ADHD In Children

Book Review: Quirky Kids

A nuts-and-bolts resource to turn to when one label just doesn’t sum up your child.

by Perri Klass and Eileen Costello
Ballantine Books, $14.95
Purchase Quirky Kids

If you’ve been wondering whether there’s something other than ADHD going on with your child, Quirky Kids can help you sort through any disparate behaviors. As authors Klass and Costello note, kids with ADHD have a “higher-than-normal” risk of Asperger’s syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety, and depression, as well as speech and language problems. Rather than saddle children with these labels, Drs. Klass and Costello, both on staff at the Boston University School of Medicine, use the term “quirky” to describe kids who show signs of these conditions.

The authors observe that ADHD is “a very common diagnosis frequently applied to quirky kids. Although often it fits the bill, this diagnosis is so common that parents need to be sure the evaluation is complete enough…does it answer the question of whether or not attentional issues are the whole story?”

Quirky Kids covers the nuts-and-bolts of an ADHD diagnosis, along with issues like medication management. It also discusses parents’ feelings about their unusual children, and the challenges that children face when “growing up quirky.” Drawing upon their pediatric practice and interviews with parents, the authors offer a broad range of advice touching on family life and sibling relationships. They give guidance on day-to-day issues, like handling temper tantrums and getting through meals and bedtime. They also advise on how to strengthen your child’s social life, offering ways to help him make friends and enjoy parties.

I particularly enjoyed the thumbnail portraits of children’s behavior from parents. One mother talks about her child’s attempt to make friends: “Right now, Pokémon is Lisa’s obsession…she had several good cards, and she went out with the neighbors and traded every one of her good cards for really crappy cards. And I said to her dad, ‘If it helps her get along with other kids, I’m happy.'”

While this book won’t deepen your understanding of ADHD, it will help you do what the title promises: “understand and help your child who doesn’t fit in.”