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Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential Paperback – January 2, 2009
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|Who is this book for?||Parents of 4- to 13-year-olds||Parents of 14- to 19-year-olds||Parents and Young Adults||Adults|
|Use practical tools to:||Identify your child's executive function strengths and weaknesses||Identify your teen's executive function strengths and weaknesses||Clarify strengths and goals, and stay motivated||Identify your own executive skills profile|
|Learn how to:||Motivate your child and problem-solve issues in daily routines||Motivate your teen to promote independence and self-sufficiency||Build and maintain an independent lifestyle||Improve organizational skills, time management, and emotional control|
"The best parent resource on executive skills that I have seen. As a parent of three children, one of whom has learning disabilities, and as a special education associate who works in the classroom, I highly recommend this book. It shows there is hope for children who are struggling, and offers practical, detailed advice."--L. Libbey, parent, Hampton, NH
"Filled with real-world examples and solutions, this easy-to-read book is the first comprehensive guide to the management of children's executive skills. It gets to the heart of the matter, offering both parents and teachers accessible and highly efficient means to cope with a gamut of obstacles faced by children of all ages and abilities."--Kristina Mecelicaite, MEd, special education coordinator, North Central Charter Essential School, Fitchburg, MA
"Do you feel stymied by your child's failure to live up to his or her potential? Have you run out of ideas about how to handle the situation? Look no further--this fascinating and readable book is packed full of useful ideas that will help you understand what the problem is and how you can help. It presents practical and proven techniques based on rigorous scientific research."--Peter Farrell, PhD, University of Manchester, UK; past president, International School Psychology Association
"Drs. Dawson and Guare translate cutting-edge research into meaningful, practical, well-organized, and easy-to-implement strategies that parents can use to enhance a child's natural executive abilities. This brilliant book is by far the best on the topic that I have read to date."--Russell A. Barkley, PhD, ABPP, author of Taking Charge of ADHD
About the Author
Richard Guare, PhD, is Director of the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders at Seacoast Mental Health Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Dr. Guare's research and publications focus on the understanding and treatment of learning and attention difficulties. He is a neuropsychologist and board-certified behavior analyst who frequently consults to schools and agencies. He is coauthor of bestselling books for general readers, including Smart but Scattered, Smart but Scattered Teens, Smart but Scattered--and Stalled (with a focus on emerging adults), and The Smart but Scattered Guide to Success (with a focus on adults). Dr. Guare is also coauthor of The Work-Smart Academic Planner, Revised Edition, and books for professionals including Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, Third Edition.
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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.
Top international reviews
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.