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Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Ellison (The Mommy Brain: How MotherhoodMakes Us Smarter, 2005, etc.) writes about her life on the ADHD battlefront.
When the author's son Buzz entered second grade, her world began to collapse as he became more unmanageable at home and in school. Forced to admit that something was seriously wrong, Ellison heeded school authorities who were urging her to seek psychiatric help for her son, despite her initial reluctance to medicate him. Not only was her son's behavior becoming increasingly uncontrollable, but she realized that she was exacerbating his problems by her tendency to fly off the handle when provoked. She wondered if he inherited his ADHD, "the hallmark obsession of our frazzled era," from her, and she examined her career, which was filled with "heady success" but built upon "constant cravings for conflict and caffeine" and marred by a number of careless blunders. After both she and her son received a positive diagnosis, Ellison decided to spend a year exploring a range of treatments—medication, therapy and family counseling, meditation, biofeedback—to fully understand the pitfalls of her interaction with her sons. Although she is no longer an opponent of medication, from which her son benefitted, she is still critical of the failure of the one-size-fits-all public-education model, made more problematic by staff cutbacks and increasing class sizes. Despite the fact that she did not find a silver-bullet cure, Ellison sums up her year as positive: Buzz has had fewer outbursts at home and at school, and she has learned to slow down and not react negatively to his provocations.
An absorbing, sharply observed memoir.