Understanding The Problem And Managing The Challenges

I class myself as being blessed, none of my children had any sort of learning disability, but I know many parents who have lived with this problem. My first hand experience with coping with people who had learning disabilities was during my six years of running a Computer Training Facility aimed at the low income, working poor, and homeless population of a large city. I saw how those disabilities affected the child after he or she had reached adulthood. It saddened me, I saw many functionally illiterate people, the socio economic effect it had on their lives was devastating. I would spend hours pondering the question, what went wrong? How could we, the very definition of democracy, technology, learning and compassion, permit this to occur?

In someways Etta Brown has answered many of my questions in Learning Disabilities. She is more than qualified to talk on the subject, her academic qualifications include:

Etta Brown holds the BS Degree in Dental Hygiene  Education from The Ohio State University, the Masters of  Education Degree from South Carolina State College, and  the Educational Specialist Degree from Kent State  University. She is a certified special education teacher,  school social worker, school psychologist and Licensed Education Psychologist.

Now retired, Etta has decided it is time to write the definitive book on the subject.

This is no How To Turn Your Child Into Einstein In 21 Days, this is a very scholarly and well thought out book that looks at many of the aspects of our parenting abilities, educational system, and the world we live in.

Written in three sections, it is by far the most comprehensive guide I have read on the subject. Why does a child have a learning disability? The reasons are many and complex. There are so many variables that virtually every case is different. Just a few of the causes might be medical, genetic, socio economic, or environmental. Often times the reasons include more than just one factor. How can a parent be a supportive tutor assisting a child with a homework assignment if they themselves do not have the skill set because of low literacy? Or how can they help if they are working three low paying jobs to pay the bills and are never at home?

The family make up is but one possible scenario that might be the cause. There are a myriad of other possibilities.

Section one of the book leads us through the process of identifying that there is a problem. While Etta Brown by no means is advocating self diagnosis and treatment, she does offer some great advice on how to identify a potential problem. If you start to see the problem occur it is time to reach out to the professionals.

Section two of Learning Disabilities takes us inside the schooling system. I suspect that very few parents understand the legal obligations of our schools. The schools have both an objective legal obligation, and a more subjective moral obligation to ensure that every child receives education that is appropriate to the child.

As I was reading this section I recalled another book that I read recently on loosely the same subject. In it the author made the argument that the ‘No Child Left Behind’ initiative had in fact back fired. It removed much of the moral responsibility and encouraged passing children on to the next grade for economic reasons rather than academic considerations. Etta Brown does not explore this subject, I wish she had. However she does talk in depth about the recourse that parents have in ensuring that their children receive appropriate education.

I think it is fair to say that you quickly become involved in an alphabet soup. There are different assessment tests, one might lean to pointing out strengths, the other might lean toward finding weaknesses. It is important that a parent understand what is happening. Statistics are a wonderful subject, and one that I could write my own book on. Depending on your point of view, the glass is half empty (negative), or half full (positive).

If you have a child that you believe is failing not just in school but also at home, it is time to go knocking on the schools door, but make sure that you are armed with the information you need.

The final section takes a look at managing the challenges that you and your child face. How you can be supportive in a positive fashion. No, I did not make a mistake in that last sentence. You can be supportive in a constructive or destructive fashion. Pick wisely.

I have really only touched on the subject of Learning Disabilities in this review. This book is a wealth of knowledge and should be made available both to schools everywhere and parents who think that a child might have a problem.

To order your copy just click on the Amazon link above.

Simon Barrett

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