Reading Journal Entry: Only A Mother Could Love Him, by Ben Polis

Ben Polis is the first adult to write a book about his own experiences growing up with ADD/ADHD. He self-published the book in Australia and then picked up mainstream publishers in AU, UK, and US. He's been featured in major articles in USA Today and other big papers. There's something appealing about a rangy 24 year old telling stories about what a hellion he used to be - especially in an Australian accent.
By his account, Ben was truly a horror - he killed a dog when he was four, was in trouble with the law, brought down power lines, got expelled from 6 schools, etc., etc. He had little or no self-control or ability to concentrate. Only during his last years in high school did he learn how to deal with his distractabiliyy and 'buckle down' to read his goal of getting into college. Which he did. Then he wrote a book about how it felt to be that way (awful), and how he managed to deal with it (with difficulty) and what the best ways to help ADD/ADHD kids are.

It's a successful book; his style is very conversational, to the extent that I got a clear audio image of him speaking as I read. His escapades make this a far from boring story, and he goes beyond the sensational to describe in detail the thought processes involved in a way that should be very useful to parents and teachers dealing with similar kids. He manages to convey his frustrations and difficulties very well; many times he just didn't understand why he was doing stupid or dangerous things, or even, afterwards, why he was being punished. Despite a high intelligence (demonstrated by test scores) he constantly failed in school due to inability to pay attention and to complete schoolwork. One thing that rang very true to me was the ADD child's failure to respond to audio cues; he may fail to follow instructions or seem to be ignoring that which he quite literally does not hear. There's so much stimulation around that the ADD mind just can't connect the dots.

This book is definitely free of the American moralistic mindset - the author states matter-of-factly that kids are going to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex, so parents must prepare them for it if they don't want severe consequences like STDs, pregnancies, and jail time. He incorporates advice and opinion into the narrative and shares out a dollop at the end as well, about techniques that can help ADD kids learn how to control themselves.

Ben's lucky he met with a few extremely supportive adults and institutions. If he hadn't, he might very well be in jail. I read so much about the insidious nature of the 'self-esteem fad' that it was refreshing to read a corroboration of the fact that it IS important for children not to feel that their worthless.

Highly recommended for parents, teacher, and those interested in the subject.

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