I often get asked personal questions about how I came to write my books. Here is a recent series of a questions and answers from a reader. If you have any questions I often use them for future writing projects, feel free to email me at email@example.com
What made you start to study and write about ADHD?
My brother was diagnosed with ADHD 40 years ago before it was a popular diagnosis. It is something I grew up with and later discovered I too had ADHD. When I was in graduate school I was working as both a therapist and teaching undergraduate classes. I noticed that the ADHD students were my favorite students even though they did not get good grades. I realized that they were more interested in exploring, testing and creating ideas rather than memorizing facts. I learned a lot from ADHD students. In fact, the book The Gift of ADHD evolved out of a research project with a student in my Abnormal Psychology class who had ADHD.
Was there anything that happened in your life that inspired you to study ADHD?
I have ADHD myself, and noticed people responded in two different ways --- my family growing up just laughed at a lot of the qualities. For example, on occasion I get distracted even when I am parking a car, so I am one of those people who gets lots of mean notes left under my windshield wiper. When my family sees a bad parking job they laugh at me and think it’s funny. I once got two parking tickets in San Francisco because the meter had run out on both of the parking spots I parked across. I think that says as much about the meter maids in San Francisco as it says about me. You could say that not only do I draw outside the lines, I park outside the lines. This is a fairly trivial example but multiply that times 50 each day, and the way people respond can lead to either massive self-doubt and depression or self-acceptance maybe even humor.
Did you create the activities in your book or did you get them from another peer?
I create all the activities in my books. I don't meet my clients with a theory, a diagnosis or a new technique to try out. I meet my clients with the attitude that I don't understand them because they are entirely original unrepeatable completely unique creatures. I bring my emotional sensitivity, intuition and my exceptional training to each encounter and many times what emerges is an innovation and a new approach to a new problem.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions of ADHD that cause the biggest problems in creating invalid or negative thoughts about ADHD?
The biggest misconception is that because it creates a problem in the school systems, it creates problems everywhere. In the real world the same "symptoms" of ADHD can create success. In many ways the intense fear of mistakes created in education systems cripples students for the real world - what is creativity and innovation other than a willingness to make mistakes? My book The Gift of Adult ADD profiles many successful adults who achieved their success not in spite of ADHD but because of the very same qualities that lead to a diagnosis of ADHD.
ADHD is a gift, I have no doubt about it. Those gifts include emotional sensitivity, intuition, creativity, exuberance and a felt connection to nature and many more. We live in a world where being able to get the right answer at the back of the book becomes less and less relevant whereas the gifts of ADHD are becoming more and more relevant.
My books have been out for 10 years now and recently a client said to me “I was diagnosed with ADHD back when people thought it was only a disorder so I still believe that sometimes.” I was immensely gratified that the “adding insult to injury” model is viewed as outdated but heartbroken at the toll it continues to take. Many people mistake my approach as saying that ADHD is not an impairment which is not true. It is a real brain difference that creates problems in environments particularly current educational settings.
Another misconception is just outdated science. Emerging research on neuroplasticity tells us that the brain can change. Neuroplasticity changes everything.
ADHD Stories are usually “down and out” stories. We hear about kids whose brains are messed up and adults whose lives are messed up. These ADHD stories that include the theme “My ADHD made me do it” are soon to be outdated. The old ADHD story goes like this: My brain is broken, it has ADHD and therefore I can expect to have lots of problems. The new ADHD story goes like this: My brain has a difference called ADHD and we now know that we can change the brain, so if I need to I will work hard to increase my brain’s capacity. Neuroplasticity is a recent scientific breakthrough that shows us that we can change our brain by what we do and how hard we exert ourselves.
Even now we hear ADHD stories in which a child who has the diagnosis is told that the harder he tries the more he grows his brain. This increases his motivation. He is highly motivated and works hard, he thinks of himself as a brain athlete and indeed he does change his brain and goes onto lots of success. No longer will we tell kids their brain is broken, so they think “why try?” and lose their motivation. Because they stop trying they begin to fail and they lose self-esteem and the opportunity to grow their brain. Imagine the difference between telling a child that has a brain disorder compared to telling him that he can be a brain athlete and can re-wire his own brain if he works hard enough. If you tell your child a different story, you will get a different outcome. Sometimes we think of stories as reflecting reality or even misrepresenting reality (i.e. “he’s just telling stories.) We are learning that the stories we tell can create reality. It’s time for the discovery of neuroplasticity to be the major theme in our ADHD stories.
"The Gift Of ADHD” is brilliant, soulful, and insightful. Thank you for writing it!"
- Benny Rietveld - Grammy-winning bass player and Musical Director for Santana
"Dr. Lara Honos-Webb shows us how the demands of a global and digital culture may make the signature traits of ADD – inventiveness, need for stimulation, and interpersonal intuition – in high demand."
- Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind
"This book will encourage your brain and your soul. Honos-Webb will show you how to find the promise in attention deficit disorder (ADD) and powerful tools for managing the pitfalls."
- Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder and director of Amen Clinics and author of Healing ADD
"I just wanted say that I read your book of "The gift of ADD for Adults" which made a very positive impact on my life so I can move forward."
- Andy Doucette
"I wanted to thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You have given me a different perspective of my chaotic world by helping me identify the singular obstacle that has been a roadblock for me achieving my potential successes: myself."
- Sandra, San Francisco
"I want to thank you from the deepest parts of my soul. Your perspectives and insights on ADD communicated to me a sense of home. A feeling that all of those pieces of me that always felt disconnected with the world may have had a purpose and commonalities with others after all."
- John Emerson
"I can't explain just how well targeted your instruction was for me. You helped me to forgive and understand myself. You gave me permission to be handicapped without compromising my potential. Seriously . . . I can't thank you enough for changing my perspective.Just an update. Working out again, think I have a job, have stopped caring what others think. It's ok to be me."
- Doug R.
"Thanks Lara. Your suggestions today were so good and have really paved the way for this thing to get done in time and with great quality. You're one hell of a coach! You see things that are right in front of my face, but I can't see to save my life."
- Jack R.
"The Gift Of ADHD" is brilliant, soulful, and insightful. Thank you for writing it!"- Benny Rietveld @bennyrietveld - Grammy-winning bass player and Musical Director for SantanaResponsive Therapy is like an All-Star sports team compared to an average local team. An All-Star team selects the best players from each local team and optimizes the benefits of each position that needs to be covered.Responsive therapy means that rather than defining my treatment by a special name brand (Cogntive-Behavioral Threrapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy, Existential Therapy, Mindfulness Based Therapy, plus 400 more name brands), I use the right techniques from the right treatment at the right time for the right client.I have published dozens of scholarly articles on how I know what to do when. I will be responsive in 4 different time frames1. Treatment Assignment2. Treatment Strategies3. Treatment Techniques4. Moment-to-Moment ResponsivenessFor a partial list of my publications check out Research Gatehttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lara_Honos-Webb/contributions
Experts in ADHD
Experts in ADHD
When you are lost in the sea of ADHD information -- you may want to consider what your definition of expert is. Many ADHD coaches have little or no clinical training. Many experts have financial ties to industry. I spent 6 years getting a Ph.D., 2 years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California San Francisco and 4 years as tenure-track assistant professor. I specialize in ADHD.
Most psychologists don't specialize in any disorder. They often use one treatment approach to treat many disorders. Just as medical doctors specialize, I have chosen to specialize in ADHD and Depression. I also use tools from many treatment approaches to solve these specific problems in contrast to therapists who use one theory and limited set of tools to treat all or most disorders. Many therapists define themselves by their treatment approach rather than the disorder they specialize in. For example, you may find a psychodynamic therapist, or a cognitive-behavioral therapist who treats most disorders with their treatment approach.
COMPREHENSIVE TREATMENT FOR FAMILIES
If your child has ADHD, I work with the whole family. My treatment package includes 12 sessions for the entire family. I meet with the whole family at the beginning and end of each session for parent coaching and family therapy. I meet with the child for 40 minutes between the family meetings for traditional play therapy and "work" therapy which includes one-on-one coaching, building emotional intelligence, stress management and finding and focusing on a child's gifts.
I work with students to challenge self-defeating beliefs (for example, “I can’t study very long”) and to build confidence through defining oneself by strengths. I call this pushing back against your “can’ts”. I educate families and students about neuroplasticity and the idea that the harder you work the more you can change your brain. I help increase motivation to do well through focusing on the students own goals and building their confidence to achieve those goals.
I help develop specific strategies to increase chances of success such as 15 minutes a day of planning, teaching students to call distractions out for what they are --- self-defeating i.e. “when I play video games before I finish my homework I am shooting myself in the foot”.
I work with the family to reduce expression of criticism and to shift to more empathic responses. When parents reflect a child’s emotional experience rather than try to rescue them, they help the child build emotional intelligence. I help families get accommodations and to find systems that can support the child and family. I help build motivation for academic success by emphasizing student’s personal goals and increasing their confidence they can meet those goals by strength based work I do, which involves reviewing past successes and enduring personal qualities that led to those successes.
- Improved motivation, drive and persistence
- Improved family communication and harmony
- Higher level of attention, focus and problem solving
- Increased resourcefulness for child and family
- Increased focus on what's working rather than what's not working
- Building necessary educational and interpersonal skills
CONCRETE RESULTS FROM COACHING
Dr. Lara Honos-Webb offers Coaching for Adult ADD.
