Foreword by Dr. Phil McGraw
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a major challenge for many families in this century. The needs and unresolved challenges of children with ADD are affecting virtually every school in this nation, and a high number of adult issues in the workplace have been linked to adult ADD. Children are our most valuable asset, yet many of our children with the greatest potential are being left on the sidelines.
There is good reason to believe that there are multiple reasons for the upsurge of ADD. The growing toxicity of our nation, the breakdown of family stability, the increasing distractions of technology and video games, and the possible role of various viruses are all areas of concern. However, regardless of the cause, I have seen few solutions or approaches that hold out much promise or hope to the families who are overwhelmed by the diagnosis. I hear the despair and frustration expressed by parents as they go from one source to another with the same result? failure. Too often the label of ADD becomes a stigma of long-term problems that will never go away.
We are not doing enough as a nation to help children and families overcome the challenges of ADD. The majority of our convicts in prisons can be diagnosed with ADD, yet we have no programs for children to avert this outcome or to offer adequate treatment. Most teachers and parents do not know what to do for children with ADD, although they are bright and eager to learn. Some parents are so frustrated in their dealings with the educational system that they have decided to homeschool their children.
Most people know me by some of my pet phrases, and one is very appropriate to the current ADD situation: Is this working for you? The fact is that no one fully understands the problem of ADD, only the symptoms. I feel that as a psychologist with a specialization in behavioral medicine, I should be able to read the literature and determine whether someone has nailed down a cause-and- effect. But what I have discovered is that there are a lot of people trying to stick their finger in the dike, hoping the flood of questions will go away.
What Dr. Lawlis is trying to do in this book is to help families understand their own child and what ADD means to them. He has recognized that this condition can mean many things and have many causes. Parents do not need academic explanations. They do not need prescriptions for a medication that may not work. And they certainly don?t need prescriptions for a medication that can have tragic side effects. Parents need an understanding of what their child is experiencing personally and a plan for the whole family to implement. Dr. Lawlis offers a step-by-step approach focused on accurate assessment and individualized solutions. In this way, progress can be measured and reinforced. He offers ways and methods to meet the educational and practical needs of children who suffer the academic and social stigma of ADD whatever their strengths or deficits. He supplies the biological and psychological basis for each approach, and he has also applied them in his own practice to be sure they are safe and effective.
But more than a gentle plan and personal assessments, this book offers the most advanced approaches available for the treatment of ADD. Perhaps it takes someone with a research background and clinical passion to be able to address and appreciate the progress that most people simply do not know about. Most of the innovations Dr. Lawlis describes have been widely used in the world of behavioral medicine, but they may take ten years or more to become common throughout the educational, psychiatric, and psychotherapeutic fields. But for the reader, they are accessible now in this book. Not all the paths Dr. Lawlis suggests are required for any one individual, but through concerted effort, the parent can become the expert and the child the hero.
When I am placed in a position to help people, I try to ask myself what it is that has caused a person to try and fail in the past, and what it is it that can be offered to change that outcome. I am not known for being a theoretician and for making global statements about the theoretical scope of the human brain. But I am known for putting things in understandable terms and giving people a way to use that information in their lives on an action-oriented basis. I like approaches that have verbs in the solutions. And that is exactly what this book about ADD offers.
My approaches are based on how well people find solutions to the goals they set and then how effectively they act on those solutions. I want you to ask yourself: Are you and your child making measurable progress in dealing with ADD? Are your family interactions improving? Is your child modifying his temper in the classroom or his acting out at the teacher? If not, I would ask you to investigate other paths and seek out new skills and methods.
As I observe the situation of children with ADD and think about everything Dr. Lawlis says within the book, I come to one immediate conclusion: the family has to step up to meet this challenge. Parents cannot remain in the denial stage one day longer. Although I suspect that it can be very scary rubbing elbows with all those doctors and teachers, you have to reach down and bring up the courage to make your child?s needs known and become an active participant from now on. In order to do that, you need cutting-edge knowledge. The book you are now holding, in my personal and professional opinion, holds that knowledge.
To tell you the truth, I was not surprised to see this book written by Dr. Frank Lawlis. He was my major professor in my doctoral studies program at the University of North Texas. He has been a trusted friend and mentor for almost thirty years. I have reveled in the innovations he has pioneered in his clinical work, which have earned him the coveted title of ?Fellow? in two divisions of the American Psychological Association for his scientific contributions in the field. Dr. Lawlis has created many of the behavior medicine protocols for chronic pain, rehabilitation, and cancer that are practiced throughout the world, and his new clinical research efforts are concentrating on neurological impairments, such as ADD.
Based on my trust in Dr. Lawlis and my respect for his integrity and unselfish desire to help people, I have every confidence that you will find powerful answers in this important book. Make a plan, as Dr. Lawlis proposes, and create a purposeful direction. Make it work for you with a purpose.
Nothing comes easy that has true value, and your family is vitally important. I believe that what Dr. Lawlis promises is a path of success. But you are going to have to find it. It will not be given to you, and it is unlikely that you will absorb all the answers you need in one reading or while you sleep. Take this book seriously, and I believe that your returns will be tremendous.
Preface: Sharing the Journey
I did not begin to write this book last year or the year before that. I started this book when I was born, and I have edited it ever since.
My birth was an ordeal for both my mother and me. She was given too much pain medication, by accident. Her labor was halted, and I was declared dead while still in the birth canal. A few hours later it was clear the doctor was wrong, but that did not stop him from issuing another diagnosis that was equally dooming: I was mentally defective due to oxygen deprivation. He told my parents there was no hope that I would progress in school, and he warned that sooner rather than later, I would cease to learn.
Being unaware of my limitations, I found that in a variety of settings, I could fake it until I made it. I developed ways of compensating for my problems much of the time, such as avoiding handwriting...