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Book Review

The Family ADHD Solution: A Scientific Approach to Maximizing Your Child’s Attention and Minimizing Parental Stress

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common behavioral conditions affecting children today, and it has a definitive medical cause. Yet, it is often portrayed as a figment of our collective imagination. Parents of children with ADHD are often bombarded by accusations that their child’s behavior is simply due to lack of discipline or poor parenting, or a reflection of a harried and fast paced modern society. As blame, guilt, and confusion take over, parents struggle with the dual challenges of their child’s symptoms and their own frustration.

In this book, Mark Bertin, a developmental pediatrician, cuts through the misinformation that plagues parents. As he explains in the first chapter, medical research has moved far beyond any debate about the existence of ADHD. From that starting point, he explains the ins and outs of ADHD from diagnosis through treatment, in a style that emphasizes the needs not only of individual children, but of entire families.

Bertin says, parents of children with ADHD are often highly stressed, anxious, prone to depression, and at risk of divorce. To support these parents, Bertin offers the practices of mindfulness. As he says in the introduction to the book: Hyperactivity, impulsivity, and poor focus are, to borrow a frequently used metaphor, the tip of the ADHD iceberg. The bulk of it, hidden below the surface is the emotional, organizational, motivational, time management, learning, and overall self-regulation issues that are related to deficits in a skill group often labeled ‘executive function.’ Without this clear-sighted view of ADHD, decisions become muddled and unnecessarily complicated.

The book is designed to explain ADHD in a way that parents will be informed and ready to make skillful decisions about parenting, educational, and medical care. Going beyond the more surface symptoms of hyperactivity and distractibility, Bertin explains the emotional, organizational, motivational and overall self-regulatory issues at the heart of the condition; ADHD is much more than a problem with attention or impulsivity. Simply acknowledging the neurology of ADHD often leads parents to see their children’s behavior in a new light, allowing them to let go of common misperceptions of a child as inherently “bad” or poorly motivated.

 This is also where the practice of mindfulness comes in. Bertin writes: “Mindfulness does more than help with relaxation, it hones people’s ability to see the details of life more clearly and to respond more skillfully when challenged. When combined with evidence-based ADHD care, mindfulness allows families to take a huge leap forward toward a happy future.”