help them overcome their challenges so they can all  achieve their dreams.

FIrst, do check your insurance carefully if you have any kind of insurance. Increasing numbers of insurance providers are covering ADHD these days.

If you cannot get to a professional, learn as much as you can about ADHD. Read books. Delivered from Distraction by Dr. Hallowell is a good place to start, with lots of practical tips and lifestyle changes you can make. ADDitude magazine also has lots of excellent articles many of which are free online, as well as regular free webinars. Go online, read articles and magazines, join facebook groups for adults with ADHD or for parents of children with ADHD. Watch YouTube videos such as How to ADHD by Jessica McCabe, and listen to podcasts such as Dr. Hallowell’s Distraction.

Read, watch, listen – check out our resource pages with information in the format you prefer.

Try joining an Adult or Parent support group in your area, or online you could join a Facebook group or find your local CHADD group – the national non-profit supporting adults and children with ADHD. There are groups for adults with ADHD, for women-only, for parents of children with ADHD and for spouses or partners.

At the Hallowell Centers we have excellent coaches for both adults and children, and for all areas where you might need support. Check them out on our Meet the Teams page. You can also go to ADDCA.com the ADHD Coach Academy for a national resource list of qualified coaches for a range of budgets.

No. You do not have to take medication. However, for 80% of people with ADHD medication is effective. For 20% of people it is not.

At the Hallowell ADHD Centers we have a comprehensive approach that addresses the totality of the child or adult who comes to us for help. The four key areas for effective treatment are learning as much as you can about ADHD and how it presents in you or the person you love; lifestyle changes including sleep, nutrition and exercise; coaching; and medication where that is effective.

Beyond that, we look at the milieu or system in which the individual lives and try to determine the best school, or the best job, or the best camp, or the best living situation, again always with the goal in mind of promoting talents and strengths. You can find out more on our Services page.

Before meeting with the clinician who is doing your evaluation, we will ask you to fill out a number of rating scales that helps determine what is going on with you. For children we ask parents and teachers, in addition to the child, to fill out the rating scales. You will then meet with your assigned clinician for 2 hours if this is a child evaluation and 90 minutes if it is an adult evaluation. For both child and adult evaluations, you will return at an agreed upon time for a follow up feedback session.

No. You do not have to tell your school or employer. However, it can be a helpful step where you might benefit from accommodations, particularly in the school context. Most educational institutions should have a resource person or special education expert who can discuss the needs of the student, and what support or accommodations might be helpful.

At work, as unfortunately stigma and misunderstandings around ADHD still exist, it is best to think carefully about who you might discuss your ADHD diagnosis with, and what you might wish to request support with. Talk it through with your ADHD therapist or coach before you have the conversation with your employer. You can always talk about target symptoms such as trouble with time management or focusing on detail without using the term ADHD. Sadly, if you state that you have ADHD too many people, who ought to know better, will think this means you are unreliable, ditsy, unprofessional, and in general not someone you’d want to hire or promote. That the direct opposite is true is the reason Dr. Hallowell has spent the past 40 years trying to bring the good and correct news about ADHD to the world.

You can request a Clinical Evaluation and Diagnosis from us wherever you live – if you are outside of one the states where we practice, we will help refer you to an appropriate doctor for treatment and support after your diagnosis if needed. If you are looking for a second opinion following a diagnosis elsewhere, we can also assist you with this. If you have a specific question please email inquiry@hallowellcenter.org

You can request a Clinical Evaluation and Diagnosis from us wherever you live.  After your diagnosis you would need to then have treatment and support within your own country, and we can supply our evaluation for you to take to your physician. If you are looking for a second opinion following a diagnosis elsewhere, we can also assist you with this. If you have a specific question please email  inquiry@hallowellcenter.org

You can also go online and search for National Non-profit support groups or resource centers for ADHD in your country. Many online support groups such as Facebook Adult ADHD groups are international, and you may find members and information about your own country’s ADHD resources.