Stopping ADHD or to give its full title ‘Stopping ADHD. A Unique and Proven Drug-Free Program for Treating ADHD in Children and Adults’ combines in-depth knowledge, good writing and clear examples distilled from the authors life-long experience and academic knowledge of learning disabilities.
When I see any book or treatment I have rule of thumb, my quackary test, to guide me on its credibility. Firstly is it referred to as a ‘breakthrough’. This is usually a sign of hype by the book’s editor who really means ‘I’ve never heard of this before’. The bigger the font used, the less credible the book looks.
Secondly, how many things does does it claim to treat. The longer the list of illnesses and psychological problems something claims to help, the more I become suspicious. Assessing a treatment’s effectiveness on a single problem is a long, expensive and difficult task so the more problems they list, the less likely they have done any credible studies.
How does Stopping ADHD fair?
Well the book is focused on ADHD and nothing else so that is a good start but it does have ‘breakthrough’ on the cover. As it is in a small font size and comes from a quote by Lawrence Greenburg, developer of the TOVA ADHD diagnostic test it has some credibility.
Having judged the book by its cover, what about the contents? On reading it I was pleased to find its focus was the Symmetric Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR). This is one of a number of primitive reflexes that newborn children have. This reflex ties the movement of the neck, arms and legs together so that movement of one of these parts results in the movement of the others. This helps the baby learn basic movements such as sitting up and beginning to crawl. The STNR fades away as the baby learns to crawl and then walk, actions that require independent movement of the neck, arms and legs.
The central position of Stopping ADHD is that ADHD occurs in children who have retained their STNR and that this impacts on their education and development. The authors suggest that this occurs when a child has not crawled for long enough before walking. This creates problems when the child goes to school and is asked to sit at a desk and write. To write, you must use the arms but in the ADHD child, the arms and legs cannot move independently. This results in two outcomes. Either the child finds they have to jump up and move whenever they are asked to do writing. Or they contort themselves in such a manner that they can restrain the reflexive movements of the legs. It is here where the book really excels. It gives a clear, logical path between the STNR, a well documented biological / neurological factor, and behaviour in the classroom.
The second half of the book focuses on the treatment method developed at the Miriam Bender Achievement Center that the authors cofounded. The treatment, simply put, consists of the child on their hands and knees crawling whilst an adult provides gentle resistance to the limbs or torso. Through these movements the child loses their STNR and learns to move their limbs independently. This allows the child to sit and move as other children.
The book’s full title claims this to be a ‘unique and proven’ way of treating ADHD and it is in this the book falls a little short. Whilst the actual exercises are unique, the general principal is not. The STNR and the rest of the primitive reflexes have been central to the INPP research and approach to treating learning difficulties for thirty years.
The claim that it is a proven treatment is also problematic. I am sure this treatment works for lots of people who visit the authors’ clinic because the science behind it is solid and well documented. However there is a lack of proper study on the actual treatment. In the appendix the authors write up a study they did with a local elementary school but there is no indication that this study was ever published in a peer-reviewed journal.
This is a good book. The first half is excellent and should be read by parents and teachers alike. The treatment itself is logical and has the same basic principals as other effective treatments. I am however doubtful of how well a parent can read this book and then implement the treatment with their child. This is not a criticism of the book which explains the treatment well but merely a reflection of the fact that delivering treatments like this is a skilled task learnt from years of hands-on experience.
Stopping ADHD, A Unique and Proven Drug-Free Program for Treating ADHD in Children and Adults.
Nancy E. O’Dell and Patricia A. Cook.