Book Review: Smart but Scattered
Review by Deborah Tiel Millard, MA – PEC Office Manager
Does your child have difficulty finishing homework assignments, losing personal items, putting things away and following instructions? If so, your child may have challenges with Executive Function Skills. Smart but Scattered, written by Peg Dawson, EdD and Richard Guare, PhD, is a practical, easily-accessible and well-written parent’s guide to understanding and helping children ages 4-13 who have challenges with executive function skills.
The book breaks down specific executive function skills into two main areas. Those skills involving thinking (cognition) and those involving doing (behavior). Those included in cognition: working memory, planning/prioritization, organization, time management and metacognition. Those included in behavior: response inhibition, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, goal-directed persistence and flexibility. Each of these skills is defined and practical examples are given which help to identify strengths and weaknesses in each of these areas.
Simple quizzes are included, as the authors encourage parents to identify their own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their children. This helps parents to understand how their own strengths and weakness matter as they work with their child. Once these are identified, the book goes on to teach parents how to do several things: modify the environment, teach skills directly and motivate their children to learn and use these skills.
The book contains a large section on how to help a child complete daily routines. This extensive guide contains ready-made routines, adaptations for specific age groups and challenges a child may have, and checklists parents can utilize. These can be downloaded and printed out for everyday use.
The following chapters focus on each specific executive function skill and help parents understand how the skill develops, has parents rate how well their child currently displays this skill and then gives specific examples with steps for how to help their child build this skill in every day life.
The book finishes with a section that covers how to know when to seek more help and how to work with the schools to help their child with information on how to create accommodations and modifications that address these issues.
As the parent of a child with challenges in these areas, I found this book incredibly helpful. I was able to easily identify both my own as well as my child’s strengths and weaknesses in this area. I also utilize the practical examples, ideas and worksheets on a daily basis as I help my son manage these issues. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone working with children who struggle with executive function skills.
The authors have also written Smart but Scattered books directed to teens and adults. To learn more about the Smart but Scattered books, please click the button below.