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No BS Book Review for Adults with ADHD: Taking Charge of Adult ADHD (Recommended)

Updated: Mar 19

Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. R.A. Barkley and C.M. Benton. Guilford Press. 2022. 264 real pages and 30 chapters. $19.95. Amazon link.

The punchline: Taking Charge of Adult ADHD is a very good book for Adults with ADHD, if you are working with a therapist or coach to help make the most of it. It's written by one of the leaders in the field: Russell Barkley. Worth checking out, when your therapist or coach tells you.

Taking Charge of Adult ADHD is a comprehensive and detailed overview of ADHD. Though not easy to read and use on your own, it is a useful handbook. The style is very much in keeping with the care and attention provided at a university treatment center. As a result, some of the approach needs to be adapted to working in other settings. It's not exactly written for the real world.

Taking Charge of Adult ADHD is divided into five sections: (1) evaluation/diagnosis focused, (2) learning your own type of ADHD, (3) an overview of medication options, (4) general advice broken down into 8 areas, and (5) 7 chapters focused on specific areas of life (e.g., other mental health problems, substance use).

A weakness to Taking Charge of Adult ADHD is that it assumes that the reader has at the very least excellent health insurance, if not good financial resources, and plenty of time. As a result, much of the approach taken goes beyond what most people can afford to do. For example, the section on diagnosis assumes that the assessment will include a battery of cognitive psychological tests. Most insurance companies will not pay for this battery. Nor is it required for rendering a diagnosis, in the majority of cases.

Twenty-seven pages are devoted to learning about executive function. I love helping my clients understand executive functioning, but most of those with ADHD tend to have trouble reading this chapter because of the challenges in their executive functioning.

The 40 page ADHD medication section in Taking Charge of Adult ADHD takes the position that ADHD medications are necessary for most people with ADHD and at the very least worth trying. The chapters provide helpful detail on the current medication options, what to expect, and what happens when you have a medication evaluation. One side effect of this approach is that it dehumanizes the people with ADHD who want to function without using these medication and not everyone with ADHD wants to use meds.

In Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, the section with general advice is broken down into a set of rules. For example, rule 4 is to "externalize key information" like using checklists and notes. The chapter includes places to write notes and consider what works best for the reader. I found these chapters helpful and clear and easy for my clients to use.

The final section in Taking Charge of Adult ADHD focuses on topics like managing work or education. These sections are fairly easy to read and thought-provoking, quickly mentioning some tools or further resources (e.g., peer-tutoring). The work section considers careers that might be better suited to someone with ADHD.

Overall, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD is comprehensive and accessible. One way to think of its application is how you might aspire to function in a more perfect world.

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