Below are my reviews of three books about Attention Deficit Disorder. The first one thoroughly explains what the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD means and how it plays out. The second one is written for adults with ADD/ADHD and offers very specific ways to manage this condition. The third book shows how to organize your home to help a person with ADD/ADHD. All three books are outstanding.
Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood Through Adulthood
By Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.
This is an excellent and comprehensive book about ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder. It could be useful to students, parents and patients alike. Dr. Hallowell defines Attention Deficit Disorder as “A neurological syndrome whose classic defining triad of symptoms includes impulsivity, distractibility, and hyperactivity or excess energy.” Pg 6 Hallowell first learned about ADD in a medical school class. His life was changed from that lecture as he realized he had ADD himself! “I had the greatest ‘Aha’ experience of my life.” xii
Hallowell presents case history after case history illustrating what ADD is. He explores ADD in children, in adults, in couples, in the family, subtypes of ADD, the steps toward diagnosis, the treatment and the biology of ADD. Many of the individuals in the case histories have an overwhelming response of relief and joy when they receive the diagnosis. They thought they were to blame for their problems and blamed themselves. Instead they learned it’s a neurological problem. They couldn’t help their behavior any more than a person who is near sighted could see well without glasses.
The symptoms for children with ADD are spelled out in the DSM
III abbreviated here: Often fidgets or squirms in seats, easily distracted,
difficulty waiting, difficulty concentrating, difficulty following
instructions, often shifts from one uncompleted activity to another, difficulty
playing quietly, talks excessively, interrupts others, doesn’t listen well,
often loses things. Hallowell also comments on the fact that children with ADD
are usually very bright and original in their thinking. They often feel shame
about not being able to conform and often are punished and blamed in their
family for their erratic, disorganized behavior. They need help overcoming
The adult symptoms of ADD are: A sense of underachievement no matter how much has been achieved, difficulty being organized, chronic procrastination, trouble starting, involved in many projects without following through, says what comes to mind inappropriately, trouble focusing attention while reading or conversing but may be hyper focused at times, creative, intuitive, highly intelligent, doesn’t follow procedures or channels, impatient, impulsive – spending money, changing plans, worrier, insecure, mood swings. 89 Many highly creative people in history had ADD including Mozart, Edison, and Einstein.
Hallowell feels strongly that the key to diagnosis is the history. The doctor must spend much time getting to know the patient. There are no definitive tests. “This is old fashioned medicine, not high-tech.” pg 242
In recent years doctors have discovered that about a third of ADD patients out grow it and two-thirds have it throughout their life. About 85 percent of adults with ADD benefit from medication and 15 percent do not. Hallowell says that medication is not all that is needed to help patients. He describes the ins and outs of treatment and says this should include educating the patient, helping them modify their behavior, therapy and coaching.
Your Life Can Be Better
Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD
By Douglas A. Puryear MD
This is an outstanding book which can easily be read by a person with ADD. The print is large, the chapters are short and the steps to change are explained and illustrated. And every chapter ends with a summary. Dr. Puryear is a psychiatrist and he himself has ADD so he speaks from his own experience. Sections include: Problems and strategies, Simplify and organize, Time, Habits, Unpleasant states of mind, Personality issues and more. He also includes interviews with two ADD patients.
Puryear writes about his own issues with ADD and with steps he uses to over come problems. For example, in the first chapter he tells about losing track of his car keys. He and his wife would search almost daily for his keys. His wife finally suggested he ALWAYS put them on the table by the front door. He explains the steps still needed to make that a habit for him with ADD.
Throughout the book he writes with humor and dismay about his own problems even now with being organized. He describes his difficulties writing this book and getting it organized and proof reading it. There are ten appendices with good information also especially one on how to study to really learn something. And another on how to not forget information you need to learn. Remember he went through med school!
The author also includes good news about people with ADD who have many great qualities as shown in this:
Top Ten ADD Advantages of a Hi Tech Career
by Pete Quily
1. The ability to hyper focus.
2. Rapid fire mind.
3. Multitasking at will.
4. High energy level.
5. Highly creative.
6. Quick learner.
7. Stimulus seeking brain.
8. Constantly scanning your environment.
9. Great in a crisis.
10 Risk taker.
This is a valuable book for people with ADD – and maybe it will help most of us!
Organizing Solutions For People with ADHD: Tips and Tools to help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized.
By Susan C Pinsky
This is a fantastic book. It’s beautifully designed with many illustrations and pictures to help you understand what is proposed. I am a very organized person but I have trouble letting go of stuff. This book has helped me purge in a big way, helping me be better organized than ever.
Susan Pinsky has clever ideas that will help the ADD person be able to keep his or her stuff in order. Each room in the house has a chapter, even the bathroom and the laundry room. She also includes a chapter on calendars and scheduling, storage spaces, and packing and moving. She cuts down the steps that are needed to do most clean up chores thus simplifying life for everyone in the house. For example she suggests every child over eight can do their own laundry one day a week. Give them their own laundry basket and even their towel can be washed in one load by them and then returned to their room with no sorting of clothing of other family members. Sheets can all be done in one day and returned to the bed without folding.
The information here is invaluable even if you only use a few of Pinsky’s ideas. Parents with an ADD child will find it especially helpful.
“It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self control than to conquer a city.” Proverbs NLT
“Intelligent people are always open to new ideas. In fact, they look for them.” Proverbs NLT