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260 of 265 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
...the answer. He has good reasons why we (parents of kids diagnosed as ADD) should really examine medication and other solutions. I am glad I bought this book.
Before heading right to the 50 Ways, Armstrong offers the reader five chapters filled with information, positive and negative, about ADD and medication, the whys and wherefores. He starts with reasons why he doesn't believe in A.D.D as a medical problem, treatable primarily by medication.
As he says in this review area, he is NOT saying ADD doesn't exist - he acknowledges that the problems we experience with our kids are real. What I believe he IS saying is that he doesn't believe the 'disease' diagnosed as A.D.D. is a medical problem only within the child, curable by medication.
He suggests that some of the problem may be cultural - we expect our children at the age of 6 to be able to sit quietly in a classroom setting - other cultures allow children more freedom, some offer less. Changes in our own "short attention span" culture may contribute to the A.D.D. behaviors, as do boring classroom set-ups, gender differences, different learning styles, parent-child dis-connections and so on.
He tells what is good, and not good about the pills - some of which may be the same as a placebo effect. When parents and teachers know the child is being medicated, they relax and that change of attitude has a positive effect on the child (I have seen this with my own child and his teachers).
He writes more about the negative effects of Ritalin (not Adderall) as perhaps stifling creativity and the dependency factor, although he is clear that there is no answer yet (however, both Ritalin and Adderall are controlled substances and many children do have negative 'withdrawal' effects). Despite his discussion on drugs, he says "Such drugs, used in the right way with the right individuals by responsible physicians, can significantly enhance the quality of life for many children." But he limits this to three situations - 1) several hyperactive children 2) children in the midst of a life-changing trauma (death in the family, for example) 3) a last resort.
After some 50 pages of this introduction, you get to the reason you bought the book - alternative solutions and they are good (whether or not your child is on medication). He starts with a checklist of things that may bother you about your child's behavior - each one checked off directs you to at least one chapter with possible solutions.
Examples include: Runny nose, itching, stomachache - go to Chapter 2 and look at the Feingold Diet, or Chapter 12 ideas to help alleviate what may be an allergy problem; play Nintendo for two or three hours at a time, go to Chapter 3 and consider limiting TV and video games or Chapter 36, giving your child access to a computer (he misses, on this one, his own Chapter #5, find out what really interests your child - the one I've found most effective - piano, riding lessons, reading, outside play with friends really are more appealing when encouraged by a parent!). Each of these chapters has information, which many of us have already read - but he also provides resources at the end of the chapter which I am finding helpful. And let me once again point out, he has 50 (5-0!) ideas neatly arranged in one book - I especially like that you can look at the list of your child's particular problems and go right to the chapter, rather than trying to read all the way through, cover to cover.
For those who believe that medication is a strong, necessary and large part of the solution, or for those who do not have the time, money or emotional resources to examine the "whys" of ADD, the first part of the book more of an annoyance than a help.
If so, I'd still encourage people to read this book, pages 61 - 257.
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145 of 146 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
As the parent of a child labeled ADHD and as someone who has spent the last 18 months researching this condition, I found this book to be the best I have come across yet. Unlike the first review listed here, I did not get the impression that this book blames bad parenting for the condition. It is touched upon early in the book as a probable cause of some of the behaviours, but it is definitely not what this whole book is about. Thomas Armstrong give us several very workable strategies that are more compatible with different learning styles. He does not swing too far to the left or right, but rather encourages us to stand back and use reason and understanding and not to be caught up in the opinions of the closed-minded disorder model. He does not totally condemn nor does he fully endorse the use of medication, again he shows us how to use reason to determine if and when medication should be used. Not only do his strategies work for these "labeled" children, but many of them are excellent strategies that we all could make use and would be of benefit to even "normal" children. I would highly recommend this book to all parents of children who have been saddled with the label of ADD/ADHD. This book should be mandatory reading for all teachers. It should be part of the program during teachers college.
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80 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
I've read about 10 books on attention deficit disorder, including Driven to Distraction and most of the Thom Hartmann books. Out of all the books I've read, this is my favorite. The book is not quite as radical as it sounds; the author isn't saying that some kids aren't different or couldn't use intervention. What he's saying is that the "disorder" designation of ADD is not appropriate for most of the kids who get labeled as such. Yes, they're different, but there are lots of reasons why, including diet, learning styles, temperament, allergies, and normal heredity. The book is very practical. There is a questionnaire to answer about your child. For each "yes" answer you give, the author references one or two chapters which might be helpful to your specific child. I found these chapters on "tips" most helpful. For example, if your child seems to think best on his feet, there is a chapter which discusses how some kids perform better in school when they are allowed to move around during the lecture. He does not lump all ADD kids together, like most authors, but focuses on their individuality.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Armstrong states his thesis very clearly in his preface as follows: "A.D.D. does not exist; these children are not disordered. They may have a different style of thinking, attending, and behaving, but it's the broader social and educational influences that create the disorder, not the children." He goes on to explain that the behaviors, difficulties, and learning shortfalls noted by parents and teachers do exist, but he believes there are better - though more demanding - solutions than a medical diagnosis and medication. (Note that he's not anti-Ritalin, having seen many dramatic success stories. He's just against a knee-jerk prescription of Ritalin for every child whose behavior and/or attention don't match our norms.)

