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Book Review: ADHD & Me — What I Learned From Lighting Fires At The Dinner Table by Blake E.S. Taylor

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A couple of years ago, I went to a counselor to get myself straightened out. Not that anything was wrong with me, of course. I have always thought the rest of the world has a problem, not me. It’s been that way for the nearly forty years I’ve been in this world. One thing led to another, before I knew it, Karen, my counselor, was asking me if anyone had ever mentioned ADHD to me. No one had, I told her, so she suggested I check into it and we would talk about it at our next appointment.

I googled ADHD the next day and printed a checklist that came from one of the sites. Reading through it, I became convinced that I was seeing myself being described in a way that no one ever could describe me. I wanted to read more, to learn more about what ADHD is and how it was affecting me.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve spent many hours trying to find material to read that holds my attention and speaks to me in a way that is useful to me. Although Blake’s book is aimed at a reader younger than me, it spoke to me in ways that other books have not in that I feel like Blake is talking to me personally. He doesn’t whitewash the problems with having ADHD but he also doesn’t make me feel like it’s a death sentence. He is saying it is hard work but it can be done.

Blake E. S. Taylor was diagnosed at a very early age. He has taken situations in his life and made them lessons for people with ADHD. Included at the end of each situation, he talks about things he could have done differently in each situation and also strategies to help alleviate or avoid the situations.

Reading Blake’s book, I was struck at how difficult it must have been for him at times. It also brought back memories for me when I was his age and taking a test in a room that had too much color in it. Thinking about it, I always did better in classes that took place in bland rooms. Art rooms just distracted me way too much. Sitting too close to a window on a nice day was a guarantee that I would be daydreaming in a moment. I used to hate myself for not being able to focus in those situations. Now I understand.

Blake had forgotten to take his medication the morning of a big test. This is a problem, but not insurmountable. What makes the problem insurmountable is that the room is screaming with colors and art on the walls. Outside, it’s a nice day and the lower grades are at recess. All together, it’s distraction enough for anyone not fighting the scattershot focus of ADD/ADHD. Needless to say, Blake did not do very well on that test.

Another characteristic is quickness to boredom that can lead to doing things that if thought about for a few minutes, would never get done. More thought would bring a realization of consequences, usually bad ones. Blake shows this process with an incident in class where he got bored, lost focus and wondered what would happen if he threw his pen into the wall. Before the thought can even process fully, his pen has exploded against the wall. With that, Blake shows another problem with ADHD in that some people, in this case his teacher, don’t believe there is such a thing as ADHD. The thinking is that ADHD is nothing but an excuse for unruly behavior and is nothing that a bout of harsh punishment would not straighten out.

Blake’s writing is like a conversation, not a lecture, and because of that the reader might not get as much technical information as one of the more scientific books. I learned more from it however, because reading it held my attention, kept me engaged, taught through example, and helped me understand strategies that are easy to use in the real world. I plan on having my family read this book and will recommend it to others that either have ADHD or know someone that does.

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About Russ Evenhuis

I'm a writer with a mid-life crisis. I'm into sports of all kind, a Seattle fan to my bones. A retired rugby player, now I punish myself with triathlons when I'm not hanging out with the family, drinking Guinness and playing PlayStation.
  • http://philobiblon.co.uk Natalie Bennett

    This article has been selected for syndication to Boston.com. Nice work!

  • http://www.youngwithadhd.com Nate

    Your readers may be interested to know that Blake has an official website and blog. Thanks for the review! We’ll be adding it to our review section.

  • Russ Evenhuis

    Thanks for adding the link! I neglected to do that in my final draft.