Why on earth would anyone read a book on ADHD, that fad, fake and persistent diagnosis that became wildly popular among teachers and lazy parents about 30 years ago, and that attached to normal but rambunctious kids who had a hard time listening and who couldn't focus in school? For a great reason: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is real, always has been and, fortunately, always will be.
Why fortunately? According to Toronto Paediatrician Dr. Alan Berzen, author of Limit(less): A Guide to Optimizing Diagnosis, Management, and Outcome in ADHD, people who have the condition -- up to 12 percent of the population -- have a gift which allows them to both hyper-focus and "think outside the box," two positive attributes that can enhance life and come in extremely handy for someone struggling with ADHD's difficult side effects and its co-morbidities.
The main challenge for parents, doctors and teachers with respect to ADHD -- which is in fact genetically based and under-diagnosed -- is to properly treat it, thus helping affected kids be able to have the best possible life experiences. To this end, Dr. Berzen has designed an excellent formula, outlined in this fast-paced, delightful and informative 150-page self-published book.
About this subject, Dr. Berzen should know what he is talking about. Not only has he been a children's doctor for the last 35 years -- watching his ADHD patients suffer, helping them cope, and finally, witnessing them, with the right support, flourish -- but Dr. Berzen himself, he openly admits, has the condition. For him it went undiagnosed for decades. Don't be fooled. Just because he sailed through medical school, set up a successful practice and established a happy marriage with three fantastic children, does not mean he was always fulfilled. Indeed, as the paediatrician explains, before dealing with his ADHD, he was dogged by mental and emotional problems, and he suffered quite terribly: "I never felt my life was complete.... I was plagued with what appeared to be anxiety. Small thing seemed to trip me up. This was extremely frustrating."
Untreated, ADHD causes unnecessary issues around self-esteem and ego, problems everyone agrees can wreak havoc in a child's life. As adults, as Dr. Berzen himself experienced, around the simplest aspects of life, ADHD can cause needless suffering, including confusion, procrastination, forgetfulness and avoidance, all of which can lead -- separately or together -- to serious and financial consequences, as well as agonizing aggravation.
So what does Limit(less) -- meant for professionals and parents alike -- cover? Every important element of ADHD, from biology and neurology to diagnosis and treatment. Gratifyingly, the book is written in a way that people with the condition can take advantage of its lovely wisdom: every one of the 16 chapters contains an easy, numbered summary at the end, which the author urges readers to use, before reading the chapter itself.
In keeping with his belief that ADHD is a good thing, Dr. Berzens is unhappy with the words "deficit" and "disorder" in the acronym. Indeed, he believes the term ADHD is a "huge misnomer, and should be changed... [to] 'attention variability personality.'" He explains that part of the condition finds children very easily focussed on such things as Lego or video games, so therefore parents think their child cannot possibly have ADHD. "'Attention deficit' suggests that an individual never focuses, which is completely incorrect. In ADHD the individual has variable focus, hyper-focusing (singular focus) on things they are genetically predetermined to be interested in... and hypo-focussing (no focus) on things they are not interested in."
Nevertheless, some facts about ADHD -- a condition which can be controlled but can never be outgrown -- are disturbing. These facts have been learned through medical studies, and are therefore credible, acceptable and believable . For instance, people with ADHD often have a "patchy ego," wherein an individual's choices are limited by feelings of vulnerability. This vulnerability is a natural reaction to the individual's inability to learn from making errors. People with ADHD are sometimes dangerous risk takers. The condition's effects have been shown to be associated with high school making drop out rates, teenage pregnancy, criminal activity, and job and marriage failure.
Dr. Berzen's remedies for childhood ADHD are not necessarily easy. He does not eschew drugs in every case, but he insists that medical treatment must be coordinated with social, educational and psychological assistance. Key of course are the parents, who must monitor daily homework without fail, ensure as much as possible adequate sleep every night, and try and arrange organized sports as well as music lessons. These latter activities have shown to have positive results for ADHD children.
Limit(less) is not available at Amazon but only through Dr. Berzen's office. To arrange for a copy, please call 905-764-5114.