Armstrong's list of alternatives to medication is eclectic and wide-ranging, taking in the controversial (try the Feingold anti-allergen diet - it can't hurt), the unarguable (help your child with organizational skills), and the novel (use incidental learning to teach.) He provides a quick quiz to help parents identify the most promising options for their child, and directs them to short, 3-4 page chapters describing each idea. Here are just a few chapter titles:

Provide a Balanced Breakfast

Limit Television and Video Games

Discover Your Child's Personal Learning Style

Use Color to Highlight Information

Give Instructions in Attention-Grabbing Ways

Spend Positive Times Together

Provide Your Child with Access to a Computer

Have Your Child Teach a Younger Child

This book is a lifesaver for those, like me, with a child who doesn't exactly fit any of the labels. I would expect it to be equally useful for those with a child who is 100%, obviously, dead-on ADD. Whether a child is a candidate for medication or not, parents and teachers owe it to that child to teach needed behavioral skills, enhance self-esteem, and identify the most productive learning environment. Highly recommended.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
When you're dealing with an active kid, fresh ideas can be hardto come by, and finding 50 of them in one place is reason enough to celebrate. Some of these are more practicable than others--I've found that any idea that requires getting the school to do things differently is a hard idea to implement--but all are thought-provoking. If nothing else, it's nice, in these medicate-first-ask-questions-later times, to find someone taking behavior modification seriously, and turning our kids' imagination, exuberance, and energy to their advantage. END
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
After being told by my son's second grade teacher that she thought my son had ADD, my husband and I took him to three different professionals. The first two wanted to medicate him. The third tested him and gave us this book to read. It turned out that our son had many allergies to both foods and environmental items. He also was above average intelligence and was bored with his classwork. We bought a computer and got him learning software. We also signed him up for piano lessons and had him read many books. We took care of his allergies through diet and shots. He is now a high school sophomore who is in all honors classes. He is planning on going to school to become a surgeon. Please take the time to investigate all your options before going straight to the Ritalin. Some children will still need the medication but use that as your last resort. Another good book to read is "Is This Your Child?" by Dr. Doris Rapp. She discusses the allergy aspect to behavior problems.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 7, 2003
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book provides brief overviews and introductions to a variety of approaches to handling ADD/ADHD symptoms and their sources. This ranges from healthy parenting and educational strategies to healthy diet and alternative medicine approaches. The book avoids overtly criticizing the pharmaceutical paradigm or some common disciplinary approaches, and does not go into much depth about many of the interventions it examines. However, this is a good introductory book for those who are looking for ways to deal with their child's difficulties and don't want to drug their kids into temporary submission or use unhealthy threats, intimidation, or corporal punishments to control behaviors. I have a self-published text that addresses this topic to some extent, going into more depth in some areas and more thoroughly examining the hazards and illogic of common approaches to ADD/ADHD.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I married a man who proudly professed he was ADD. And I watched as every bad behavior, every weakness, and every sin was blamed on ADD. His mother proudly had him diagnosed and medicated. I even began to fall into the trap of believing the line he would always feed me "I can't change, I have ADD, I've had it all my life and always will". And this from the man who said "don't put me in a box". Here he was constantly boxing himself into the neat and tidy little ADD box. When I came across this book my heart sank. All those years when I thought, surely this label has done more damage than good, I was right. And this book was confirming everything my gut was telling me. And I can tell you the damage this label has done to my son. In 5th grade he began to be restless and not pay attention. Of course, they wanted him tested for ADD. Finally, after much persuasion from my mother in law (via my husband) I had him tested. Well, amazingly...they diagnosed him with ADD. As I read over the same test he took I thought to myself...well, that could be me. I might not sit still for hours very well. And when we got the "official" diagnosis he had the label at school. Now he had to be escorted to a different room for tests. I could see his self worth diminish. He slowly was becoming a different person. All his mistakes and lack of self control were now easily being blamed on ADD...the diagnosis he knew meant he wasn't to blame. Fortunately, I didn't medicate him. I knew deep down, from what I have witnessed through my husbands family, that drugs numb...but that doesn't mean your alive. And I didn't want him hating me for drugging him. Finally, at the end of this school year, when I came upon this book, I decided to erase that word from our vocabulary. I decided that he could meet whatever bar I set. I decided that that label had become his scarlet letter, something that brought great shame. I applaud the author. I have spent the far too short summer rebuilding him. Giving him the food that heals, avoiding food coloring and fake flavors. Putting him out in the sun. And letting him know that his "gifts" and spirit may be different than mine, or his brothers or other kids...but thank goodness. How boring to all be the same. I am only sorry I didn't find this book before being brainwashed into getting the diagnosis. I will always regret that. I now see the light in his eyes again. Any parent who gets their child diagnosed with ADD, STOP...read this book, read also THE WILDEST COLTS MAKE THE BEST HORSES. Drugs are not the answer for our kids. It's work, it's hard work, but that is our job.
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87 of 112 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This is funny, b/c I am writing a review for the first time, and I haven't even read the book. I am up at... let me go look..12:42am on a Tuesday night because I can't sleep.. looking for alternative to adderall. I loved the drug when I was 1st put on it... it was the answer to all my problems. I could finally do all the things that I had been wanting to do. My room was clean, my homework was done a week in advance, I could watch a movie all the way through, I could talk to people w/o fear, I remembered to brush my teeth... you get the point. But no one told me about the negative side of things such as the EXTREAMLY HIGH RISK of ADDICTION. Because everything is so much easier with the drug, I can no longer function with out it.

