Monday, November 2, 2009

Two Family Stories

We were recently reminded of two books, both worth reading by parents of children with significant learning difficulties. Neither is new, but both are still very timely and deal with the kinds of problems many parents share.

Laughing Allegra, The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter with Learning Disabilities,by Anne Ford, is the story of how Anne came to realize the extent of her daughter's learning difficulties and to find resources to give Allegra an opportunity to maximize her potential. Certainly Anne Ford, of the automobile family, had contacts available to her that most parents simply don't have. But that didn't diminish her concern, her efforts, or her worries about what would become of Allegra when she grew up. She dealt with many of the issues that all parents of children who struggle need to face: explaining her child's difficulties to her families, balancing the needs of her other child, and maintaining a sense of optimism in the face of challenges. A follow-up book, On Their Own, Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD, tells that story of what happened to Allegra as she entered adulthood and then goes on to give advice to other families.

A Special Education, One Family's Journey through the Maze of Learning Disabilities, by fashion designer Dana Buchman, contains less guidance for other families, but is a highly personal, very readable story of Dana's daughter, Charlotte, and how her entire family dealt with Charlotte's learning difficulties.

Not surprisingly, both authors went on to put their talents and contacts to use in the service of children who struggled. Anne Ford went on to become involved in the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), where she served as Chairman of the Board, and established a scholarship for students with learning disabilities. Dana Buchman has become involved with PROMISE, the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

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