BookBrowse Reviews A Special Education by Dana Buchman

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A Special Education

One Family's Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities

by Dana Buchman

A Special Education by Dana Buchman
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2007, 196 pages

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A mother tells of her daughter's severe struggle with learning disabilities. Biography/Education

From the book jacket: Fashion designer Dana Buchman knew almost nothing about "learning differences" when her oldest daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with neurological, spatial, and motor skill disabilities as a toddler. Furthermore, from the Ivy League to the launch of her own fashion label, Buchman had encountered few obstacles that couldn't be overcome through hard work and determination. Unfortunately, Buchman's well-developed ability to "fix" things would not serve her in her efforts to deal with Charlotte's disabilities; she would have to develop a new skill set to be able to see Charlotte as a person with unique abilities.

A riveting and intensely personal memoir, A Special Education reveals the long and arduous process of Charlotte's development as well as Buchman's own path to self-discovery. Confessing frequent anxiety, guilt, frustration, and anger, she describes the difficult search to find the right school and care for Charlotte and the strain the process put on her marriage and family life. In addition, Buchman tells of her own struggles with excessive drinking and workaholism - and of finally letting go of her drive to be "perfect."

Comment: I'm not big on celebrity tell-all stories, so I didn't hold out much hope for A Special Education.  After all, just because Dana Buchman happens to be a famous fashion designer, why should her views carry any more weight than the countless other parents experiencing similar situations whose stories remain untold?  So I was happily surprised to find her account surprisingly readable; if her solution had been to throw money and experts at her daughter's "problems" then I would have put the book aside, but her point is that she was the one who had to change in order to recognize her daughter's unique abilities - and, as a parent, that's a lesson I can appreciate.  As Library Journal says, "Kudos to Buchman for her forthright memoir, which should go a long way toward lifting the stigma of learning disabilities."  Booklist adds, "Families facing similar issues will appreciate this heartfelt and inspiring book."

This review is from the March 20, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



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