Alphabet Kids, From ADD to Zellweger Syndrome-A Guide to Developmental, Neurobiological and Psychological Disorders for Parents and Professionals is a handy, all in one reference guide for parents. Author Robbie Woliver obviously did his homework on this book, and was personally motivated by his own experience as parent to more than one “alphabet kid”.
In his introduction, Woliver states that, “one in every six children is estimated to have special needs due to an “alphabet disorder”. He also goes on to say that some experts feel the number may be as high as one in four, as many, perhaps millions, of kids remain undiagnosed. Whether you believe that the conditions in the book are under diagnosed or over diagnosed, this book will serve as a helpful resource. The author's research for the book was extensive. He interviewed both parents and specialists from more than 30 countries around the world. He warns us that many children suffer from comorbidity, and therefore have several overlapping conditions that may confuse experts seeking to label the child for treatment.
Early intervention will provide the opportunity for the best possible outcome for each of these children, so it is important to seek medical attention if you suspect that your child may have an illness or disorder described in this book. The book is designed to be a tool for parents, but not as a replacement for professional assessment. The author covers a lot of territory with chapters on over 70 separate disorders or labels.
Chapters are laid out in a fairly uniform manner, though not every chapter contains every heading. These are the headings used:
Terms used in this chapter : explains abbreviations and unusual words
Sound familiar? : A case study, which may be brief or very detailed
Did you know? : Explains the disorder in clear language
How it is manifested : Specifics on when and how symptoms appear
Signs and symptoms : a list of possible symptoms
Cause : The latest ideas on root causation
Diagnosis : How specialists make a diagnosis
Treatment : Options for treating the condition
Prognosis : Long term implications of the diagnosis
Sources and Resources : List of organizations and online communities that offer treatment and support
Many of the conditions featured in Alphabet Kids are familiar to the general public. You'll find information on ADD/ADHD, Down's Syndrome, and Tourette Syndrome, for example. But relatively rare conditions are covered as well, such as Cri du Chat Syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and Smith-Magenis Syndrome. Longer chapters cover up to about 20 pages, while shorter chapters may number just a few pages.
The case studies are particularly interesting. Susan, at age six, was assessed at a 12th grade reading level, yet was in the lowest percentiles in spatial and perceptive skills. Her label was Developmental Gerstmann's Syndrome, which caused her to have finger agnosia (a lack of sense of her own fingers), a dramatic weakness in math and spelling skills, and trouble with balance. Somehow, Susan overcame her challenges; graduated from Yale and went on to have a successful law career.
John grew up in Ireland and became obsessed with physical fitness after being bullied in college. He developed Anorexia Nervosa and nearly starved himself to death. It was only after several attempts that John found a treatment program that set him on the road to recovery.
Jennifer started displaying tics when she was preschool age. She was diagnosed with PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders) at age seven. Jen went on to become an activist, with the mission of spreading information on Tourette's. She was a National Merit Scholar and has been accepted into an elite college.
Recommended reading for parents of quirky kids everywhere!