A Special Mother: Getting Though the Early Days
of a Child's Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities and Related Disorders

by Anne Ford, with John-Richard Thompson

Newmarket Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-557-04852-3.
Reviewed by Judy Miller
Posted on 09/07/2010

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

Anne Ford's purpose for writing A Special Mother was to praise the heroes, the mothers of children with learning disabilities (LD). However, she has gone much further than praise; she has given hope to mothers, like me, who have felt (and sometimes still feel) frustrated and overwhelmed by dealing with their child's learning disability.

A learning disability (LD), like ADHD and dyslexia, is invisible and is a neurological disorder. It cannot be cured. "A learning disability means that a person of at least average intelligence will have difficulty acquiring basic academic skills, skills that are essential for success at school and for coping with life in general. Children with learning disabilities may be as smart or smarter than their peers, but they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling, and/or organizing information if they are taught in conventional ways."

A Special Mother is a must-read for any parent who feels that things aren't "right." Ford, herself a mother to a daughter with LD, encourages moms (and dads) to trust their intuition, to fight (advocate) for their child, and she provides simplified steps to follow, along with sample letters, resources and definitions of terms.

Ford does an amazing job of breaking down and simplifying the complexity of evaluations, rights of children and families, asking and receiving services for the child, the importance of maintaining a paper trail—with copies moms can write on—and how to best work with the child's school. She provides a thorough overview of the maze that is known as special education. Ford doesn't gloss over anything.

A Special Mother speaks to me, the mother I was over a decade ago, when first faced with my son's learning disability. I truly wish this book had been available when I was struggling with fear and denial, looking for help and support and having no success in finding it. Ford's voice also resonates with me now, long after I have made peace with the fact that this is who my son is and that I can't make his LD go away. Her voice is one of wisdom, compassion and hope. One we special mothers need to listen to and embrace.

Anne Ford is the author of the acclaimed memoir Laughing Allegra about raising her severely learning disabled daughter, and On Their Own: Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. She served as Chairman of the National Center for Learning Disabilities from 1989 to 2001, and remains a committed advocate and frequent speaker on LD issues. The great-granddaughter of Henry Ford, she lives in New York City.

John-Richard Thompson is an award-winning playwright and novelist, who has collaborated with Anne Ford at NCLD and on her two previous books. He lives in New York City.

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