No, not a comic series, although maybe Superparent would be a good character! Rather, Drs. Edward Hallowell and Peter Jensen have written a book encouraging parents to focus on the strengths of an ADD (that is, a hyperactive) child. For those looking for a general guide to ADD and its treatment, this is not the book for you. This is a more specialized book specifically on turning what are generally regarded as the negative traits of ADD into positive forces in your child’s life.
Hallowell and Jensen make a good point, that though ADD is often thought to be a deficiency in the brain, it’s really more of a personality type. And really, it is sort of ridiculous to think that a trait that affects so many children (8.4% of all kids) is a disease. It’s just another way that people are. In times past, it’s easy to imagine that hyperactive kids would’ve had an advantage over others–centuries ago, when much of life was spent outdoors, the energy and diffused attention of the hyperactive personality would have been a real benefit. It’s only in today’s world, where we expect kids to sit at a desk and listen to a teacher for seven hours a day, that it becomes a negative.
The authors provide some good advice on how to help your kids do their homework, get along in school, and make the most of their childhoods. I don’t want to give away all the secrets in this review, but a lot of their recommendations have to do with letting the kids move while they do their work, or have multiple sources of stimuli (ADD kids are natural multi-taskers).
They also present a system for measuring learning/working styles I’ve never seen before, one developed by a Dr. Kathy Kolbe. It reminds me of the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory, but is a little different. The Kolbe Index has four scales: Fact Finder, Follow-Through, Quick Start, and Implementor; and on each of these scales, an individual can score as resistant, accomodating, or insistent. Again, read the book to find out exactly what these mean, but suffice it to say the Kolbe index is a useful lens for considering how people operate.
And it’s with the Kolbe Index that the authors show how ADD can be a strength for your child. ADD kids tend to be high (or insistent) in Quick Start and sometimes in Implementor, and low (or resistant) in Follow-Through and sometimes Fact Finder. This is almost the opposite of the typical teacher, who are Fact-Finding and Follow-Through fiends. It’s easy to see where conflict can arise in school! But that doesn’t mean your child is destined for a horrible life–high Quick Start and Implementor scores correspond with success in a number of careers. And once you know about your child’s strengths, you can start to make changes in his approach to school that may lead to an easier time.
I would definitely recommend this book for any parent with an ADD child. I sometimes wished while reading for a greater density of factual material and a little less rah-rah for how great the ADD child can be. But then I’ve been known to read biology text books for fun. I expect most readers will appreciate the lighter touch, and find a lot of useful information. For myself, I think the book has made me more admiring of my own child and appreciative of his qualities, for which I owe the authors my thanks.