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No Easy Answers : The Learning Disabled Child at Home and at School

Mark L. Batshaw, M.D.

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Reviewer: Allison Martin

Sally Smith, the author of No Easy Answers : The Learning Disabled Child at Home and at School, is the founder and director of the Lab School of Washington. The Lab School is renowned for its approach to the education of children with learning disabilities. No Easy Answers is a well known classic about learning disabilities in children. This book stands out for its overview of the characteristics of children with various learning disabilities and the impact of learning disabilities on a child’s life, family and functioning in school.

One of the features that remains so outstanding about this book is the in-depth analysis of the emotional and educational impact of coping with learning disabilities on the child, parent and teacher. Her approach is both sympathetic and practical. Many parents will feel a sense of relief to find themselves and their children described in a knowledgeable and considerate manner. This book also can help put your difficulties in context, as you may find that only parts of the book relate to your child - as it likely that your child has only some of the learning disability issues described or may have difficulties that are less severe in a number of areas.

While you will want to supplement this book with more information on specific methods of teaching children with learning disabilities, Sally Smith includes detailed instructions on the best methods of teaching and environmental conditions conducive to learning. For example, she includes a very useful IEP at the end which is both practical and specific. No Easy Answers addresses such practical subjects as : organization and structure, managing time and space, socialization, parent's concerns and feelings, legal issues, and teaching approaches. Her discussions of behavior management techniques and behavior issues common among children with learning disabilities will be helpful to many parents and teachers.

A quote from the book:

"Counting is at the root of all computation. Adding is a shortcut to counting forward; subtracting is a fast way to count backward. Since addition and subtraction are counting forward and backward from a given point, then multiplication is counting forward in groups and division is counting backward in groups. Counting is sequencing. Counting is order. But the learning disabled child cannot remember sequences. He has disorder.

"The concepts of more than and less than are dependent upon our perceptions of larger, longer, big quantities, as distinct from smaller, shorter, little quantities. To know that three is more than two, you have to understand one in relation to the other. Math consists of seeing relationships, and that's what many learning disabled youngsters can't cope with; they can't group one set together as distinct from another set. Math requires focus on the main principles, the binding force, and a disregard of unessential information."

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