ADHD Comorbidities & Related Conditions

Book Review: Kids in the Syndrome Mix

How to cope when it’s not just ADHD.

by Martin L. Kutscher, M.D.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, $19.95
Purchase Kids in the Syndrome Mix

This book is subtitled “The one-stop guide for parents, teachers, and other professionals,” and it lives up to that claim. When it becomes clear that a child has comorbid conditions, I now give her parents this easy-to-read overview instead of a stack of books.

In the first two chapters, the author describes the mind-sets parents and teachers must adopt if they wish to maximize a child’s potential (while minimizing their own frustration). I endorse Kutscher’s idea of adopting a “disability outlook.” This means recognizing that each child is a unique individual who may not follow “standard” rules found in many parenting books.

In the second chapter, Kutscher offers two broad rules: 1) Keep it positive, and 2) Keep it calm. Then, he shows how they look in practice by giving examples of negative attitudes displayed by parents and teachers. He reminds us that we can make a big difference in the way our children behave and feel about themselves. And he follows up with guidelines for changing their outlooks.

Subsequent chapters help readers make sense of the alphabet soup of psychological disorders, many of which overlap with each other. A chapter is devoted to each disorder, and readers are given an overview of testing and treatment, medications, and likely outcomes, as well as clues to distinguishing between overlapping conditions. For example, the chapter on bipolar disorder (BD) lists the differences between BD and ADHD. Prolonged temper tantrums, suggests Kutscher, may be more characteristic of BD, while shorter outbursts are more typical of ADHD.

This book is not meant to be the final word. (A section near the end suggests additional resources.) But for many parents, it will be all that’s needed to move forward, in collaboration with a doctor and mental-health professional, toward effective treatment.

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