Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review of Learning Disabilities by Etta K. Brown

Learning Disabilities: Understanding the Problem and Managing the Challenges by Etta K. Brown, is a smorgasbord of information for both parents and educators of children with learning disabilities. Divided into three parts, Brown covers environmental influences on learning disabilities, history and laws pertaining to special education, and how to observe and accommodate special needs both in the classroom and at home.

This book is not one that can be read quickly in one sitting. Instead, it is meant to be read slowly, absorbing each bit of information before moving on to the next part. Brown even tells readers at the end of Part I to stop and be sure they understand what they have read before proceeding to the next part.

The language is technical, yet understandable. It reads almost like a textbook, fully explaining each term in context. Concepts are subdivided in bold print, and bulleted lists allow for easy readability and easy searches within the text. I just wish there would have also been an index in the back.

It is beneficial for educators as it can serve as a reminder of concepts learned may years ago in college. It may also provide new information, especially for those who are not as aware of some of the learning disabilities contained within. Research in this area is constantly evolving, and it can be overwhelming to keep up with it all.

Parents will benefit the most from Learning Disabilities. Brown is good at reinforcing the rights of the parents of the child with learning disabilities. Many parents quickly give in to schools, even when they don’t have to do so. This book arms them with information about the disabilities, accommodations that should legally be made, and the phraseology of the laws that back them up.

Brown also articulates accommodations that should be attempted at home to facilitate the child’s learning process. School and parents need to consistently work together to truly help the child.

A unique aspect of the book is Etta K. Brown’s desire to help parents in any way possible. She has a website that is dedicated to providing information to parents. She encourages parents to email her with any questions, or if they are feeling dejected about the process. The goal is to be an advocate for the child, though she and her partners cannot provide legal advice as attorneys.

I found this book to be a great review of the special ed laws that I learned several years ago. It provided further information about issues I am starting to see more of in my classroom, that perhaps I haven’t before observed. It gave me language to share with parents as they go about the evaluation process. The openness and willingness of the author to discuss issues also provide a lead for me to share with my parents.

Brown, Etta K. (2008) Learning Disabilities: Understanding the Problem and Manging the Challenges. Minneapolis: Langdon Street Press.

Andrea Coventry is a reviewer for

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