Dr. Kenny Handelman is a psychiatrist specializing in child and adolescent ADHD.
I first interviewed Dr. Handelman in 2008 for my MORE Magazine article, Spinning out of control: What happens when the A in ADHD stands for Adult? Finally,a guide for grown-ups.
Since then, I’ve referred to his excellent ADD ADHD Blog to keep up to date and expand my research, and today, I’m happy to announce that Dr. Handelman is launching his book, Attention Difference Disorder – How to Turn Your ADHD Child or Teen’s Differences into Strengths in 7 Simple Steps.
To celebrate the launch, he’s hosting a free teleseminar talking about strategies for parenting ADD / ADHD kids TONIGHT from 8 – 9 p.m. EST. To join in, click here.
I recently spoke with Handelman about his new ADHD book (which has a Foreward written by Dr. Ned Hallowell, co-author of Delivered from Distraction, and many others). I hope you enjoy this excerpt of our conversation.
Zoë: There are lots of books about ADHD out there. What made you want to write yours?
Kenny: I wanted to share my voice and my perspective. I aimed for my book to be readable, usable, almost conversational. I wanted it to sound like I was talking with somebody rather than being sort of a scientist presenting from the Mount.
I also really wanted to put together a framework, the Seven Steps, because I find people get overwhelmed and they’re not really stepping back and looking at a framework, an overview.
Z: So you’re saying they can keep coming back to the book as a reference?
K: Absolutely. Part of the concept of the seventh step of treatment integration is you have to adapt over time. ADHD is different when you’re 10 than it is when you’re six or when you’re 16.
Z: How is your book different from others?
K: It’s different in that I cover more of the science behind alternative treatments than I’ve seen in other books.
Z: You present the ability to hyperfocus as a “difference” in people with ADHD. Are you saying that others can’t hyperfocus?
K: People with ADD are excellent at hyperfocusing. When they hyperfocus it’s almost like they shut off the rest of the world, and then they can become extremely productive. Whereas I think people without ADD can hyperfocus, or they can focus intently on something, but they don’t quite shut off the rest of the world in the same way.
Z: You have a chapter called, Alternative Treatments for ADD (yet you state you’re really discussing complementary treatments). How did you decide which complementary treatments to include?
K: For years I’ve been keeping an eye out looking for ones that lots of people talk about. So, omega-3’s, diet change, things like that; and the newer ones like cogmed (software-based working memory training) and neurofeedback.
It was a combination of what I found research for, what people talk about, and what I thought was kind of out there in the mindset.
Z: What is the one, overriding, most important thing that you want parents to get from your book?
K: To me, the concept behind attention difference is looking at differences and looking at a strength-based approach; and the biggest thing I want parents to get is that, “I can view this positively and by using the strategies and the framework, I can work toward achieving that.”
I want them to realize that there is a lot of positivity around it, using a strength-based model can help dramatically, and this book gives them the specific steps, strategies, and tools to implement that.
But I also want them to realize that it’s hard work. That’s why I left the term “disorder” in when I made up my term attention differences because it is still a disorder.
One of the things I tried to do was to speak to the parents: their frustrations, their challenges, how hard it is for them, what’s going on, why it is difficult, etc., etc., etc. Parents who have read it have said, “Oh my God, I love how you said that part,” and, “It really explained what I was going through.” They see themselves in it, and then they say, “Okay, that kind of makes sense.”