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Two groundbreaking guides explore a burgeoning parenting topic. Executive functioning/executive skills are a series of cognitive skills that regulate behavior and help accomplish tasks, e.g., impulse and emotional control or planning and organizing work. When these skills are weak, children's behavior can be frustrating and vexing for parents who show strength in the particular skills with which their child struggles. Both guides emphasize children's nonperformance as caused by inability, and both illustrate how to improve functioning. Clinical psychologists Cooper-Kahn and Dietzel offer a practical approach through detailed explanations, explorations of causes and effects, and strengthening techniques. Especially helpful are a professional assessment how-to and abundant tips for advocacy at school.
Using a similar tack, Dawson, a psychologist, and Guare, a neuropsychologist, follow up on their clinician-specific Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, with more compassionate and parent-friendly results. They include age-specific questionnaires to assess skills in both child and parent and focus on the fit between children's and their parents' strengths and weaknesses in skill-building techniques and daily living. Notable are several useful checklists and a clear framework for intervention. While both titles include resource lists and clinical examples, Dawson and Guare's personal anecdotes lend immediacy. They also provide lists of toys and games to promote skill development and several relevant web sites. Overall, Smart but Scattered is the more comprehensive, accessible, and hopeful title. Donna Goldberg and Jennifer Zwiebel's The Organized Student:Teaching Children the Skills for Success in School and Beyond showed the tip of the iceberg, and other books devoted exclusively to Asperger's syndrome or ADHD cater to a specific audience. As the first books on the subject to speak directly, comprehensively, and universally to parents, both titles are recommended for parenting collections in public and school libraries; Dawson and Guare's work should be considered essential.