Understanding Learning Disabilities by Etta Brown

About the Book:

This work, while written by an academician, is an uncomplicated resource of information addressed to parents who have been introduced to the concept of Special Education for the first time. Overall, this work is a road map of how-to activities which will be of assistance from the beginning to end of the special education process.

Part I is an introduction to the environmental influences since World War II, that are believed to be contributing to the incidence of learning disabilities that is increasing at a rate of 20% every 10 years.

Part II includes a definition and history of special education and its intended role and function in the effort to educate all children. The reader is introduced to the process of determining eligibility for Special Education, and Federal and State Legislation are explored in terms of the parent's rights in the process.

Part III is an exploration of processing disorders as required for a designation of learning disability. Behaviors exhibited in the classroom, a rationale for the behavior, along with modifications and accommodations for the general education classroom are listed. These interventions are applied to the elementary, middle school, and high school environments as an aid in developing the individualized education plan (IEP).

For more information about the author and book please visit: http://www.understanding-learning-disabilities.com/index.html

The author agreed to doing an interview with me. This is what she had to say:

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

Learning Disabilities, the book, is a manual for parents of children with learning disabilities, and is written in three parts. Part I addresses the incidence learning disabilities in our culture, and identifies factors in the environment which contribute to the development of neurological defects which manifest as an inability to learn. Part II introduces parents to how learning disabilities are manifested in the classroom, and how children are identified as eligible for special education. Included are legislation governing special education, tests and testing in the identification process, and the parents role in the special education process. Part II I of the book identifies methods and techniques for helping the child at home and in the classroom.

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

I began the book after retirement following 30 years as a School Psychologist. Many friends after listening to my stories would tell me that I should write a book. One morning I got up and decided “I think I’ll start writing that book”.
During the first year of writing I vented all my anger at the system and the failure of education to fully meet the needs of learning disabled children. During the second year, I edited out all my anger and frustrations, and during the third year I settled in to write a manual which would really be helpful to parents.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

My inspiration has been the suffering children and their helpless parents during the thousands of IEP meetings and assessments of children. I really seek to make a difference with the book. It is written as a road map of what to do, how to do it, what to say, when to say it, questions to ask, answers to expect, and what to do if you don’t get the right answer. Purchasers of the book are assisted through the process free of charge.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My older sister who is also retired, taught special education, and she is my greatest supporter and critic, a continuing role throughout my life.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

The plight of the elderly in our society is that of neglect and exploitation. My passion now is the plight of the elderly, and making preparations to protect my own future as a senior citizen. Holding on to ones assets and remaining independent has become a necessity for me, and it has extended to the intention to help others. Growing up, I remember the founding of the Grey Panthers who fought for the rights of seniors. Now, I am involved in the process.

In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?

I have found since retirement that it is a great time self-introspection, deciding what one is really all about. I have found it a time for achieving personal potential. Total spiritual transformation occurs, I believe, at the end of one’s life, and is, therefore, the most important time in the life cycle. An older brother was taken into a very negligent guardianship. While fighting that process I became a rather competent paralegal. I have received excellent reviews from my attorneys, first “very good” and then “excellent.” A book is planned about the paralegal experience, and my attorney has offered to collaborate.

During this process, I found that I could compose very persuasive communications. During the past year these skills have magnified, and I have a second and third book planned. Hope I get them done in the time I have left. Fortunately, I believe that life extends itself to accommodate the accomplishment of the goals we are passionate about.

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

Staying independent as a senior citizen, and remaining free to complete my transformation into the spiritual dimensions of the female elder. The stages of female evolution are child-mother-crone. The crone is depicted incompletely as the worthless female who can no longer bare children. Unfortunately, the beauty of spiritual completion, transformation, and insights learned are not valued or portrayed when describing the crone. Generally, her new skills are portrayed as those of a witch. I can recognize some of my skills as being consistent with those attributed to the witch, but there is so much more that is not communicated to women entering menopause. I am far from the appearance generally recognized as that of a crone. Here I am at age 67. Sounds like the makings of another book doesn’t it.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on an expose’ of the probate system which allows guardians to rape the estate of senior citizens who are forced into unwanted guardianships. The problem is universal in this country. Elderly people and their insurance companies, and medicare are manipulated in ways that constitute fraud, and it is all done under the auspices of the probate court.

What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as an author?

Completing this three year project at age 70 was a long delayed gratification. I researched, learned writing strategies, and did it as a learn as you go project.

What do you feel is your biggest strength?

