Attention Deficit Disorder: ADD

Attention Deficit Disorder Discussion Report

Friday, October 22nd, Katherine Ellison, author of the recently published book, Buzz, was the speaker at Parents Education Network in San Francisco, CA.   A mother of a son who has ADD, her book vividly describes her family’s trials, tribulations and successes with the challenges her son faces. She was also very frank about herself letting us know that she, too, has the same brain aberration. 

A brief description of ADD culled from the field’s leading experts set the scene. The core problem is a weakness in the brain’s inhibitory system. She describes it as “faulty breaks”. The symptoms include impulsiveness, forgetfulness and distraction. 

Before reading a dramatic scene from her book, Ms. Ellison, a successful newspaper reporter and author, shared that Jack, her husband, and her two sons were torn apart with the tensions generating from challenges her oldest son, nine years old Buzz, faced. Writing her book was the only way she had to handle the family crisis. She described her inability to stop herself going into reaction, screaming at him, even spanking him when he said horrible things. Now, she understands that he was in his own world and didn’t see the cause/effect relationship of his comments.   

This drama heightened as she read a scene from her book, describing her efforts at 6 am to get Buzz up for his Spanish class, a class he enjoyed. Rising from bed, taking a shower, eating breakfast was chaotic ending in a verbal war between mother and son.  As Buzz exited, slamming the door, Ms. Ellison experienced an “ahha”. She realized she was bordering on not loving her son and was stunned!  She saw that her ADD and his were sparking each other’s worst side. She knew she had to be the one to change and turned her attention from her own distress and challenges with her ADD to her child. One of her strategies that had positive effect was finding ways to show Buzz that he was loved by her. This meant thinking twice before yelling when Buzz employed the “oppositional defiance kicker”. She reframed her feelings and took the advice of the writer, Toni Morrison: “Light up when a child comes into the room.”  At first, there was little immediate return. However, the more she released control the better the results. Slowly they were able to talk about what happened and sometimes he would respect her point of view if not accept it. 

Ms. Ellison enlisted her husband to become more involved and at this point her presentation Ms. Ellison’s invited her husband, Jack, a quiet, loving, somewhat distant husband to join her.  They shared they have clashed over different parenting styles on subjects such as TV, food, bedtime etc.  

The Ellisons then opened the morning session to questions.  Mothers and some fathers reported similar challenges and asked for advice. Topics covered a wide span:

  • ADD kids have a hard time with social interaction Most agreed that friends of an ADD student from Grade 1 and 2 had long disappeared, no more play dates.
  • Questions around the value of “consequences”: eg.” if you do this you will lose the use of your laptop” were brought to the fore. Most agreed that ADD kids are less sensitive to the concept of consequences and thus bribery doesn’t work.
  • More often than not the discussion moved to drugs, Ritalin and others.  Are they effective, are they damaging?  It seems these mood changing pills enable the distracted child to be comfortable with her or himself and they became more open to learning.  However, there was no agreement on the long term effect.  Ms. Ellison’s son did use drugs for a time, but then chose to stop. This topic kept re-emerging with no resolution.
  • There seemed to be a general consensus that private schools in Marin County are less effective in handling children with ADD than public schools.
  • The Ellisons encouraged parents to invest time helping their ADD child find something he or she is good at.  This effort does pay off.  Buzz discovered pleasure with  tennis. He is now coaching tennis with little kids and his social interaction is improving.

 Throughout the  morning Ms. Ellison suggested.

Outsource homework.  You have enough to handle in the house and need space from the battles over homework.

Find a way to become an ally – if it means taking the child out for pizza.

Choose your battles, Let some things slide. 

Do your best to balance attention with all children in your family. Those not affected by ADD need to feel that they are being fairly treated.

Try meditation and neuro-feedback. At first she used bribery to get her son to the sessions. But, they had some success with both.

Most important is reconnecting with your child, finding a way to let him or her know you love them, get back to a point where you can hug.

 Finally, Ms. Ellison urged parents who have a tendency to ADD behavior to get tested for diagnosis.  Don’t continue investing energy in covering up.  And, then find a way to slow down.

 The two hour morning session flew by.  Ms Ellison’s book, Buzz, is published by Voice, Hyperion, New York and is well worth the investment.

Books: dyslexia, hyperlexia, child development etc.


This blog provides a list of books that specialists in dyslexia, hyperlexia child development and other relevent  topics have recommended or have written.  I am continually adding titles to this list as I find them on-line or when attending talks.  So, do revisit this blog. While I have not read all those listed I do include a brief description of each book.  Hope this information is helpful to you.

Integration of Infant Dynamic and Postural Reflex Patterns: Svetlana Masgutova. This title may sound intimidating.  However, it is worth spending time  with this information.  About four years ago I discovered the work of Svetlana and her associates. Through her we unearthed the fact that some of my reflexes (like crawling on my stomach) were not properly developed when I was in utero or during the first three years of my life.  Svetlana Masgutova’s  Neuro-Sensory-Motor and Reflex Integration Method for Children and Adults increased my ability to both read and comprehend. I strongly recommend that anyone with a dyslexic, hyperlexic, autistic, aspergers child research this approach. Changes occur. And, I recommend that this be one of the first steps to take with a dyslexic/hyperlexic.  I can say that having my reflexes now functioning at full capacity changes much for me in my ability to read and comprehend.

