In the preface to the second edition of Pediatric Neuropsychology, the editors note that the field of pediatric neuropsychology has experienced substantial growth since the publication of the first edition in 2000. At the time of the first edition, few texts were available that focused on those medical and neurological conditions frequently encountered by pediatric neuropsychologists. In the past 10 years, the rapidly expanding knowledge and research in the field is reflected in the vast availability of a number of volumes specific to various disorders, as well as aspects of practice relevant to pediatric neuropsychology. Given the present status of the field, it is clearly not possible for a single text to provide a comprehensive overview of pediatric neuropsychology the way the first edition filled this niche. Thus, the editors were faced with the daunting challenge of selecting what to include in the updated edition, and how to organize the information.
The second edition differs significantly from the first in several ways. First, an entire section on developmental disorders is added (along with Bruce Pennington as an additional editor), thus expanding the volume to cover a major area of referral for pediatric neuropsychologists. Specifically, the new edition offers chapters covering math disabilities, reading disability, specific language impairment, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and intellectual disability syndromes. To accommodate the additional subject matter, 10 of the original topics were eliminated (meningitis, neurofibromatosis, metabolic and neurodegenerative disorders, Turner syndrome, phenylketonuria, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, sickle cell disease, diabetes, end-stage renal disease, and human immunodeficiency virus). The authors indicate that they chose to include or cut specific topics based on the amount of research attention each area had received since the publication of the original text. Along this line, four new medical/neurological conditions have been added (acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and childhood multiple sclerosis, tuberous sclerosis, perinatal stroke, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders). Finally, two new chapters are offered at the end of the volume: Maxims and a Model for the Practice of Pediatric Neuropsychology, and Interventions for Children with Neuropsychological Disorders.
To streamline the information presented, the editors wisely chose to have the chapter authors focus on providing review and critique of the literature in each area, as well as commentary on evidence based practice and future directions. The chapters each aim to summarize epidemiology, semiology, and neuropsychological patterns, but also to describe and comment on new techniques (e.g., imaging), new research, range of outcomes, developmental trajectories, and psychosocial variables.
All of the chapters are written by notable experts in the field, and provide valuable information about each topic area and the current state of the research. While there are numerous highlights of each chapter, several particularly noteworthy sections warrant specific mention. First, although most authors chose to integrate their analysis of the research literature throughout the chapter, a few opted for a separate “critique” section, which was particularly effective (Very Low Birthweight/Very Preterm Birth, Brain Tumors, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders). Similarly, the chapter on math disabilities offers a bulleted list of “issues in research,” and the chapter on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder devotes a specific section to “Key remaining issues and directions for future research.” The appraisal of the current research on lead exposure (in the environmental toxicants chapter) was thorough and balanced and provides an excellent analysis of this often debated topic. The chapter on reading disability provides a nice integration of medical and cognitive models in the understanding of this topic. The chapter on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders is clear, concise, and well written, and includes a useful table summarizing the neuropsychological findings. Finally, Ida Sue Baron's chapter on “Maxims” offers a cogent model for considering unique “pediatric” aspects of neuropsychology practice (although this chapter may have been more effective were it at the beginning and not the end of the book).
In terms of individual chapter content, authors were provided with a format to keep the chapters similar in focus, but the individual chapters vary considerably in terms of the level of detail the authors chose to provide. As an example, the chapter on epilepsy discusses general principles with relatively little commentary on the range of specific syndromes or treatment outcomes, whereas the environmental toxicants chapter encompasses twice as many pages, and includes separate sections for a variety of specific toxins, some common and some relatively obscure. Another criticism regarding content is that, while intervention is clearly an important aspect of neuropsychology, the addition of this chapter seemed out of place and the chapter itself was perhaps too narrow in scope, in that it focuses on interventions for three disorders (TBI, Autism, and ADHD specifically).
In summary, although this edition does not have the “decisive text” feel that the original book did, it offers summaries and critiques of the state of the science for many of the common presenting areas seen in pediatric neuropsychology, written by the experts in our field, and is clearly a “must-have” for students and seasoned practitioners alike.