The Mislabeled Child

The authors present a refreshing twist on the usual diagnostic approach.

By Brock Eide, M.D., and Fernette Eide, M.D.
Hyperion, $24.95
Purchase The Misdiagnosed Child

Brock and Fernette Eide, a husband-and-wife team of physicians who run a clinic for children with learning difficulties in Edmonds, Washington, have a unique understanding of such children. In The Mislabeled Child, they advocate a nuanced technique for diagnosing memory, visual, auditory, language, attention, and sensory disorders.

According to the Eides, the problem is that the labels most doctors use to describe children’s problems (learning disability, attention deficit, and so on), identify only general difficulties, and, thus, tell only part of the story. In a chapter entitled “Getting It All Together: Attention Problems in Children,” the authors write, “Like a computer, attention is a complex system and requires troubleshooting and targeted intervention when it breaks down.” If your laptop crashed, you wouldn’t declare it had “laptop deficit disorder” and try a generic intervention. You would troubleshoot the problem to identify the specific fault. Does the problem lie with the power cord? The battery? Did your kid mash a popsicle into the keyboard? “Finding the right ‘treatment’ for your laptop depends upon finding the breakdown that is causing it to fail,” they write.

The Eides describe how to profile a child’s strengths and weaknesses in order to find the mix of education, psychotherapy, and play that will increase her capacity to think and learn. This approach, which the authors call “neurolearning,” is a refreshing twist on the usual diagnostic approach.

While not an easy read, The Mislabeled Child presents useful diagnostic tools, up-to-date information, and plenty of engaging case studies. It is the Eides’ hope that, after reading this book, parents and professionals will rethink the way they view and treat learning challenges.