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Review of "Parenting Children With ADHD"

By Vincent J. Monastra
American Psychological Association, 2004
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H. on Dec 8th 2005
Parenting Children With ADHD

  Parenting Children with ADHD is a nurturing book which should implant, in readers' minds, a heightened level of  practical knowledge and understanding, relating to ADHD, and, particularly, to the parenting of children with ADHD.   As used in the book, the term "ADHD" refers to:  patients presenting solely with problems of attention, or else with attention problems in combination with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.  The author, Vincent J. Monastra, is a clinical psychologist and ADHD specialist, who claims to have participated in the evaluation and treatment of more than 10,000 patients with significant attention or behavioral control problems.

   The parents of children, with ADHD, are the real target of Monastra's practical focused attention.  And, true to this sharp focus, Monastra has skillfully molded a rich wealth of practical information, advice and suggestions into a sort of vade mecum, or guidebook, of potential great helpfulness regarding the parenting of children with ADHD.  In that somewhat narrow sense, the book is a trough from which luminous light pours forth, illumining the oftentimes turbid realm of ADHD; and its luminosity should greatly attract the parents of children, with ADHD, as well as others interested in engaging discourse clothed in the garment of practical lessons, knowledge and insights concerning ADHD.

  Prospective readers should be mindful that the textual contents are largely bereft of "hard" science; the book does not concentrate on an elucidation of scientific mechanisms possibly explanatory of biologic phenomena associated with ADHD; and Monastra seeks to penetrate to the root of ADHD, albeit in a relatively rudimentary, technically diluted way, which may limit the book's appeal to academically entrenched readers.  Some academics may, indeed, recoil from some of the musings and postulations of Monastra, as being arguably disruptive of the edifice of scientifically moored thinking, relating to ADHD.

  A disquieting reality is that the body of extant data and knowledge, germane to ADHD, is woefully undernourished.  At the same time, the trenchant belief of Monastra, is that children with ADHD can make significant contributions to society; and a core purpose of Monastra in crafting the book is to help ADHD children realize their full potential.  Monastra's compassion and concern for children with ADHD actually almost palpably permeates the textual body.  As the result of Monastra's toilsome efforts, pensive readers of Monastra's lay reader friendly contemplation of ADHD, in a book structured with deliberateness of purpose as a series of practical lessons, should emerge feeling invigorated with knowledge, relevant particularly to the parenting, care and treatment of children with ADHD.

   Chapter by chapter, in the course of carefully dissecting and examining the complex corpus of ADHD, Monastra very skillfully engraves "lessons", in the minds of contemplative readers, appertaining to the parenting of children with ADHD, and to their care and treatment.  For instance, a lesson propounded energetically by Monastra, which garners the attention of chapter 5, is that children diagnosed as having ADHD vitally need special assistance in school, in the form of specialized educational services, if they are to be successful scholastically.  In chapter 6, Monastra flags the instilling in a child of a motivation for learning as being an important lesson; and Monastra discourses on how teachers may effectually motivate ADHD children at school, and how parents, of children with ADHD, may successfully motivate their children at home.  The pivotal lesson imparted by chapter 7 is that parents of ADHD children need to have a "lesson plan", shaped carefully to fit special challenges posed possibly by their children.

  In other chapters, of this riveting book, Monastra firmly grips subjects reaching, respectively, to:  the possible helpfulness of sundry medicines, with respect to treating ADHD (chapter 3); nutritional deficiencies (involving, for example, iron, zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids), and their possible association with symptoms of inattentiveness, impulsivity and hyperactivity (chapter 4); the development of emotional control in children (chapter 8); teaching respectfulness to children (chapter 9); and a pithy adumbration of several "antidepressant" activities, designed especially for parents (chapter 10).  "Supplemental Readings", in the form of citations to academic materials, adjoin the main textual body, and may efficaciously function as a research portal, to readers desiring further study of particular, ADHD related subjects.

  An important strength traversing the length and breadth of the book is the many questions, often of a scientifically fractious nature, it, directly and indirectly, raises.  Commencing in chapter 1, for instance, Monastra broaches multifarious questions, of a serious and presently scientifically unsettled nature.  Is ADHD, for example, a "real" medical condition?  If so, what causes this "condition"?  And how should ADHD, in a clinical sense, properly be diagnosed?  Monastra expounds critically on variant criteria possibly relevant to a diagnosis of ADHD, extending to:  inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.  But what does it mean, exactly, for someone to be "inattentive"?  Or "hyperactive"?  Or "impulsive"?  And what medical problems, other than ADHD, may potentially be associated with inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity?  In a related vein, are ADHD diagnosed patients generally screened adequately, for such other possible medical problems?   Myriad questions are embedded throughout the thorny terrain of the text, and plainly should alert the discerning reader that ADHD is anchored to a substantially scientifically unsettled base.

  Although Monastra eagerly tackles the daunting complexity and nebulousness of ADHD,in laudable pursuit of unearthing some of its deeply buried medical secrets, the scientific shape of ADHD remains largely ill defined; and the clinical and research frontiers, of ADHD, are ever shifting.  With this important caveat in mind, the book's contents should be quite edifying and engrossing to: parents, of children with ADHD, mental health professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists, family medicine doctors, pediatricians, social workers, school teachers, and to special education specialists.

© 2005 Leo Uzych


Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University.  His area of special professional interest is healthcare.

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