Below is a list of treatment goals and interventions.
Managing Attention Deficits
- Increase Attention by Decreasing Stress
- Increase Attention by Increasing Interest in a Task
- Increase Attention by Prioritizing
- Increase Attention by Saying No to Unreasonable Demands
- Increase Focus by Setting Goals
- Increase Focus by Creating a Mission Statement
- Increase Focus by Creating a Not-To-Do List
Managing Impulsivity and Hyperactivity
- Decrease Impulsivity by Pausing
- Decrease Impulsivity by Increasing Detachment
- Decrease Impulsiveness by Asking "What Did You Mean By That?"
- Decrease Impulsivity by Managing Anger
- Decrease Impulsivity by Listing Consequences
- Decrease Impulsivity by Translating Complaints into Requests
- Decrease Impulsivity by Practicing Communication Skills
- Decrease Impulsivity by Increasing Positive Self-talk
- Decrease Hyperactivity by Increasing Self-Care
- Decrease Hyperactivity by Increasing Exercise and Relaxation
- Increase Persistence by Managing Emotions
- Increase Persistence by Increasing Awareness of Benefits
- Increase Persistence by Decreasing Self-Criticism
- Increase Persistence by Increasing Rewards
- Increase Task Completion by Predicting Obstacles
- Increase Task Completion by Identifying Unmet Need
- Increase Task Completion by Asking for Support
Create Real World Success
- Increase Motivation by Decreasing Depletion
- Increase Motivation by Noticing Progress
- Increase Motivation by Focusing on Positive Feelings
- Increase Motivation by Asking "Why do I want to change?"
- Increase Confidence by Identifying Strengths
- Increase Confidence by Listing Past Successes
- Increase Organization by Reframing
- Increase Organization by Decreasing Emotional Upsets
- Increase Organization with Technology
- Increase Time Management by Taking 10 minutes Each Morning
- Increase Time Management by Building New Habits
- Increase Time Management by Using Prompts and Reminders
What is Coaching?
Parent Coaching can take your family life into an entirely new direction. Small shifts in response to ADD behaviors can make huge differences in your results. Parents can channel high energy intensity by teaching kids to label, feel, and release emotions rather than acting them out. Kids can learn positive self talk and gain motivation and confidence.
For Yourself, I "hold up the mirror" to the one-of-a-kind unique never-before-seen talents that you have to offer the world so you never again doubt your own precious gifts. Sometimes your gifts are so big, others are shy to tell you about them or just downright intimidated by you. Sometimes your gifts have gone decades without being noticed because they weren't the sort of talents that got you good grades. I've seen people with open hearts, wicked senses of humor, geniuses for intimacy, and arrestingly original problem solvers who just got in trouble at school for the very gifts that now unleashed can change and heal the world.
Endorsement for The Gift of Adult ADD:
This book by Dr. Lara Honos-Webb, helped me, as much as the intuitiveness of the person who diagnosed me. It was one of the first things I read and it was by happenstance…or perhaps it was a “God” things as I am not one who really believes much in coincidences. It resonated in ways that made me feel smart and creative when I had recently…. and for the first time ….come out of a job situation where I was fired where I can now say, I was not to blame but set up for failure at every turn by another ego, arrogance, and cult like leadership style. I realized that my career, which defined me in every way, (more than it should have), was not what made me special or unique. The book unpacked for me various gaps I had in understanding my “sensitivity” and shed a new light on what benefits come from being extremely intuitive versus all the negatives you hear repeatedly throughout your life. ....
But this book was beyond beneficial and the best place I ever could have started to learn about how I am uniquely wired. And to view that uniqueness with not only its challenges, but with all the special privileges it provides as well. It is truly more of a blessing than a challenge and has been most of my life. ..... Thank you so much for providing a viewpoint that allowed me to not shut down, be hurt, feel “found out”, ....Read the book. And read it again. And then internalize it. And then Thank God. Then look at your life and DO something to get from point A to point B and for God sake, ask for help for once in your life. Because help exists.-- posted by LuvYourselfMore
"Just wanted to write you because it's been an enlightening weekend for me and it fits along with everything we talked about on Friday. I'm really excited about a really simplifiedplan to make things easy. You were right about reaching out to this particular group... this is MY group of people. Effortless to connect. Kinda feel human again. Good to have that human connection again. First time in a long time I'm really excited about learning more.
Moving energy. Thanks for the help. You da' best."
"I can't explain just how well targeted your instruction was for me.
You helped me to forgive and understand myself.
You gave me permission to be handicapped without compromising my potential.
Seriously . . . I can't thank you enough for changing my perspective.
Just an update. Working out again, think I have a job, have stopped caring what others think.
It's ok to be me. :-). "