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From The CriticsReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: The executive functions of the human brain are integral in our daily functioning and absolutely critical for optimizing the educational process. Unfortunately, they are fragile and can be affected in a multitude of ways by various diseases and developmental problems.
Purpose: In this book, the author endeavors to focus on the role of executive function in education, the ways in which executive functions are often disrupted, and ways to work with children to compensate for executive deficits.
Audience: An appropriate audience clearly would include educators, school counselors, psychologists, and speech and language therapists. In major measure, the contributing authors are gathered from the staff at the Institute for Learning and Development and surrounding institutions. While experienced in their respective areas, the list of contributing authors has missed key areas of expertise, including neuropsychology and adolescent psychiatry.
Features: The book is divided into three main sections: a theoretical overview, executive functions in specific diagnostic groups, and interventions. The chapters have been organized to convey a logical progression of knowledge acquisition and are interconnected in a fluid manner. Individual authors refer to other chapters when expanding concepts and further illustrating ideas. The inclusion of a chapter on the unrecognized syndrome of nonverbal learning disabilities is especially thoughtful. The final section on interventions contains a mix of general and specific practical suggestions for remediation and enrichment of executive functions in the classroom. The one major weakness is the fact that the chapter authors sometimes refer to obstacles in assessments, interventions, etc., but these are not genuine obstacles; rather, they stem from the chapter authors' lack of expertise in particular areas. Furthermore, the editor has irresponsibly revealed privileged information about how to complete assessment instruments that render them useless and does a serious disservice to the evaluators and children who rely on these tests to make accurate diagnoses and recommendations.
Assessment: This represents a unique look at how executive functions fit into educating students and the ways in which this can be problematic in certain diseases and developmental problems. There is competent coverage of the issues and helpful suggestions for managing executive difficulties in students. Nevertheless, a broader representation of key fields involved in this topic area would make this a much richer text and it could do without exposing critical information regarding assessment instruments.