The following article has been published with kind permission
from Lew Mills,
PhD, MFT, a Bay Area psychotherapist working with Attention Deficit
by Lynn Weiss, PhD
Reviewed by Lew Mills,
Some books are just too hard to tackle when you are an adult with ADHD, even
if they are intended for an ADHD audience. After a couple of excursions into
multiple theories and a lengthy examination of the research, we have checked
There are two styles of books that are more effective for ADHD Adults. The
more common style is to be very stimulating, with lots of variety, pictures,
cartoons, sidebars, cute stories and so on. This can work well at engaging and
keeping your attention. I personally enjoy reading these. A fun example is Time
Management for Unmanageable People.
The downside of this style is that it can spin you off into more tangential
thoughts and plans than you are ever going to be able to follow through on.
While it appeases your ADHD curiosity, it also plays to all of its distractibility.
You can have a lot of fun reading it, but at the end, you are not sure what
you are going to do about what you learned.
The second style for Adult ADHD books is more rare and, I think, more useful.
This gives you a very simple clear-cut executable plan for addressing problems
and maximizing the assets of having ADHD. Weiss book falls clearly in this
second category. On the surface, it may seem relatively dull. But if you pick
it up and read a page or two, you find yourself instantly engaged in advice
from someone who knows just what you are struggling with. This kind of book
is likely to end up being useful over years to come.
The way the book works is to cover a very wide range of issues that many ADHD
adults grapple with, all in a simple standardized format. Each dilemma you face
is first phrased in an assessment question like “Do you procrastinate starting
projects?” or “Do you regularly burn pots, lose contact lenses, or
overflow the backyard pond because you dont pay attention to what you are doing?”
She then proceeds to describe you succinctly in a few paragraphs. OK, now you
know that she knows you, (even if you dont have a backyard pond).
Here is where she takes you through what becomes a familiar process to work
on each problem. It really does feel like a well-structured “course”
in achieving focus. Each “lesson” is very concise and tightly constructed,
respecting the effort you are putting into understanding it.
After describing just what you do, she explains “Why this happens.”
This is the part that may be familiar from other ADHD books, and it is very
helpful to understand the “whys” of ADHD. But then she goes to the
part on “What not to do.” Often this section includes the injunction
to not get down on yourself about just being the way that you are. Hopefully
you have already heard this before, but even so, it bears repeating!
The next step is about what you can and should do. There are some marvelously
clever tricks here that I have not seen elsewhere. For example, she describes
a technique of “anchoring” yourself at the point where you are about
to drift off on a tangent, so that you have a way to get back on track when
your tangent is completed.
As you begin to tell yourself that this technique will never work for you,
you are surprised that the next section acknowledges “What makes this hard
to do.” Her recommendations dont just leave you with the feeling that
if it doesn’t work for you, you did it wrong. Instead she tells you how you
can work more successfully at the toughest parts of the task.
Throughout the whole process, Weiss acknowledges the three parts of yourself
that you bring to your struggle with ADHD: the hurt you feel at a world that
rarely understood you, the ways you can get the world to accommodate you now,
and the “true you” that you will rediscover. This perspective pulls
the book far past being just a collection of clever tricks, to where she really
grasps how and why ADHD adults do what they do, in a way that helps you make
So here is a book that you will be able to come back to over and over, that
will teach you very usable strategies, and that acknowledges that you are already
trying a lot harder than it may look to others. This one is definitely worth