I read Dr. Ned Hallowell’s “Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder,” the 2017 revision of his 2005 book. This is a follow-up to his earlier book, “Driven to Distraction.” Full disclosure, I actually listened to the unabridged audiobook. It’s read beautifully by Dan Cashman. This was the first book that I read after finding out about my own ADHD.
What stands out about this book?
Dr. Hallowell is open about the fact that he has ADHD. Writing as one of us adds a level of depth to his understanding that many experts are lacking. He wrote this book with the ADHDer in mind, knowing that many of us struggle to finish reading books, even when we start with the best of intentions. So he wrote the first chapter as a bit of a catch-all. Its subtitle is to the point: “Read this if you can’t read the whole book.”
The book is perhaps the perfect introductory material for those new to ADHD, either undiagnosed or recently diagnosed. While recognizing the many struggles brought on by ADHD, the tone throughout the book is overwhelmingly positive. Hallowell absolutely believes that ADHD is a strength, and helps frame it that way as he presents it to you. I really appreciated the following tips that he gave in one of the early chapters.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective ADD Adults:
- Do what you’re good at. Don’t spend too much time trying to get good at what you’re bad at (You did enough of that in school).
- Delegate what you’re bad at to others, as often as possible.
- Connect your energy to a creative outlet.
- Get well enough organized to achieve your goals. The key here is “well enough.” That doesn’t mean you have to be very well organized at all—just well enough organized to achieve your goals.
- Ask for and heed advice from people you trust—and ignore, as best you can, the dream-breakers and finger-waggers.
- Make sure you keep up regular contact with a few close friends.
- Go with your positive side. Even though you have a negative side, make decisions and run your life with your positive side.
What makes this book useful?
The strength of this book is its ability to reach the ADHD novice and give her or him the tools needed to get on a path toward understanding and potential diagnosis. In the book, Dr. Hallowell includes a guide for using the ASRS (Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale).
The beginning questions on the ASRS are these, with each being given a response on a continuum including Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, and Very often:
- How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?
- How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
- How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
- When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
- How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands and feet when you have to sit down for a long time?
- How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, as if you were driven by a motor?
Dr. Hallowell then gives his own self-assessment quiz, which is more descriptive and not diagnostic, but which I found very helpful. As I was questioning whether I had ADHD. the list really solidified in my mind that I wasn’t simply making all this up.
Beyond the basics of ADHD, Hallowell has provided a wealth of information regarding ADHD in this book. There are real-life examples of folks who he has diagnosed through his practice. These stories further serve to bring to life the impacts of ADHD as well as illustrating many potential solutions to make ADHD a positive force in your life.
Topics covered in other sections of the book include: conditions that coexist with ADHD, distinguishing bipolar disorder from ADHD, dyslexia, the role of genetics in ADHD, addictions, treatments, nutrition, supplements, and physical exercise recommendations, getting rid of piles, choosing the right partner, etc.
What didn’t work for me
Honestly there was nothing in this reading that didn’t work for me. I have heard from some people who feel that it’s too simple and would prefer a deeper dive into many of the topics presented, but they agree with my assessment that it’s an excellent introductory book to the ADHD world. Even knowing as much as I do now, I would absolutely consider it my go-to resource for ADHD.
This book is a must-read for the ADHDer or those trying to understand the ADHDer in their life. Dr. Hallowell sees ADHD as a gift, which I know shed some very positive light in my own life as I was struggling to come to terms with knowing I had ADHD. This book answered so many questions I had about ADHD, and explained so plainly the various impacts ADHD can have on your life. But it also comes with a strong message of hope, that properly treated, ADHD can be a great asset to your life.
If you only read one book on ADHD, make it this one. You won’t regret it.
🧠🧠🧠🧠 🧠 5/5 Brains – Excellent Read
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