Thursday, June 23, 2011

Buzz by Katherine Ellison *****

ADD, ADHD, ODD, a few of the various label applied K-12 students, mostly boys, who have trouble sitting quietly and following the rules. Over the decades, the nature-nurture pendulum has swung back and forth. Today, much like the wave-particle dichotomy of quantum physics, both are simultaneously true and false.

In Buzz, the mother-author presents the latest self-help advice in the form of a memoir, a year-long history of her attempts to help and understand her middle-school son. The presentation is balanced and humble, until the last few pages, where the temptation to assume the role of authority and expert takes over and she passes judgement on all advice from the lofty heights of a published author - though after reading the book we know this is a mother whose 10-year-old son spent the bulk of his time on XBOX, drinking highly-caffeinated Red Bull, not budging unless he was bribed.

However, ignoring the last few pages, this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist offers a excellent overview of the problems of raising an ADD child and the various therapies offered from mainstream to laughable, from scientific to silly. For the most parents in a similar situation, this will be a feel good story, much like sitcoms and soap operas - "My life isn't that bad."

Lots of good information such as the Federal protection for ADD children and the requirements for schools to support them, the generally excellent response to medications with the accompanying side-effect of reduced growth - short stature, and complex nature of the family ecosystem and how the chaos impacts all family members and at the same time how the each family contributes.

Overall, an excellent book for all parents.

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