Smart Moves: by Carla Hannaford. I have used many of the approaches that Ms. Hannaford recommends with very positive results. Some of them are:

  • Dietary awareness, drink enough water, less sugar intake, etc
  • Help the brain to perceive events less stressful by doing physical exercises
  • Create a less stressful environment for people with learning difficulties

Brain Gym: Paul E. Dennison (a dyslexic) and Gail E. Dennison. This book outlines in easy to understand form activities for Whole Brain Learning. This approach was very helpful to me in mastering some of my dyslexic characteristics.

Visualizing and Verbalizing: For Language Comprehension and Thinking: Nanci Bell. Ms. Bell is one of the founders of Lindamood Bell. This company has an excellent assessment process to determine dyslexia and hyperlexia as well as programs to improve dyslexic and hyperlexic conditions. I took the Visualizing and Verbalizing course – seven weeks, five days a week, four hours a day and moved my comprehension skills from Grade Three level to Grade Nine.  This outfit is very professional.

Overcoming Dyslexia: by Sally Shaywitz.   This book has been out for sometime and is considered an important resource by most.  Most of the findings are based on research.  I have heard Dr. Shaywitz speak several times. She has followed several dyslexics from a young age to maturity.  Her focus is very scientific.

The Schwab Learning Website,, lists six books that a parent, Darla Hatton, thinks is most useful for others suddenly faced with the challenges of dyslexia, be they a parent, teacher or dyslexic.

The Schwab Learning Center offers this list:

Parenting a Struggling Reader: by Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats. Their book explains how school systems work along with practical guidance

Wrightslaw: from Emotions to Advocay: by Pam Wright and Pete Wright.  I haven’t read the book but from experience with my dyslexia and hyperlexia, there is much credence in giving focus to emotional issues as part of the process of handling both conditions towards a positive result.

One Word at a Time: by Linda G. Tessler.   A dyslexic’s story:  She’s a PHD and dyslexic.

Dyslexia Wonders: by Jennifer Smith.  It’s a child’s point of view.

Instructions and Assessment for Struggling Writers: edited by Gary A. Troia. It describes several best practices for teaching writing.

Other sources offers these book on dyslexia:

Dyslexia in the Workplace : Diana Bartlett, Sylvia Moody (Paperback, 2005)

Dyslexia for Dummies:  World of Dyslexia says:  this books indicates how to spot the signs and get the proper treatment. This friendly guide shows parents how to identify the signs of dyslexia, choose among dyslexia treatment options, and find an individualized education program for their child. They’ll also find practical tips on assisting with homework, helping a child build self-esteem, and easing the transition to high school and college.

100 Ideas for Supporting Children with Dyslexia : Per World of Dyslexia: this book provides one hundred excellent techniques to support the learning development of dyslexic children. This handy paperback guide includes lists that range from identifying the needs of individual pupils and their learning styles to developing pupils reading, writing, numeric and communication skills

How to Reach and Teach Children and Teens with Dyslexia: World of Dyslexia says this book is a comprehensive, practical resource giving educators at all levels essential information, techniques, and tools for understanding dyslexia and adapting teaching methods in all subject areas. Over 50 full-page activity sheets that can be photocopied for immediate use and interviews with students and adults who have had personal experience with dyslexia. Organized into twenty sections, information covers everything from ten principles of instruction to teaching reading, handwriting, spelling, writing, math, everyday skills, and even covers the adult with dyslexia.
Patricia Oetter, an OT Therapist, during a lecture at PEN (Parents Education Network in San Francisco) re-iterated several times her concern that boys in our school systems are lacking experiences they need for development.  The reason? It seems the schools learning systems are focused on a girl’s point of view.  As a result the experience of risk is diminished, an important component for young boy’s growth. She recommended three books that are helpful in raising boys:

Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph and Paul Stanish

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and  Michael Thompson,

The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their  Problems at School, and     What Parents and Educators Must Do, by Peg Tyre

Primal Teen by Barbara Strauch  At a recent PEN speaker’s panel this book was highly recommended by a Resource Specialist.

Update as of 9.10.  At a recent PEN Speaker Series discussion, the speaker Claudia Koocheck,  Head of School at Charles Armstrong, in Belmont, CA recommended these two books for parents of children with learning challenges. 

  1. Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, (2006), Random House Publishing Group, New York.   It describes how kids perceive themselves. 
  2. Brooks, Robert and Goldstein, Sam (2003), The Power of Resilience:  Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life.  New York Contemporary Books/McGraw Hill.

 Update:  11.10   I attend a talk by Katherine Ellison whose new book, Buzz, has just been published by Voice, Hyperion, New York. The topic:  Attention Deficit Disorder.  I highly recommend it.  There are excellent explanations of the challenges and useful solutions she discovered with her son who is ADD.  Ms. Ellison is also ADD.

Dr. Daniel Korb, a developmental and behavioral pediatrics specialist recomends books by Carol Gray.  These social story books describe a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format.

Finally, I am continuing to evolve this site, including incorporating dyslexic and/or hyperlexic information that others have to share.  Yes, I am looking for your ideas.  Send them via the Comments below.


Information on this blog is intended to complement, not replace, the advice of your own physician or health care professional.