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Parent Stories

They were proactive about their children’s obstacles…and conquered! Check out these real-life accounts about parents who have turned their frustrations and fears about learning disabilities into positive actions and optimism.

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Parent Stories



A Parent's Perspective — A Success Story

Advocacy For Parents - Developmental Disabilities TrainingThey do happen! Be brave! Stay the course! Many of us as parents are fearful when our son or daughter is diagnosed with a learning disability. Will they succeed in school? At work? Will they make friends? What does it take? My son, Scott, is currently 14 years old and in the 8th grade at a school for children with language learning differences. He was identified at an early age as being severely dyslexic, dysgraphic, and having significant visual perceptual difficulties. Intensive intervention was recommended — but no one knew how or where to get the appropriate help.

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A Parent's Perspective—Setting Goals and Planning for the Transition to College

Planning For College – Transition DisabilitiesMy son, Sal, is a high school senior just outside of New York City. He was first identified at the age of four as a child with a significant language disorder, and then later, as a student with a learning disability and a stuttering disorder. A large part of his current success is related to transition planning, which has helped him gain the academic, emotional and social skills necessary for attaining his goals.

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Book Excerpt: A Special Mother — How Are You Doing?

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In her book, A Special Mother: Getting Through the Early Days of a Child’s Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities and Related Disorders, LD activist and author Anne Ford devotes an entire chapter to several ways mothers of children with learning disabilities can take care of themselves. Here's an excerpt.

 

How to Focus on your Needs

We must not fall into the trap of thinking that concern for ourselves somehow takes away or lessens our concern for our children. We mothers of children with LD have enough concern and worry to blanket the world. Surely, we can spare a little for ourselves!

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Designer Dana Buchman on Raising a Daughter with LD (transcript)

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Fashion designer Dana Buchman's book, A Special Education: One Family's Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities written with her daughter Charlotte, describes the gradual discovery of Charlotte's learning disabilities as well as Buchman's own path to self-discovery. NCLD had the privilege of interviewing Dana Buchman when the book was first published. Ms. Buchman was honored for her work in children’s advocacy at NCLD's Annual Benefit Dinner, in 2006.

 

NCLD: What prompted you to share your story by writing A Special Education: One Family's Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities?

 

Dana Buchman: I travel around the country a great deal in my work as a designer and I realized, in speaking with many of the women whom I've met in my travels, that a lot of families have children with learning differences. And I felt I had something to say, so it really started from that. Charlotte was beginning her senior year in high school, and I felt I was at the end of my journey, so I did it partly for myself -- because I wanted to look at what she and I had come through -- and part of it was a sincere desire to help other families who were just beginning that journey, to alert them to the things that might come their way.

 

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A Parent's Perspective—A Success Story (audio)

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In this Parent Perspective, Julie, the mother of a middle school student with dyslexia, discusses how her son Scott's attitude and achievement levels began to improve after he began attending a school that was Orton-Gillingham based. Julie credited the positive changes in Scott's personality and schoolwork to her son's hard work as well as the staff and resources at his school.

icon_podcastsListen to "A Parent's Perspective—A Success Story" today!

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A Reader's Guide to "A Special Mother"

Getting Through the Early Days of a Child's Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities and Related Disorders

 

I had no signposts to follow back then. I had no idea what to do or who to turn to. Worst of all was the crushing sense of isolation, the feeling that I was the only one going through it and that no one could possibly understand.
— Anne Ford in "Laughing Allegra"


Anne Ford’s first book, Laughing Allegra, was a memoir of raising a daughter born with severe learning disabilities and how that experience affected and shaped her family. Her second book, On Their Own, continued the story as Allegra entered adulthood by focusing on the challenges common to adults with LD as they embark on an independent life.

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Book Excerpt: "Laughing Allegra" — Baby Girl Uzielli

Special Needs Stories - Special Education Stories

The following excerpt is from the first chapter of Anne Ford’s book, Laughing Allegra: The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter with Learning Disabilities.

 

Chapter 1: Baby Girl Uzielli

When [my son] Alessandro was born, I had the usual apprehensions of a new mother. I questioned my abilities and wondered if I would know what to do if he cried or was sick, but that is common among first-time mothers. I was not a major worrier with Alessandro, and had no reason to become one with Allegra. But soon after she was born, I did something I had never done with my son. Late one night, very late, at maybe two or three o'clock in the morning, I woke up from a deep sleep. The only sound from the monitor on my bedside table was Allegra's steady breathing, telling me she was asleep. I lay in bed for a moment, listening for — I still don't know what. For reasons I did not understand, I suddenly felt the need to be beside her. I reached into a drawer and pulled out a flashlight.

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Writing "Laughing Allegra" — An Interview with Anne Ford

Special needs stories-Special education stories Anne Ford is the Chairperson Emerita at the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Ms. Ford's book, Laughing Allegra: The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter with Learning Disabilities, was released in 2003; in this interview, she talks about her reasons for writing this candid book about life with her daughter Allegra, who struggles with learning disabilities.

Anne, can you tell us why you decided to write Laughing Allegra?

