Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential MP3 CD – August 6, 2012
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About the Author
Richard Guare, PhD, is the director of the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders. His research and publications focus on the understanding and treatment of learning and attention difficulties.
Susan Ericksen is a three-time Audie Award-winning narrator who has recorded over 500 books. The winner of multiple awards, including twenty-plus AudioFile Earphones Awards for both fiction and nonfiction, Susan is a classically trained actress who excels at multiple narrative styles and accents.
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Despite the claims on the cover, the entire approach of this book is nothing revolutionary, it's just straight up behaviorist methods: if you do what I like, you get a star; if you don't do what I like, you get a punishment. Lots of people I otherwise respect believe in behaviorism, and it can be very effective in the short term, but it can cause longterm problems.
But what I found really offensive about this book was its utterly baseless fear mongering: there are hypothetical examples of a day dreaming child growing up to have auto accidents. What??? Is there ANY scientific correlation between childhood daydreaming and auto accidents? Of course not! And even if there were, would you really rely on an eighteen dollar book to deal with it? There are other hints that because your ten year old gets distracted cleaning his room, he may "fail to launch." Or be unable to hold down a job. GIVE ME A BREAK. If messy rooms and not doing chores were predictors of later development, then wouldn't like 80% of adults still be living with their parents? And where is it shown that submission to adults' expectations results in greater independence in adulthood? I want to see that study. In fact, the one middle-aged guy I know who is unemployed and lives with his parents is extremely organized, punctual, etc. Go figure.
And this is from the parent assessment: “I believe in starting right away, no matter what the task…” WHO would answer yes to this? No matter what the task? You never reflect? You never pace yourself? You never weigh priorities? Where’s the self-help book for that guy?
Turns out the science behind this is very flimsy. Executive function is hard to measure. Even if you can manage to get your child to comply with behaviorist tactics without creating power struggles, there's no evidence of longterm benefit--certainly not in reading or math scores:
"But despite the promise and the hype — not to mention the many millions of dollars spent — it turns out there isn’t solid evidence that improving executive function actually leads to better grades. That’s the startling finding of a new meta-analysis, published in the journal Review of Educational Research, which looks at 67 studies of school-based programs that target executive function. In fact, this latest research found no support for the idea that improving those skills can lead directly to better test scores in reading or math."
This book isn't an instant silver bullet solution, but it provides new ways of thinking and conceptualizing about your children's (and your own) strengths and weaknesses. If your children are also very smart, I also *highly* recommend reading this book together with:Living With Intensity: Understanding the Sensitivity, Excitability, and the Emotional Development of Gifted Children, Adolescents, and Adults When you understand low and evolving EF skills in combination with overexcitabilities/intensities, you can finally stop asking, "What have I done wrong? Why are *MY* kids -- who are otherwise so bright and capable -- so sensitive/dramatic/disorganized/fidgety/distractable/loud/rebellious, etc.?" Because they *aren't* like other kids. They are shooting stars who will challenge but delight and amaze you! And the _Smart but Scattered_ book will help them manage those overexcitabilities through developing better executive skills.
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What is extremely useful is that it has questionnaires that elicit both the parent's and the child's cognitive strengths and weaknesses. And then individual chapters telling you how to develop those executive functions.
Now I know why my daughter and I argue a lot. Our brains are wired differently, so skills that I could do with my eyes closed, she finds impossible and vice versa. If you suspect that you and/or your child are ADHD/Autistic, this book can help you.
The chief difference between this and the "recipe" type books on this crippling syndrome is the description of "Executive Functions". Executive Functions are simply the skills every human develops during early to late childhood in order to survive, learn and get along with other people. ADHD is simply the dysfunction of some or all of these functions. The premise of the book is that once you have identified which executive functions aren't fully developed, they can be broken down into manageable units, taught, practised and eventually mastered. If you or a loved one for whom you are responsible suffers from ADHD, get this book. Get an extra one for the teacher or the doctor. It is worth twice the price.