This volume of Lucent's Diseases and Disorders series begins by contextualizing attention-deficit/hyper-activity disorder (ADHD) as too often misinterpreted as manifestation of individual personality flaws. Since most people with ADHD exhibit characteristics entirely commonplace within the realm of human behavior and in the absence of a conclusive test for any of the three distinct forms of disorder, it can be difficult to confirm disordered distraction and inattention, and, while it usually appears in children under the age of seven, it disappears in about 20 percent of cases after puberty.
ADHD's root causes are as murky as its diagnosis, which usually relies upon a physician-elicited behavioral history. There are documented genetic predispositions, neurochemical deficiencies, as well as structural differences in the brain matter of individuals with ADHD when compared with control groups. Other data suggests that ADHD can actually be acquired in utero as well: "babies born to mothers who smoked or drank alcohol during their pregnancy have a two-and-a-half times greater chance of developing ADHD than children born to mothers who did not engage in these activities (p. 19).
Much of the book examines ADHD management options, including conventional medical treatments. The benefits and side effects of the most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals are discussed as well as the process of determining levels of chemical efficacy and the problem of pharmaceutical abuse. Alternative approaches like counseling, behavioral therapy, herbal treatment and nutritional supplements are touched upon as well. Testimony of many individuals with ADHD express their frustrations at a lack of comprehension of their disorder on the part of parents, teachers, families and friends. Interesting side bars include a retrospective relating historical understandings of the disease, a report on some research that suggests that experiencing the outdoors ("green time" p. 51) can alleviate symptoms of ADHD in some children and the findings of another study that white noise improves attention in afflicted individuals. Future treatment of ADHD, the final chapter theorizes, could lie in neurofeedback, stimulation of the cerebellum, intellectual exercise, though response to interventions, like each case, is highly idiosyncratic.
In addressing living with the disorder, warning about possible pitfalls for the inattentive, including potential for substance abuse, economic instability, even reckless driving, are balanced with accounts of links between ADHD and creativity, particularly the phases of hyperconcentration that individuals with the inattentive form of the disorder often exhibit. Athletes, performers and other prominent individuals are listed who have turned ADHD to their advantage, showcasing television personality Ty Pennington's account of his own problems. Advice for managing ADHD -- including time management and organization, coping in social situation and expelling restlessness through exercise -- are pragmatic and straightforward. Since individuals with severe ADHD may be considered to be disabled, the book includes an introduction to applicable legal entitlements, including eligibility for special education services.
The book is indexed, with a glossary. Citations are organized by chapter, with recommendations for further reading and organizational contact information, including online resources, at the end of the volume. Recommended for school and public libraries, where it will support human biology and physiognomy curriculum. Inevitably, most patrons will know individuals with the diagnosis.