Book review: Parenting ADHD Now!

Parenting ADHD Now! Easy Intervention Strategies to Empower Kids with ADHD by Elaine Taylor-Klaus & Diane Dempster. Reviewed by Dr Eamonn Walls

Parenting ADHD front cover

Date published: 2016

Paperback price: £13.17

Link to Amazon

Reviewer: Dr Eamonn Walls, Research Associate, Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre

Reviewer expertise: Experience in supporting adults and coaching children diagnosed with ADHD.

What is the book about and who is it aimed at?

The book is about children diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The book is aimed at parents of children diagnosed with ADHD.

The introduction describes the authors Taylor-Klaus & Dempster as “parents, coaches, educators, and the cofounders of ImpactADHD”. There is no doubt of the passion and vast experience of the authors - both are parents of children diagnosed with ADHD and one of the authors has themselves a diagnosis of ADHD.

Readers and parents should be aware that Taylor-Klaus & Dempster are not clinicians (e.g. medics) or academics (e.g. psychologists). The authors self-identify as professional coaches. This has the advantage that Taylor-Klaus & Dempster can bring a unique and thoroughly practical hands-on “coach-approach” to parenting children and young people with ADHD. Their unique coaching perspective brings an original and down-to-earth perspective to understanding parenting and ADHD.

A brief description of the book

The book is structured into 2 parts and 7 chapters. Part One is titled ‘The Highlights’, consists of 2 chapters and gives an affirmative appraisal of the positive sides of living with and parenting ADHD. Part Two is titled ‘The Strategies’, consists of 5 chapters and presents detailed recommendations and advice in specific areas of parenting ADHD including attention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, getting organised and mood.

The authors give guidance and recommendations on a very wide range of areas including noise management (e.g. using music strategically), mindfulness and meditation, fidgeting, diet, exercise, the token economy (e.g. rewards system), time management, and homework among many others. This wide spectrum of tips and tactics provides a diverse and extensive toolbox for parents to draw from.

The authors give limited advice on medication, instead providing more of a commentary with some questions for reflection. This is appropriate given that the authors are not medical professionals.

A notable and perhaps surprising omission is that the authors do not give any detailed guidance or discussion about sleep – a common challenge for children diagnosed with ADHD.

Is the content in line with best practice or research evidence?

There is a large and rapidly growing body of peer-reviewed academic research literature on many areas of ADHD and parenting. However there is very little reference to existing research within the book. Appropriate referencing to this existing research would have been helpful to demonstrate that parents are receiving advice from a reputable and trustworthy source.

The references list (p158-161) gives 28 references. The vast majority of these are online blogs (7 are from the blog) or other online sources of varying levels of reputability including online newspapers and magazines. The fact that this book does not make any reference to recent or relevant research does not take away from its practical utility and emotional support for parents and readers in the form of reassurance and encouragement. However it does strongly suggest that this book is not in line with the most up-to-date research evidence.

Who would this book be helpful for?

The book is full of fun and functional advice which is thoroughly practical and based on the authors’ and others’ real-life stories and experience. Parent readers will probably find the book to be a source of great encouragement and support as the authors empathise with the challenges faced by their readers while offering lots of reassurance and simple, pragmatic strategies. Taken as a coaching resource, this book is likely to be helpful to its target audience.

The book contains a helpful resources section (p152-157) which provides a wide range of relevant websites. Here, as throughout the book, the authors promote their own website, Readers and parents should be aware that there are many online resources available about ADHD, the value or reliability of which may be difficult to assess for non-specialists.

It is highly unlikely that this book will be helpful for groups other than parents of children diagnosed with ADHD. For example, professional clinicians or academics are unlikely to find this book helpful as there is little evidence that this book is guided by the most recent and relevant research.

What is your final, overall opinion on the book?

This book is written in a popular and accessible style that is easy to understand and fun to read. The book is full of helpful advice and practical tips for real-world situations, often based on the entertaining stories and personal experiences of the authors.

Given that there is almost no reference to existing research in the book, and taking account of the non-clinical, non-academic background of the authors, readers and parents are advised to take Taylor-Klaus & Dempster’s recommendations with an open mind and a healthy awareness that the authors’ advice might not always be in line with the latest evidence.