I started taking it at about 15. I'm 24 now, with two boys 3 and 4. The only time I wasn't on adderall from 15 to 24 was when I was pregnant and right before my 1st. I was not careless during my pregnancy, I read book after book, followed the "What to expect when your expecting diet, swore off caffine, made every prenatal appointment, took the last two months off of work, etc. "After I gave birth to my 1st son, I was put back on it when I was finished breastfeeding. But, a year later I found out that I was pregnant with my second (unexpected) and I was taking adderall during conception, before I knew. I remember my Doctors reaction when I asked if I should stop taking it,"You haven't already?!? You NEED to stop IMMEDIATLY, it is not safe during pregnancy!" It startled me... because this was 5 minutes after they told me I was pregnant. Even though that is all she said & despite the fact that I had no way of knowing what it could do...I worried. And on April 30th I gave birth to a son with a cleft lip. I have no knowledge that his lip can be attributed to adderall, but I intend to find out. Nature could be to blame, but I don't believe in coincidence. At 3 months of pregnancy, I payed a visit to the ER because I was bleeding heavily for "no reason," When I left, that was what I was told. Basically, we don't know, the baby is fine... see ya later.

It is a deformity that forms in the 1st month (when I was on adderall) there is no family history of it, and there were no other contributing dangers. My son will have to live with a scar on his face for the rest of his life because no one wants to aknowledge the dangers of this drug. That's not it though. My teeth are all decaying rapidly due to 9 years of dry mouth and clenching my jaw. (Another lovely side affect no one failed to mention)I was underweight and undernourished because of my lack of appitite. The older I get, the quicker I am falling apart. Dr. have no idea what this drug does in the long run, b/c no one has taken it that long. We, I, am a guinea pig. Now that I am 24 I get to worry about things like Hepatic Failure, liver transplant, kidney infections, etc. There are bruise all over my body becuase my liver can't function after withstanding years of this poison. I know at least 25 other people my age on the drug and al I can do is watch as they slowly poison themselves. As it ruins their personal relationships, keeps them up all night, prevents them from eating properly... keeps them focused on tasks, organization, etc. completly oblivious to the rest of the world around them. Causes them to become too focused on a task and/or the 100000 task on their list of things to do that they forget about the world around them. They go through life with blinders on.

But that's the whole point right? To remove the distractions?

I've been told that I "don't need medication,"

" can handle it yourself," " It's all in your head," etc. And have been very upset by it. There is something wrong with me, I didn't just make it up.... but do I really need to be medicated? Or does the rest of the world need to catch up? I don't really know... but I think that God makes us all different for a reason... and that when I take adderall, I loose a peice of my personality. I become a computer that follows the commands that the world keeps typing in. With no emotion, no anger, no passion... none of the aspects that make me different from everyone else. I think that if 30 million of America's 290,809,777 citizens are diagnosed with ADD / ADHD each year, the world needs to change, not us!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm amazed at the negative reviews on this book. Apparently when a psychologist has the gall to suggest we should stop drugging our children, it causes an uproar.

Whether you chose to medicate your ADHD child or not, there is a wealth of information here. And it goes beyond the obvious of "limit TV." The 50 suggestions are a quick read, and they not only introduce things that might work, they explain WHY they work.

I especially liked his discussions on why ADHD kids are so kinetic and how they are haptic (hands-on) learners. Also, he explains why ADHD kids benefit from full inclusion in a regular classroom. And he introduced a concept I hadn't considered before, that ADHD kids might not get distracted from overstimulation, but from understimulation (i.e. they act out from boredom).

It's obvious Armstrong has learned a lot from his years of working with these kids. Reading this book and trying his suggestions has made us a beneficiary of that knowledge.

I've read many books on this subject, and I consider this to be one of the most useful. I recommend it to any parent raising a child with an ADHD/ADD diagnosis...whether or not your child is on meds.
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