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Jay P. GoldsmithReviewer: Jay P. Goldsmith, MD (Tulane University School of Medicine)
Description: This 224-page paperback, written primarily for school psychologists and other educational professionals, describes the normal and abnormal development of high level cognitive functions called "executive skills." This is part of a series of practical interventions for older children and adolescents with emotional, behavioral, or school based functional problems.
Purpose: The purpose is to describe problems involving the achievement of executive skills of children and adolescents, notably the abnormalities seen in children with traumatic brain injuries and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These are worthy objectives since a significant number of our children suffer from these problems and are often managed pharmacologically by pediatricians, special education teachers, and parents without significant insight as to the roots of these abnormalities and potential nonpharmacologic interventions. This brief book, which is relatively easy to read and understand, meets these objectives even for lay people.
Audience: The book is written primarily for school psychologists and other educational professionals such as social workers, guidance counselors, and special educators. However, it is written in such a way as to appeal also to pediatric neurologists, general pediatricians, and child development specialists. Although it may be somewhat difficult reading, the educated parent with a child with ADHD might also find this book informative.
Features: It is divided into seven chapters that deal with defining and assessing executive skills in children. The third chapter links assessment to interventions and the final four chapters deal extensively with different types of nonpharmacologic interventions which may help these children. An excellent appendix includes interviews for parents, teachers, and students regarding the assessment of executive skills and different types of planning and checklist sheets that may be used as part of intervention strategies. The intervention chapters for individual children (rather than classroom-wide interventions) are particularly well written and may be extremely helpful to educators as well as parents.
Assessment: This is a short book with a strong message especially for those parents and educators who deal with children who have difficulties in achieving executive skills. It is clear, concise, and easy to understand. I am not aware of any comparable book that can be used as a practical guide for parents and educators and that approaches this entire problem without a reliance on pharmacology.