Over the years, I have matured, emotionally and psychologically. Now I am happy to be alive with all the problems of living well under control. I experienced menopause as a rite of passage into a developmental stage which has been on-going. This is the most exciting time of my life. My greatest strength now is balancing my desires against the demands of social involvement, and I have learned to do it most effectively. I only work with those whom stumble across my path and indicate a need for help. It is such an honor to be part of the growth process of another human being. I have been successful with everyone who has come across my path.

Biggest weakness?

I now have to search for weaknesses in the way that I once searched to find strengths. I would say that my greatest weakness is Lindt chocolate.

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

In studying, No Child Left Behind, the latest federal legislation regarding the education of special children, I found that the federal government has abdicated it’s responsibility by empowering parents with rights that supersede those of the school. My book addresses the fact that parents are not prepared to assume this responsibility, and my book became a manual that provides the information and insights into the special education process that parents need to be successful in their new role as guarantors of an appropriate education for their children.

I researched this question and found that there are no other books on learning disabilities which share the truth about schools, children and learning as this one does. I assumed the role of child advocate and revealed the information which parents need in order to guarantee an appropriate education for their child. Many authors prepare parents for a subordinate role in working with special education. My book prepares them for a role as collaborator with equal or greater rights in the process. Parents are empowered with information which the school would rather parents did not know. There is a great discrepancy between what the law says schools should do, and the limited funding with which they attempt to do it. The way Special Education is designed, the professional education team is forced to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the child. Children often receive whatever is available in their school. Consideration is seldom given to what is needed by the child with learning disabilities. This is particularly true of learning disabilities because they are so diverse, and the needs of each child are unique. My book empowers parent to claim the right to an appropriate education even if it is not available in their local school. If it is not available in their school district, the child can be transferred to a location where it is available at no cost to the parent.

The factors in our environment which contribute to the development of learning disabilities is missing from most books. The role of parenting and its impact upon development during the first three months is completely missing.

Are you a different person now than you were 5 years ago? In what way/s?

Time has mellowed me into a more subtle activist than I was in the 60’s. Hindsight is an effective tutor if one sees life as a learning experience. Wonderful transformation occurs when one becomes involved with the business of living and experiencing. This book is the culmination of all that I would have told parents during my years in public education. I was trained as a child advocate, but the actual role of the School Psychologist in public education is that of tester. There is very little time to become involved in the actual business of helping children to learn. It was very frustrating to have the skill and not be able to use it. Now I can share that information with parents without being disloyal to employers.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

I have come to believe that life is predetermined. Yet, I also believe that what we choose for ourselves, changes the predetermined out come. We are indeed masters of our fate, and captains of our souls.

Is there anything you regret doing/not doing?

No regrets. All the experience taken together have resulted in an acceptable outcome.

What is your favorite past-time?

Studying the meta-physical philosophies of the world’s major religions has become an exciting past-time. The more I study the more I find that they all have the same underlying philosophy, the differences are in language and cultural interpretation, and practice. This assures me that I am on the right track with my belief system and consequent lifestyle practices.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

You can fine me on the web at www.understanding-learning-disabilities.com, there you will find some articles of interest to parents, as well as a link to purchase the book. Purchasers of the book may contact me via the site for a gratuity of professional advice while they navigate the process of special education. No problem is too big I will give the very best of my professional advice.

About the Author:

Etta K. Brown received her undergraduate degree from the Ohio State University with a major in Dental Hygiene Education and the Masters in Education degree from South Carolina State University with a major in Special Education. The Educational Specialist Degree was conferred at Kent State University with studies in School Administration, and a major in School Psychology.

Through her graduate programs, and internships, the author acquired skills with speech and language, visual-motor training, auditory training, and the teaching of reading and handwriting.

During twenty years of professional experience in the public schools in Ohio, Iowa and California she has worked as a special education teacher, a school social worker and as a school psychologist. At no time, in either of those positions did she feel that she was able to apply any of her acquired knowledge to help children to learn.

Instead, while she didn't always agree, much was learned about what not to tell parents about their children. She also learned how school systems function, why they function the way that they do, why there were some things that it was not in the best interest of the school district for parents to know and why they should not be told.

Those were long, frustrating years watching children being placed in Special education because that was all that the School District had to offer. On the other hand were the frustrated parents who agonized over what to do about their child’s learning problems and the stigma of being placed in Special Education.

Having recently retired from public education and started a practice as a Licensed Educational Psychologist, the author is now free to discuss Special education and share information believed to be in the best interest of parents without being unprofessional or disloyal to employers.

She continues to reach out to parents and children through her writing. Her current book is a summary of all that she would have told parents during her career had she been permitted to do so.

Ms Brown may be reached at www.understanding-learning-disabilities.com

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