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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
It's frustrating, even upsetting to pick up a book as important as I believe Misbehaving Brains to be and discover that the author, Jeheudi Mes Onyemachi Vuai, wrote a book, Gray Matter Matters, based on his work as a cognitive neuroscientist and board-certified neuro-psychologist back in 2011 and has had only one very brief review of that work on Amazon. Perhaps that earlier book was too erudite and detailed for the average reader, suited only to other doctors and scientists in his field, and chances are they read the book but don't write reviews. Well, hopefully, Misbehaving Brains will be better suited to those who need to read it: parents, educators, and everyone who asks themselves why so many "good children go bad."
In just over 20 chapters, written in a simpler style than the earlier work, Dr. Jeheudi Mes Onyemachi Vuai presents the stories of children who, once in school, manifest great difficulty with learning, especially reading and language skills. In most instances, these children are tested and ultimately placed in special education programs. Others are dismissed, as it were, as simply having behavioural problems stemming from psychologically harmful home environments. Or they have ADHD. Or Dyslexia. Or Aphasia ... labels that Dr. Vuai explains later in the book. But what is it that Dr. Vuai really wants readers and educators to grasp? It's that many of the problems these children have are the result of neurological, not psychological problems.
"We believe that many children have been misdiagnosed, mislabeled and misunderstood by professional educators. These children are frustrated learners and use inappropriate behaviors as a coping mechanism."
I was drawn to this book because of concerns I have about my own 13-year-old grandchild. Throughout primary school she has had learning issues. Her erratic behaviour and inattentiveness in the younger grades had us thinking ADHD. Her teachers blamed her attitude on the same. When she said words and sentences danced on the page, making reading difficult, we thought "Aha!" Dyslexia. After reading a memoir written by a fellow author about her life raising 4 grandchildren with FASD, I had another "Eureka" moment: perhaps my granddaughter has a touch of FASD! After all, FASD children do indeed have brain damage. What good is all this guesswork? What is needed is investigation by qualified people like Dr Vuai, and reading Misbehaving Brains might be the first step in enlightening a caring but uninformed public.
That's why I believe Misbehaving Brains is a very important book for all parents who are puzzled and concerned by their "good" child's behaviour when it is deemed "bad." Read this book and you might recognize your child, or if you are a teacher, you might hear alarm bells ringing before you yell at the child who just doesn't seem to be trying, is insolent or withdrawn or angry. There may be a far different explanation for that child's behaviour than what we all assume. Highly recommended reading for the sake of our children and their role in the world of the future.