One of the most valuable resources for Attention Deficit Disorder, Delivered from Distraction was written by two psychiatrists who have ADD. Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M. D. understand the ins and outs of ADD/ADHD from both the personal and professional perspectives. With years of experience, they have crafted a book that is an excellent tool for anybody who wants to know more about this capricious condition. Written in an easy-to-read style, this book was constructed to hold the interest of people who have ADD.
Chapter 1 is called “The Skinny on ADD: Read this if you can’t read the whole book.” In condensed form, written succinctly, it contains vital information in a question and answer style. For people who are new to the ADD game or those who want to brush up, there is a discussion of the characteristics of different types of Attention Deficit Disorder. Many other topics are covered including diagnosis, various manners of treating ADD, and medications. Dr. Hallowell discusses all of this in under twenty pages. The rest of the book expands on these themes in discrete chapters. So, you can find out a step-by-step way to get a diagnosis. If you want to know about medications, you can read those chapters. This book makes it easy to get the information that you want.
Part 1: What’s it Like to Have ADD?
For people who have been wondering, “Do I have ADD?” this section should help you decide. You can learn how ADD feels from the insider perspective. There is an excellent screening quiz. Many people who go through it will do so nodding their heads and saying, “Yep, umm-hmm, OH YES!” After taking the assessment, you can decide whether to seek help from a medical professional based on your score.
Much of the rest of the section is illustrative of what it is like to have ADD. For people who think ADD is just a problem of will, as in, “You could do this if you would just make the effort,” Dr. Hallowell delineates how ADD is different from the layman’s perception. While it should be well-known by now that ADD is a biological disorder, many people regard the lack of focus and struggles to pay attention as a moral defect. This idea is debunked in the chapter named Won’t Pay Attention, or Can’t? The Crux of the Matter.
Part 2: Three Stories That Tell the Story
The stories of three families’ journeys into the land of Attention Deficit Disorder are told with humor and compassion. The first story, The Benevians, illustrates how ADD may not show up in the academic life of a very bright child until it is time for middle school. This is typically the time when the work load becomes heavier and more complicated. A chapter about Joey brings us into the world of a child with ADD and multiple differences. Joey's parents had to seek help for various problems that he had. Medications needed to be adjusted many times. But with the persistent help of his family, Joey thrives. The O’Brien Family chapter could have been nicknamed The House that ADD Built. Both parents and their seven children have ADD. Yes, all of them! This documents their struggles and triumphs in finding ways to work around the problems that ADD can cause. It also gives the perspective that ADD is forever. Just because you are working effectively with your ADD, your life is not going to be smooth sailing. However, just because you have ADD doesn’t give you an excuse not to achieve.
Part 3: Making the Diagnosis of ADD
The nine chapters that comprise this section go beyond the basics of diagnosis. Yes, diagnosis is thoroughly covered. Dr. Hallowell includes descriptions of neurological testing that is not typically done. He also discusses conditions that co-exist with ADD. Chapters on the ways that genetics and the environment can interact to trigger Attention Deficit Disorder are interesting to read.
Part 4: Mastering the Power and Avoiding the Pitfalls: The Treatment of ADD
Roughly the last half of the book is dedicated to the treatment of ADD. When I say treatment, you should imagine a holistic approach to treating ADD. Dr. Hallowell proposes that the most important parts of a treatment plan for adults are: find a mate who understands you; find a job that you are suited for; connect to positive people; learn to creatively play. He feels that people who have found lasting joy work better with their ADD than people who are trapped in self-defeating scenarios in their lives. Nutrition and physical exercise are a large part of treatment. Two chapters discuss medication.
There are some novel treatments for ADD in chapters 28 and 29. These do have some basis in research, although they have not had widespread studies done on them. Chapter 28 tells about “powerful exercises for the brain that improve attention.” The beauty of these exercises is that they are low cost and don’t need complicated equipment. Chapter 29 describes how cerebellar stimulation, a type of physical activity, helped Dr. Hallowell’s son improve his reading. It is absolutely fascinating!
If you have a child who is ready to go away to college, please read the chapter titled, Major Danger Alert: College and ADD. It tells about the pitfalls of going to college, especially away from home, when a person has ADD. There are lists of proactive strategies to prevent the problems and avoid a wasted freshman year. This is an excellent resource for any parent!
Many people can write books of facts and advice. Doctors Hallowell and Ratey have gone beyond that. Their book lets people really know what it is like to have Attention Deficit Disorder. They don’t focus just on the negative parts of ADD; they show us hope.
To write this review, I borrowed this book from my public library. I was not compensated for this review. However, after reading this book, I bought a gently used copy for my library. It is an outstanding reference.
Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder