HELP FOR THE HYPER-ACTIVE CHILD by

HELP FOR THE HYPER-ACTIVE CHILD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Increasingly, variously defined terms like ""hyperactivity"" appear in school lexicons to describe patterns of behavior--restlessness, aggression--which interfere with school performance, and often Ritalin or some other drug is prescribed as treatment. Dr. Walker opposes such wholesale prescription of drugs and challenges other trendy treatments--megavitamins, Dr. Feingold's diet, the Doman-Delcato exercises--for muffling the symptoms without searching out the causes. He systematically explores possible sources (brain trauma, physiologically-based depression, food and other poisons) and repeatedly rejects the idea of a single cause for such myriad symptoms, coming down hard on the obvious flaws of any one origin for a wide range of behavior and on the weaknesses of particular theories and their slippery research data. As a neuropsychiatrist, he believes in a differential diagnosis, a battery of tests geared to each child, in order to look for patterns and isolate biochemical (especially oxygen) deficiencies, environmental toxins, individual allergies, psychological stress, etc. Drawing case histories from his own files (Southern California Neuropsychiatric Institute), he demonstrates how obscure or elusive ailments, manifested as hyperactive symptoms, are actually endangered by incautious clinical judgments relying on unproven theories or casual research. And to his credit, he acknowledges experience with intractable cases--an admission single-minded theorists like Feingold rarely make. Significantly, he sees interventions which can't cure as a last resort rather than a first reaction--a wise policy which parents and others involved with children ought to pursue. A forceful advocacy statement for neuropsychiatry, which raises urgent questions about a puzzling syndrome and criticizes the more popular modes of treatment.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1977
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin