ADD / ADHD, Books

Being In Control

Being in Control: Natural Techniques for Increasing Your Potential and Creativity for Success in School is a package of two small books and a DVD aimed at helping children with ADHD. This package is unusual in that it is not aimed at the parents but instead is for the child with ADHD to read and watch. There is very little in the way of literature that explains at a child’s level to how to cope with ADHD.
The two books in the package are Being in Control and Creative Painting for the Young Artist. Both are about 30 pages with full of colour photos and illustration laid out it an effective manner. Being in Control covers relaxation techniques and ways to organize your time whilst the painting book has a collection of basic advice as well some ideas for activities.
There are some good ideas contained in the two booklets but there are also problems. There are too many generalities and whilst the book aims to calm, it contains comments that just add to the stress levels of a struggling child. On a page about how to improve your handwriting it says “Write on the line and not below or above it”. As a child I knew what I was supposed to do, I just couldn’t do it.
The booklets are aimed at the younger pre-teen child but sometime the language used is very dense. Terms like ‘self-actualization’ crop up along with phrases like “A pattern is a regular, systematic repetition”.
The DVD that is in the package is a waste of time. It consists of still images of the pages from the booklet with a few additional photos, some new-age type music and a voice over reading everything out. I can’t see any child let alone one with ADHD sitting through it. This is a shame because to see some of the booklet’s techniques demonstrated in live video would be a useful addition to the booklet. However the DVD tries to be a book that is watched as a film and this fails because the medium of film has very different dynamics to that of the printed word.
The whole package feels like Mark Alster, the author, is an accomplished one-on-one counselor for children with learning difficulties who is trying to put down his methods on paper. It is very difficult to capture the essence of a one-to-one encounter on paper and whilst Being In Control comes close in places it fails overall. If the booklets were available as a free download or a website I would not hesitate to recommend them but not for $12 plus P&P.

One Comment

  1. jason alster

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the fair review. In reality, children who watch the movie overall do enjoy it, because it is a first attemp to explain to them what their parents, doctors, and teachers can’t- at their level. Even, if they gain something from some of the tools, it is less expensive than a coaching/biofeedback session- to which it must be compared in price and value. Second, there is video of techniques mixed with the pages of the book-that was not easy, and I did have to do it by myself. I am not Steven Spielsberg. Finally, the tools- of which there are many in the kit- have to be applied to work. The video’s value is in the techniques- not in the medium of being an entertaining video.
    Hopefully, your suggestions will be implemented in version 2.

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