I wrote the book for other parents as a story of hope and success. When I first joined NCLD twenty years ago, I wanted to become involved in its outreach to parents, so I answered the phones and responded to the mail. What I realized was that parents have an enormous need for information, insight, and guidance about learning disabilities and their consequences.

I also admit in my book to making many mistakes, largely because the information was not out there the way it is today. I wanted to share my mistakes with parents, so they could learn by them, and to express the fact that for each of us the journey is difficult. It is by sharing our common experiences that we can help each other and our children have a better future.

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Book Excerpt: "Laughing Allegra" — A Guide to the Heart

Special Needs Stories - Special Education Stories

The following excerpt is from the introduction from Anne Ford's book, Laughing Allegra: The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter with Learning Disabilities.

 

..."I think mom has done well telling those people out there that you CAN get help. I didn't want my life in a book at first, so I told mom that and we talked it over and after I talked with mom I thought about it. If it helps other kids, then we should do it, and so I told my mom 'ok.' "
— email from Allegra Ford

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A Parent's Perspective—Success is Sweet: A Story of Parent Advocacy

special-needs-stories-mother-daughter-readingOur district is in Southwest Colorado, and one of the early things I learned was to find as many parents of dyslexic children as I could, and compare notes. Some of us had successful Individual Education Programs (IEPs) for our children, and we would meet at my office on the weekend to read them, laugh, weep, and write down the aspects that were successful and suitable for our own children.

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Book Excerpt: "On Their Own" — So What is It?"

Special Needs Stories - Special Education Stories

The following excerpt is from the first chapter of Anne Ford’s book, On Their Own: Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD.


In 2003 Anne Ford published Laughing Allegra, a memoir about the struggles of raising a daughter with learning disabilities (LD). That book touched the hearts of thousands in the LD community, and soon Ford received a flood of letters, emails, and phone calls from parents of children with LD and AD/HD, many expressing concerns about what to do as their children become young adults, gain greater independence, and become active and contributing members of their communities.

Ford decided to respond by writing a new book,
On Their Own: Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. Drawing from her own personal experience and the numerous resources available to her as a leading LD activist and former chairman of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Ford offers hope and insight, answers questions, focusing throughout on one haunting challenge: Will their children ever be able to live on their own?

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Book Excerpt: Designer Dana Buchman’s "A Special Education"

Special Needs

The Wonder Year

Some people, when faced with a major life change, make a conscious effort to slow everything else down. A woman who’s having a child for the first time might decide to lighten her load at work. Someone who is taking on new responsibilities in her job might hold off on starting a family that year.

I have never been one of those people.

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Writing "Laughing Allegra" — An Interview with John-Richard Thompson

Special needs stories-Special education stories

John-Richard Thompson is an award-winning playwright and novelist. Together, Mr. Thompson and Anne Ford co-authored, Laughing Allegra: The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter with Learning Disabilities. In this interview he sets the stage for this powerful and candid book about Anne Ford, and her life with her daughter Allegra, who struggles with learning disabilities.

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LD Advice for Fathers—From a Dad Who Has Been There

John and Charlie
John and his son, Charlie, at
Charlie's high school graduation.

Financial executive John Langeler’s life changed on the day his son Charlie was born. Unlike most parents who discover their child’s learning disability (LD) at least a few years into parenthood, Charlie’s struggle was apparent on day one. Doctors explained to John and his wife that Charlie had been born with a neurological condition that would result in severe LD. From that moment forward, John geared up and became an advocate for his son. Although some people are prone to think of mothers as the point person for LD decision-making and advocacy in the family, John always saw it as integral part of being a good father to Charlie.

Charlie graduated from the Threshold Program at Lesley University in 2010, and is now employed and living independently with a small group of young adults. John has taken his LD advocacy to the next level by advocating for all people with learning disabilities and difficulties as a member of NCLD's Board of Directors.

In this excerpt from NCLD Chairperson Emerita Anne Ford’s book “A Special Mother”, John looks back on the experience of raising Charlie and offers advice to fathers who are just beginning on the LD journey. John’s words are an inspiration for all parents and the NCLD team joins Charlie in wishing him a happy Father's Day. (For more from “A Special Mother”, check out our Reader’s Guide to the book.)

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Lessons From an African-American Mother, Part 1: Be Wary of the “Disruptive” Label

Lessons From an African-American Mother | Be Wary of the “Disruptive” LabelWhen my son was 3 years old I was called down to the Board of Education to discuss his behavior in preschool. Being a novice mother I had no idea what the discussion would be about. As my son sat on the floor playing with his toy trains, the school administrator proceeded to tell me that my son had “behavior” problems. According to the administrator, he could not sit still in class, which was disturbing the other students. (Were the other students all sitting still at that age?, I wondered.) I was told not to bring my son back to the class for 4-year-olds in the fall. Crestfallen, I took my son home and began to look for other schools. I also began to look at him differently. Prior to that event, I had no inclination that my son was different. He played with the neighborhood children, he was healthy—which was my priority at the age of 3—and he seemed to me to be a normal child.

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