Friday, May 23, 2008

Book Review: ADHD & Me, by Blake E. S. Taylor

ADHD & Me, written by Blake E. S. Taylor (2007, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, CA) is a memoir about growing up with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The author, currently a student at UC Berkeley, has a charming and very real voice throughout the book. Sometimes the book reads almost like a high school science report, which I think makes it more accessible for young readers. I recommend this book as something parents can read to help understand their own child with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. More than a book for parents though, I think it’s a great read for kids trying to deal with their own diagnosis.

Because the book breaks down into chapters dealing with different issues, such as “being disorganized” or “being unpopular” it can be useful for kids dealing with all sorts of social, home, or school problems, whether it’s due to ADHD, autism and ASDs, Asperger’s syndrome, or non-diagnosed issues with executive functioning or reading social cues. For each chapter, the author begins by presenting an illustration from his own life, showing how the specific issue impacted him. He then moves into his own analysis of why this issue comes up. Each chapter ends with the author’s suggested solutions for how to deal with the issue. Because the author just recently graduated from high school, his ideas may be more realistic than those of adults who were in school years ago.

For children and their parents who are feeling mistreated by a world that doesn’t always accept those who are different, this book could be a great support. The author comes right out and discusses the ideas of being treated unfairly by peers in chapters such as “being bullied” and “being isolated” while at the same time looking at his own contribution to the problems. He’s also direct about discussing the negative attitudes he’s encountered from adults, in chapters such as “being discriminated against” and “being blamed”. There are empowering ideas here for kids who are struggling with the realities of dealing with both peers and adults.

The best part of the book is the final two chapters, “taking control” and “being gifted”.  In ADHD, as with any difference, there are strengths as well as difficulties. Too often children, parents, and teachers are focused on the issues and their solutions, and the gifts and advantages that come with that difference are overlooked. The author lists all the ways in which his ADHD diagnosis can be a benefit, such as creativity and high energy. Seeing this list in a published book may be just what a child needs to be able to take a fresh look at his or her own diagnosis.