Listening to the Experts: Students with Disabilities Speak Out, edited by Elizabeth B. Keefe, Ph.D., Veronica M. Moore, Ph.D., and Frances R. Duff, M.A., 218 pages, 2006, $19.95. Paul H. Brookes Publishing, (800) 638-3775, www.brookespublishing.com.
A message of inclusion resonates through the personal stories told by special education teachers, students and their parents in this book.
Almost everyone in the book agrees that special education classes aren’t the answer, because they actually prohibit students from growing into their full social and educational potential. Instead, the contributors to this collection propose a simple yet often overlooked solution to planning an educational program: Ask the students how they want to learn.
Students with neuromuscular diseases will be able to relate to stories of isolation and being underestimated.
Listening to the Experts also is a good read for educators seeking ways to include students with disabilities in a general-education classroom. It sends a message of empowerment to special-needs kids and their parents, that their education belongs in the main school building, not outside it.
Children with Disabilities in America: a Historical Handbook and Guide, edited by Philip L. Safford and Elizabeth J. Safford, 197 pages, 2006, $59.95. Greenwood Press, (203) 226-3571, www.greenwood.com.
This book is for American history buffs who also have an interest in disability in the culture. It offers a collection of essays and historical documents dealing with the experiences of children with visual and auditory impairment, physical disability and mental retardation, as well as those deemed “different, difficult or disturbed.”
This collection reveals the struggle of all children with disabilities (especially ethnic minorities) as the country moved from ostracism, institutionalization and segregation of these children to the effort at inclusion and respect being made today.
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations, by Judy Winter, 258 pages, 2006, $15.95. Jossey-Bass, (877) 762-2974, www.josseybass.com.
For Winter, having a son with cerebral palsy shattered her dream of a “perfect child.” But instead of dwelling on her anger and sorrow, Winter decided her son would be raised like any other child.
Breakthrough Parenting, based on Winter’s 13 years of experience, takes the uplifting approach that parents shouldn’t try to fix their children, but rather interact with them. Winter provides good tips on such topics as surviving hospital stays and knowing the laws affecting your child’s education. This book is a good read for anyone confused about where to start looking for help for a child with a disability.
Summer of Anger, Summer of Peace: the Dennis Dean Story, by Rick Dean, 154 pages, 2006, $16.95. Millennial Mind Publishing, (888) 288-7413, www.american-book.com.
Dennis Dean received a diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age 8; his defining moment occurred the summer he was 12, when he first became reliant on a wheelchair.
In this book, Dennis’ brother Rick fills in both the time before and the time after that summer to give a warm account of Dennis’ journey with his illness, overcoming his anger at his precarious health to achieve a spiritual balance and a capacity to rejoice in life.
In the course of the story Rick Dean also recounts the frailties of a family challenged by several forms of illness and the love that permitted it to prevail. That love is clearly the inspiration for the book, and it will be inspiring to the reader, too.
Brothers and Sisters: a Special Part of Exceptional Families, by Peggy A Gallagher, Thomas H. Powell and Cheryl A. Rhodes, 367 pages, 2006, $24.95. Paul H. Brookes Publishing, (800) 638-3775, www.brookespublishing.com.
This book provides research and explanations about the importance of sibling relationships in families that include children with disabilities. Written like a textbook, it presents social science surveys and data to establish how important it is for siblings to support each other.
The book’s main emphasis is on the uniqueness of growing up in a family where a sibling has a disability. Throughout, siblings share stories of jealousy and competition for the attention of parents, as well as of learning nurturance and acceptance of their brother or sister with a disability.
Noel’s Guide to Social Security Disability: Getting and Keeping Your Benefits, by David A. Morton III, M.D., 368 pages, 2006, $29.99. Greenwood Press, (203) 226-3571, www.greenwood.com.
This comprehensive guide to anything you’ve ever wanted to know about Social Security disability benefits also comes with a CD-ROM encyclopedia of specific diseases.
Real Work for Real Pay: Inclusive Employment for People with Disabilities, by Paul Wehman, Katherine J. Inge, W. Grant Revell Jr., and Valerie A. Brooke, 350 pages, 2007, $39.95. Paul H. Brookes Publishing, (800) 638-3775, www.brookespublishing.com.
The true stories of successful adapted employment make this guide a good read for employees and employers alike. Real Work helps people with disabilities, organizations and businesses understand inclusive employment alternatives and how to implement them. With the help of a job coach, assistive technology and their own skills, those who want to can succeed in almost any industry.
Dean & Me, by Jerry Lewis, with James Kaplan, 340 pages, 2005, $26.95; paperback $14.95. Random House/Doubleday, (800) 733-3000, www.randomhouse.com/doubleday.
For those interested in knowing more about the early life of Jerry Lewis — entertainer, actor, director and national chairman of MDA — Dean & Me: a Love Story provides some peeks into the offstage life of Lewis and his complicated relationship with one-time show biz partner Dean Martin.
In the 1950s, Martin and Lewis appealed simultaneously to 20-somethings at singles weekends in the Catskills, mobsters and sophisticates in New York nightclubs, and children of all ages in movies.
Lewis explains their superstardom by saying the war-weary society of the 1950s longed for the kind of fun entertainment he and Martin provided.
Fina and Raphael, by A. Graham Parker, with illustrations by Chris Berryman, 30 pages, 2003. Fatback Publishing, P.O. Box 21245, Chattanooga, TN 37424, www.fatbackpublishing.com.
This enchanting children’s book by a school psychologist follows the adventures of 8-year-old Fina and her wheelchair, Raphael. Fina and Raphael travel to faraway places because Raphael can fly.
Wherever they go, they promote tolerance, help the reader to understand what it’s like to use a wheelchair and share strategies for coping with disability. This charming tale can be used as an educational tool or just a fun read for children of all ages.
Crossing the Bridge: Creating Ceremonies for Grieving and Healing Life’s Losses, by Sydney Barbara Metrick, 124 pages, 2006, $12.95. Apocryphile Press, (510) 290-4349, www.apocryphile.org.
By focusing on rituals in times of transition, this book hopes to inspire and motivate people to deal with transitional periods in their own lives. After coping with the death of her father and a firestorm in her hometown of Oakland, Calif., Metrick realized the importance of properly acknowledging the losses in our lives.
From changing jobs to developing a disease, Metrick uses firsthand accounts to describe how individuals react to different life situations. Encouraging quotations, Greek mythology and poetry guide the reader through the text with ease. The latter part of the book includes tips on dealing with loss and a list of support groups to assist in times of crisis.