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Editorial Reviews

Narrator Matthew Kugler will remind listeners of the friendly guy next door, and his frank, unrushed performance helps hammer home Dr. Enrico Gnaulati's startling assertion that doctors, teachers, and parents have been incorrectly diagnosing healthy American children with serious psychological disorders. A clinical psychologist specializing in childhood and adolescent therapy and assessment, Dr. Gnaulati reveals how normal childhood behavior can appear to be a symptom of a mental disorder to the untrained eye. This audiobook gives a much-needed sense of perspective and direction to anyone who regularly interacts with children.

Publisher's Summary

A veteran clinical psychologist exposes why doctors, teachers, and parents incorrectly diagnose healthy American children with serious psychiatric conditions.

<.p>In recent years there has been an alarming rise in the number of American children and youth assigned a mental health diagnosis. Current data from the Centers for Disease Control reveal a 41 percent increase in rates of ADHD diagnoses over the past decade and a forty-fold spike in bipolar disorder diagnoses. Similarly, diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder has increased by 78 percent since 2002.

Dr. Enrico Gnaulati, a clinical psychologist specializing in childhood and adolescent therapy and assessment, has witnessed firsthand the push to diagnose these disorders in youngsters. Drawing both on his own clinical experience and on cutting-edge research, with Back to Normal he has written the definitive account of why our kids are being dramatically overdiagnosed - and how parents and professionals can distinguish between true psychiatric disorders and normal childhood reactions to stressful life situations.

Gnaulati begins with the complex web of factors that have led to our current crisis. These include questionable education and training practices that cloud mental health professionals' ability to distinguish normal from abnormal behavior in children, monetary incentives favoring prescriptions, check-list diagnosing, and high-stakes testing in schools. We've also developed an increasingly casual attitude about labeling kids and putting them on psychiatric drugs.

So how do we differentiate between a child with, say, Asperger's syndrome and a child who is simply introverted, brainy, and single-minded? As Gnaulati notes, many of the symptoms associated with these disorders are similar to everyday childhood behaviors. In the second half of the book Gnaulati tells detailed stories of wrongly diagnosed kids, providing parents and others with information about the developmental, temperamental, and environmentally driven symptoms that to a casual or untrained eye can mimic a psychiatric disorder.

These stories also reveal how nonmedical interventions, whether in the therapist's office or through changes made at home, can help children.

Back to Normal reminds us of the normalcy of children's seemingly abnormal behavior. It will give parents of struggling children hope, perspective, and direction. And it will make everyone who deals with children question the changes in our society that have contributed to the astonishing increase in childhood psychiatric diagnoses.

©2013 Enrico Gnaulati (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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surprisingly useful and specific

My expectation for this book was that it was going to be filled with generalities about how kids in our times are being overdiagnosed with a variety of psychological disorders. And the introduction of this book does indeed feel that way. But what was surprising, was the number of specific cases that Dr. Gnaulati discusses in his book. In chapter 8 he discusses a boy whom he called William, and who had been classified with Autism. Dr. Gnaulati convincingly explains the difference between a clinical case of Autism and a introverted, assertive, smart boy which is what William turns out to be. By grounding his explanation in a specific experience, he puts us inside his mind and teaches how to think about these issues.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A must read for every teacher, pediatrician and parent--particularly regarding boys

This book addresses commonsense approaches to typical boyhood behaviors. Interesting and informative on every page!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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For both professionals and parents

If you could sum up Back to Normal in three words, what would they be?

Detailed. Fascinating. Educating.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Kugler does a very nice job at integrating both cognitive and behavioral psychology into understanding the diagnoses ( and over diagnoses) of all of these disorders. It brought to light some areas that I should be investigating further as a psychologist and reframed some some ideas in ways that are applicable to practice.

Have you listened to any of Matthew Kugler’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but this one was great.

What insight do you think you’ll apply from Back to Normal?

Especially in regard to ADHD, I will be thinking more deeply about antecedent behaviors and spending more time investigating parent/teacher complaints.

Any additional comments?

While this book speaks to the professional, Kugler does a nice job at avoiding jargon and explaining it when he does. He also speaks to the parent and makes them aware of the pitfalls in the mental health field. Kugler uses good research to support many of his views.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very Informative read

The book is an easy listen, has many very interesting points with lots of references. Definitely a recommended read.

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Very informative and effective solutions!

I loved the book! The author seems to fully understand all human behavior and gives expert advice on successful parenting an introvert thinker

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Laughing at potty humor

What disappointed you about Back to Normal?

If all it takes to overcome autism is to laugh at poo jokes and make brief eye contact, then my son and millions others are cured. This seems like it caters to parents that want an excuse to keep their kid "normal".

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Zoe
  • 03-27-14

Broad and clearly explained

Where does Back to Normal rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Excellent. The reader speaks with a natural fluency that makes it very easy to listen to and concentrate on. The content was clearly explained, well categorised and full of examples to make it 'come alive'. This is a book I would have really struggled to read and concentrate on but I very much wanted to read. Having it in Audio format is wonderful. I feel I have hung on every word and learned a lot.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Back to Normal?

Many. Too many to mention. Mostly that I could understand behaviours and features of my own clients, clients from the past, and my own children and my own childhood behaviours as he described clinical features.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rahul Mathur
  • 07-13-14

Very good book to read for parents

very good book for parents who are visiting speech therapist, psychologist, developmental paediatrician, speech therapist etc... helps understand their inventive and make an informed decision

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-13-17

Brilliant perspective

I like how the author brings out the unintentional not so healthy consequences of our attempts to help our children.