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Unlocking the Potential in ADHD Adults

Sunday, October 27, 2013
A Critique by Dr Harold Levinson

Dr. Edward Hallowell, having ADHD and dyslexia himself, has provided readers with excellent insights into ADHD in both children and adults. However, as a gifted Harvard graduate, he appears to be following a current trend of pseudo-encouragement by telling his young "ADHD" patients they are lucky to have “Ferrari engines” for brains, but are unfortunate to only have “bicycle brakes.” Whereas encouragement is vital, false hopes are too often counterproductive, thus leading to false expectations, failure to meet fantasied expectations, and intensified self- blame. Just ask a majority of experts and non gifted patients. Fortunately, the vast majority of non-gifted can also be helped by Dr Hallowell and others, provided they are realistically and expertly understood and treated.

Although the article deals with ADHD adults, it should be emphasized that testing, tutoring and diagnostic/therapies emphasized by Hallowell for children are not realistic for failing adults. Adults are impatient for results, usually have difficulty functioning at work and home, and so their anxiety, depressive, marriage, parental, economic and stress issues are significantly more complex and urgent than those of children. Thus medical treatment is often required first, rather than last as Hallowell suggests for children.

Like a majority of individuals akin to Hallowell himself, both ADHD and dyslexia occur together. Both must be treated holistically and simultaneously for best outcomes. However, the recent interest in ADHD appears to have negated and overshadowed the need to similarly understand and successfully treat their dyslexia. Needless to say, these two disorders interface and complicate one another. Additionally, anxiety and depression also coexist with ADHD and dyslexia in children, and more so in adults. Tragically, the joke that dyslexics often can't handle two tasks at once applies to scientists and clinicians. The latter too often appear unable to understanding and holistically treat all the above and more interconnected "comorbid" disorders holistically per individual in their care.