It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend : Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success
As any parent, teacher, coach, or caregiver of a learning disabled child knows, every learning disability has a social component. The ADD child constantly interrupts conversations and doesn't follow directions. The child with visual-spatial issues loses his belongings and causes his siblings to be late to school. The child with paralinguistic difficulties appears stiff and wooden because she fails to gesture when she talks. These children are socially out of step with their classmates and peers, and often they are ridiculed or ostracized for their differences. A successful social life is immeasurably important to a child's happiness, health, and development, but until now, no book has provided practical, expert advice on helping learning disabled children achieve social success.
For more than thirty years, Richard Lavoie has lived with and taught learning disabled children. His bestselling PBS videos, including How Difficult Can This Be?: The F.A.T. City Workshop, and his sellout lectures and workshops have made him one of the most popular and respected experts in the field. At last, Rick's pioneering techniques for helping children achieve a happy and successful social life are available in book form.
It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend offers practical strategies to help learning disabled children ages six through seventeen navigate the treacherous social waters of their school, home, and community. Rick examines the special social issues surrounding a wide variety of learning disabilities, including ADD and other attentional disorders, anxiety, paralinguistics, visual-spatial disorders, and executive functioning. Then he provides proven methods and step-by-step instructions for helping the learning disabled child through almost any social situation, including choosing a friend, going on a playdate, conducting a conversation, reading body language, overcoming shyness and low self-esteem, keeping track of belongings, living with siblings, and adjusting to new settings and situations.
Perhaps the most important component of this book is the author's compassion. It comes through on every page that Rick feels the intensity with which children long for friends and acceptance, the exasperation they can cause in others, and the joy they feel in social connection. It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend answers the most intense yet, until now, silent need of the parents, teachers, and caregivers of learning disabled children -- or anyone who is associated with a child who needs a friend.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
August 14, 2005
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend by Richard Lavoie
Introduction: "The Other Sixteen Hours"
I have been involved in the field of learning disabilities for more than thirty years. The majority of that time was spent as a teacher and administrator at residential schools for children with learning problems. During the early years of my career, I was very involved in the admissions process at these schools and, as a result, conducted hundreds of interviews with parents whose children were struggling in school.
I recall one interview vividly. A mother from Maryland was recounting her daughter's academic history and her struggles with reading. As she spoke, she was somewhat detached and spoke in a clipped, matter-of-fact fashion. She told me that her daughter was scheduled to enter fourth grade in the fall and that her family felt that she would not be able to succeed in that placement.
I asked whether her daughter agreed that an alternative placement was appropriate. With that, the mother's facial expression softened and tears began to well up in her eyes. She told me that the idea to change schools had actually originated with her daughter. She came home from school on the last day of classes and reported that her classmates, who had ignored or rejected her all year, had waited until the teacher left the room during the end-of-year party, picked her up, and placed her in the wastebasket. Sarah, the most popular girl in the class, announced, "You're garbage...and that's where garbage belongs."
The mother had been wringing her hands and looking down while she related this story. She then looked up and our eyes met. "Just one friend, Mr. Lavoie. Just one friend. That's all I want for my daughter."
In the 1970s, those who worked with learning disabled children believed that social rejection was a cruel consequence of a child's learning disorder. Conventional wisdom held that (a) the child had academic deficiencies, therefore (b) he failed in school, (c) this failure caused great embarrassment and humiliation that lowered his self-esteem, and therefore (d) he was reluctant to "join in" with his peers and was teased because of his inability to compete academically with his classmates.
If this theory were true, it would seem logical that once the academic failure was eliminated, the child would enjoy social success. Again, the conventional wisdom held that the learning disorder caused the academic failure, and the failure caused the social isolation and rejection.
However, my experiences with these children demonstrated that this cause-and-effect theory was greatly flawed. I watched as these children entered our school's highly individualized and noncompetitive classroom environment. Lessons were tailored to meet each child's unique needs. Success was an integral part of each child's program. Specialized teaching techniques were used to ensure mastery of the target concepts. For the first time in their academic careers, these children were experiencing genuine success in the classroom. As this success expanded, it seemed logical that their social skills and status would improve. But they did not.