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Book Review: Overcoming ADHD: Helping Your Child Become Calm, Engaged, and Focused – Without a Pill by Stanley I. Greenspan

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Author Stanley I. Greenspan’s Overcoming ADHD provides parents, caregivers, and teachers guidelines for helping children with ADHD — without resorting to pills — and the current solution to help such children today. He feels that all too often those who demonstrate ADHD behaviors are put in programs that do not focus on the underlying reasons for a child’s difficulty with self-control, paying attention, and remaining focused.

Included in his list of influences affecting “attention” are cultural expectations and possible biological factors. Most importantly, however, Greenspan feels that careful consideration of any child’s strengths and weaknesses is the most beneficial way to construct a realistic program for a child who appears hyperactive and inattentive


In its earliest pages, Overcoming ADHD discusses seven key factors of an interceptive approach. If after a 12-month period of serious attempts to improve these factors, only then should a parent or caregiver seek further professional help for a suspect child. So often, it might seem easier to “give the kid a pill” rather than consistently try to move along the spectrum of steps listed below.


An ADHD Person Can Learn How To: 

1. Move their body and its parts in a way that is age-appropriate.

2. Remember the sequence of thought patterns and activities.

3. Reduce over-activity or under-activity.

4. Think more reflectively.

5. Feel self-confident enough to lower anxiety.

6. Interact meaningfully with family members.

7. Live safely in a distracting environment.


Overcoming ADHD provides a variety of suggestions a parent, caregiver, teacher, or counselor can follow, to move a child along all of the seven steps listed above. There are far too many suggestions to mention here. The important thing is that each proposed game, exercise, or activity is explained in easy-to-follow detail and must be consistently used.


Especially important are the activities to help children feel good about themselves. The book tells of Mark, a boy with low self-esteem (#5-above). After talking with both Mark and his parents, it surfaced that Mark’s mother was overwhelmed by her son’s problems. His father simply felt Mark was acting out in school and tended to be harsh with him.


After some counseling, Mark’s father started having hang-out time on a regular basis with his son (#6-above). The two began to bond. Father saw Mark in a different light and took an active role in his interest in magic.


Since Mark had particular difficulty sequencing thoughts and activities (#2-above), his parents worked with an occupational therapist to set up a meaningful program. Mark was slowly taught to remember, and carry out a sequence of directions. Simple magic tricks from a local store became his reward for carrying a sequence of four directions correctly.


Mark's muscular coordination (#1-above) improved with regular use of balance beam activities that increased in difficulty. Eventually, the eight-year-old learned to perform a magic trick while talking and standing on the beam. This improved his overall coordination.


Mark’s family and interventionists played many “Regulation” games with him, along with a game Overcoming ADHD calls “Thinking About Tomorrow.” There is no need to mention either here since both are adequately explained on pages 112-115. How they helped Mark is fascinating.


The important issue is that this child’s abilities improved in many interrelated areas. As they changed, so did his self-esteem and his overall school performance. Did it happen overnight or in a week? No, it took many months, not just one or two. But family, school, and therapists, all working together to pull Mark through the seven steps mentioned above particularly in a loving, safe, dynamic home environment, accomplished a change in this boy that will last a lifetime — and the magic is: it was done without pills.


I would highly recommend any parent, educator, doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or minister read Overcoming ADHD and apply its suggestions to their charges, if they seriously want to help a child or adult typically labeled ADHD. The book is written in layman’s terms. It is fascinating. It is extremely well organized. It is hopeful. It is easy to follow. It just might start a more promising life for a problem child.

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