Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book reviews: ADHD edition

I've been reading up on this whole ADHD thing, because studying is something I'm good at. The CHADD website has been useful, as is the website for ADDitude magazine. Plus I'm still going through the American Academy of Pediatrics' book on the subject. So I thought, I'm learning all this stuff, but what about kiddo? What does he need to know about what he's got?

ADDitude, in a special downloadable supplement, recommended two books for his age group, and I am not kidding, one of them is called "Shelley the Hyperactive Turtle." This sounds like a junior-version parody of an After School Special. And yet it is real. The hyperactive turtle in question also looks an awful lot like Franklin the Turtle, but since the book is from 1989 originally, I'm assuming Franklin, Bear and Beaver never bothered to sue. 

If you can get past the title and the Franklin-ness, the book is fine. It pretty accurately describes what a hyperactive, uh, turtle would be acting like, and goes through the process of Shelley going to the doctor, getting diagnosed, getting therapy and medication. It's written on a level kiddo can more or less understand, except he seemed way too amused by the early scenes of Shelley acting up. I hope Shelley wasn't giving him ideas.

The other book is called "Eddie Enough!" I liked it better -- more detailed writing, nice black and white illustrations -- even though it's written slightly above kiddo's head. The main character is a few years older, and is describing things like art class and lunch in the cafeteria and going to the nurse's office, none of which kiddo is familiar with yet. And he was, again, way too amused by Eddie's misbehavior. Even more amused by the other characters making fun of Eddie. I guess that whole empathy thing comes later?

I will say I think the author isn't quite managing to sound like a third-grader. "To make a long story longer, as Grandma would say ..." doesn't scream "third-grade narrator" to me. But it's a minor quibble.

The plot otherwise mirrors the other book -- kid can't slow down, kid has trouble in school, kid gets help from sympathetic adults, kid goes to therapy and gets medication, kid is happy. Plus it has a nice little postscript from Eddie about how if you're reading this book, then you or someone you know may have ADHD and you can get help for it, just like he did. Which yes, I've also been reading to kiddo, for whatever it's worth.

I think my only real quibble with either book is the medication, just because kiddo doesn't happen to be on any right now. Since I know it does help a lot of kids, I'm not opposed to going with medication if it becomes necessary (though I should note, his therapist is), but until and unless we get to that point, I'd hate for him to think he needs a pill just to be like Shelley and Eddie. Though so far he hasn't noticed that part.

Still, this is a good starting point. He even likes the books. Not as much as he currently likes "The Cat in the Hat," because he seems to be overidentifying with Thing One and Thing Two (for some reason). But he likes them enough.

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