Book Review: Coping with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and ADHD

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Volume 8, Issue 4
December 2019

Review Written by Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D. 

Coping with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and ADHD: A Global Perspective 
Catherine McBride 
Routledge, 2019 
Paperback, 242 pages 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia and dysgraphia) are shrouded in public misunderstanding and ignorance, which can pose a unique challenge in identifying, treating, and supporting those who struggle with these conditions. Even when we have some understanding, we often look at these issues through a singular cultural lens that limits our scope of knowledge. The ideal education should include not only a detailed description of what these common conditions are but also how it manifests in various groups globally.

Coping with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and ADHD: A Global Perspective by Catherine McBride starts that conversation wonderfully. McBride explores three common neurodiverse conditions—ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia—through a global microscope. She reviews research from around the world and its implications for how these conditions are remediated or treated. Even those of us who know much about these conditions will find interest in the international research presented as it provides us with a fuller sense of how to understand language and attention.

The book celebrates both different cultures and the commonality and universality of experiences. While reading,  one can appreciate the nuances of words, and how we process them across cultures. The author breaks down the cognitive constructs for word reading, helps us understand how certain tests assess specific constructs, and explains why they are useful. Having a neurodiverse condition does not always express itself equally, as the author shows that socioeconomic status, poverty, and school systems can impact the condition. This dialogue is highly appreciated as the financial impact on families for obtaining appropriate services for their children can be substantial.

The book has both an academic tone and a practical one, providing strategies parents can use at home to aid and support their children. These are written in a way that anyone can follow. The information is sprinkled with first-person narratives that enrich and give life to the data and make it quite relatable. Noteworthy is the detailed description of dysgraphia, a learning disability that does not get much attention in the conversation of learning disabilities. McBride sums up the main aspects of ADHD and describes that it is more about self-regulation than about focus and the importance of comorbid disorders.

What was compelling and unfortunately not surprising is the data demonstrating that self-esteem issues often accompany learning disabilities and how this seems to be universal among countries around the world. This impact cannot be underestimated, and McBride devotes an entire chapter to this psychological impact (as opposed to a side note). The chapter includes useful scripts parents and teachers can use in discussing these issues with their children and students and ways to promote self-esteem through skill building and executive function training. It also emphasizes the importance of support for parents themselves. 

Looking through a wider global lens, the author provides insight into foreign languages.  In the U.S., many students with dyslexia may have foreign language classes waived while otherrs struggle through them, whereas in other countries they are required to learn at least English and often another foreign language.

Coping is not a “do this” book, as much as it is a “try this” book. One of the most prevailing themes is that one size does not fit all. I appreciate the visual style of the book. The author “walks the walk” by often boldfacing terms for quick reference. Lastly, there is a comprehensive useful appendix for primers, resources, links to videos, apps, exercises, and summaries for ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. One can even begin the book here to delve into the wealth of resources the author provides.

Coping is an important book in the neurodiversity community. It leaves readers with a more educated perspective, and more importantly, an assertive perspective. We must draw from all of the information globally to deal with these issues and help individuals with ADHD, dyslexia and/or dysgraphia fulfill their actual potential.

Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D.Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Lexington, Massachusetts, where he specializes in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Eating Disorders, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), as well as issues that face students with learning disabilities (anxiety, depression, self-esteem). He currently serves on the Professional Advisory Boards for Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and the National Association for Males with Eating Disorders.  He is also on the Scientific Advisory Board for ADDitude Magazine and website, as well as a Featured Expert on Understood. He is a member of Decoding Dyslexia-Massachusetts.

Copyright © 2019 International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Opinions expressed in The Examiner and/or via links do not necessarily reflect those of IDA.