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Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder    by Edward M. Hallowell & John J. Ratey order for
Delivered from Distraction
by Edward M. Hallowell
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Drs. Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey, authors of Driven to Distraction, shed even more light on Childhood and Adult Attention Deficit Disorder in Delivered from Distraction. Living very successful lives, despite having the condition themselves, they know of what they write, and the optimistic tone of this tome will be very welcome to those individuals, families, and educators dealing with ADD. The back of the book lists a compendium of worldwide resources.

Readers are advised to read at least the first chapter (which is available in the excerpt and includes a Q & A on ADD) if they're unable to get through the entire book. The authors advise thinking of ADD not as a mental disorder but as 'a collection of traits and tendencies that define a way of being in the world', suggest that the goal should be 'to sculpt ADD into a blessing', and offer the guidance to help make that happen. The book helps readers to understand living with ADD through selected personal stories that reflect the importance of diagnosis, and of 'know thyself'. The Introduction includes a summary of 'What's New in the World of ADD', including research into diagnosis, treatment advances, and an improved understanding of what ADD means. The latter emphasizes talents and strengths - what the authors call 'the zesty side of ADD' - as well as challenges.

For adults with ADD, there's a very useful list of 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective ADD Adults' that starts with 'Do what you're good at' and includes 'Get well enough organized to achieve your goals' (I don't have ADD and I especially like that one!) The authors also go into the difficulties that parents face in diagnosis when a child has, as is often the case, a variety of difficulties to cope with. And they share situations in which multiple family members deal with ADD. They discuss two useful new tests (qEEG and SPECT scan) and script how to tell a child about the condition - including 'you have a race-car brain.' They go into the mood disorders that coexist with ADD in about 25 percent of cases, and explain the danger of confusion of diagnosis of ADD and bipolar disorder. Dyslexia, which apparently has about a twenty percent overlap with ADD, is also covered.

There's a discussion of environmental factors that induce ADD, including report of a study that showed that toddlers watching more than 2 hours of TV daily had an increased (by 30 percent) chance of having ADD later. The authors talk of the four A's (ADD, asthma, autism and Asperger's) that are on the rise and suggest electronic superstimulation, interpersonal disconnection, and chemical (environmental) intoxication as probable causes. They highlight a shining educational example of a school-wide enrichment model that seeks to connect with every child, seeking projects for them that match their passions - 'proof of what high expectations coupled with an imaginative, flexible system can do' (sadly this is rare in the educational system). And there's advice on preparing a child for college, helpful for any student, though ADD makes these steps even more important.

Nutrition is covered in depth, as well as the importance of regular exercise (including the potential of treatment of ADD by 'cerebellar stimulation' that involves balancing exercises), and medication options. Towards the end, the authors advise those with ADD minds to avoid spinning (where SPIN stands for shame, pessimism, isolation and no creative outlet). If you have ADD, or care about someone who has, then Delivered from Distraction is a must read; it's inspiring, optimistic, comprehensive and extremely helpful.

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