Book Review: Teenagers with ADD, ADHD & Executive Function Deficits
By Becky Rizoli, Information / Outreach Specialist, FCSN
The book Teenagers with ADD, ADHD & Executive Function Deficits, was written by Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, M.S. The author is the parent of three (grown) children with ADHD, and is also a professional. She has written several books about ADHD, including two previous versions of Teenagers with ADD and ADHD.
This book is easy to read and is divided into seventeen chapters. Each of the chapters includes relevant quotes from parents of youth with ADHD, as well as helpful charts and tables.
One of the more informative and interesting illustrations shown in the book is the ADHD iceberg, which appears on page 14. It is a full-page graphic of an iceberg, with the caption, “Only 1/8 of an iceberg is visible!! Most of it is hidden beneath the surface!!” It depicts the “tip of the iceberg” as the most easily noticeable ADHD behaviors: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. The graphic illustrates that “below the surface,” one can find weak executive functioning, impaired sense of time, developmental delay in maturity, sleep disturbances, low frustration tolerance, and coexisting conditions. This graphic clearly shows that there is often more to ADHD than meets the eye.
The book is very detailed, informative, and educational. I already have a great deal of knowledge about ADHD from my personal and professional life, yet I learned new information from reading this book. For instance, I learned that youth with ADHD have the maturity level of someone three years younger than their chronological age; despite having an intelligence level that is the same or even higher than their peers. In other words, a 13-year-old with ADHD, who is capable of performing at or above grade level, may behave in ways that would be more appropriate for a 10-year-old. Understanding this point is important to know when reacting to developmentally inappropriate behavior from one’s son or daughter with ADHD, as we are reminded several times throughout the book.
The book clearly explains that the reason why young people with ADHD are less mature than their peers is because ADHD is caused by a dysfunction in the “white matter” of the brain, which is responsible for communication between brain cells. The “gray matter” of the brain, which controls intelligence, is unaffected by ADHD. This is why people with ADHD do not necessarily have a lower IQ than their peers, and in some cases, their IQ may even be superior to their peers. The book goes into great detail about how neurons and brain activity are different for people with ADHD and without these conditions, and uses language that is easy for the average person to understand, even if they don’t know much about neurology. The book also offers helpful communication tips for parents of teens with ADHD.
Also, the book describes treatment for ADHD and informs us that medication is effective for 90-95% of teenagers with the condition, and adds that if your child is still struggling on medication, they most likely have a co-existing condition. It also says that exercise and counseling can be helpful at treating the symptoms of ADHD. According the book, the most important factor for a youth with ADHD to become successful is to have someone who believes in him or her.