Author: Linda Siegel
Format: Paper, 296 PP, 6 x 9
This title is available from the International Dyslexia Association.
To order, please visit eida.org
Understanding Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities addresses how our educational system has failed to identify many children with learning disabilities and calls for the adoption of straightforward diagnostic techniques so that treatment options can be implemented at a young age. Many children who struggle with learning become discouraged in the classroom and isolated from their peers. Many adults whose learning disabilities were not recognized in school suffer from deep feelings of inadequacy that often prevent them from developing close relationships, finding rewarding employment, or living happily.
In this accessibly written book, Linda Siegel challenges the use of complex and time-consuming testing that is currently used to diagnose learning disabilities. In their place, she outlines simple and pragmatic techniques for testing for disabilities in reading, mathematics, spelling, and writing.
The text is enlivened by first-hand accounts of people living with learning disabilities, case studies from literature, and profiles of highly accomplished individuals who have achieved success despite their learning disabilities. Their stories encourage people with learning challenges and those who support them to recognize and nurture each person’s special talents.
Understanding Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities implores families, teachers, and other educational professionals to provide resources and services for all those struggling with learning so that no more lives are compromised.
Dr. Linda Siegel
Linda Siegel is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, where she holds the Dorothy C. Lam Chair in Special Education.
She has conducted research on the development of reading and of mathematical concepts, language development, dyslexia, mathematical learning disabilities, early identification and intervention to prevent reading difficulties, and the development of reading and language skills in children learning English as a second language.
She has consulted on the development of reading skills in elementary school age children in Hong Kong, China, Barbados, Brazil, Argentina, and many places in the US and Canada. In 2010, she was awarded the Gold Medal for Distinguished Contributions to Canadian Psychology from the Canadian Psychological Association. In 2012, she received the inaugural Eminent Researcher Award from the organization Learning Difficulties Australia. She has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden).
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Wake-Up Call
Part I Types of Learning Disabilities
Chapter 1: The Giant with Dyslexia
Chapter 2: Spelling Test Terror
Chapter 3: Picasso, the Artist with Dyslexia
Chapter 4: The Case of Agatha Christie: Dysgraphia
Chapter 5: Winston Churchill: Famous Orator, Superb Military Strategist, Failure at Mathematics
Chapter 6: Hans Christian Andersen: A Case of Non-Verbal Learning Disability
Chapter 7: Yeats, the Poet with Dyslexia
Part II History, Assessment, Diagnosis, and Misdiagnosis
Chapter 8: Jane Austen: The First Educational Psychologist
Chapter 9: “Stupid Tom”: George Eliot on Dyslexia
Chapter 10: The Scientific Discovery of Dyslexia
Chapter 11: Tiptoeing Through the Minefield of Diagnosis
Chapter 12: IQ Worship: Into the Quicksand
Chapter 13: Abuses of the IQ Test: The Case of Johnny
Chapter 14: Not Stupid: A Tale of Two Teachers
Chapter 15: Not Lazy: The Case of Darryl
Part III Coping with a Learning Disability
Chapter 16: Reading Is a Goose Flying: Learning Disabilities through the Eyes of Children
Chapter 17: The Albatross, or Living with a Learning Disability
Chapter 18: Becoming Rhinoceros-Skinned: Learning to Jump the Hurdles
Chapter 19: “School Sick”: Avoiding Detection
Chapter 20: Dyslexia and Murder?
Chapter 21: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
Chapter 22: The String Inside My Head: Struggles and Triumphs
Chapter 23: Drowning, Diving, and Surfacing
Part IV Solutions
Chapter 24: Teaching Basic Skills
Chapter 25: Technology and Other Ways of Helping People with Learning Disabilities
Chapter 26: The Great Cover-Up: What Parents Should Know to Avoid Being Victims of the System
Chapter 27: The Road Ahead
Interview with Linda Siegel at UBC News
“Linda Siegel has written a remarkable new book, Understanding Dyslexia and Other Learning Disorders, which I highly recommend for parents, administrators, teachers and clinicians. It is rare that a book can engage any and all of these audiences as well as this one. It is also surprising how well Professor Siegel, who is one of the most accomplished and widely published researchers in reading, language, and learning disabilities, can abandon academic jargon and conventions so effectively in favor of accessible, engrossing narratives about people with learning disabilities.”
“Throughout her study, Siegel reflects upon the work and lives of remarkable people to illustrate how having dyslexia, or other learning disabilities, is not remarkable. …. Understanding Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities is a helpful guide to a wide range of learning disabilities, how to identify them and how best to deal with them.”
“Her book is packed with information for parents, teachers and for students themselves about the importance of early diagnosis of learning disabilities and how to get help, the best (and worst) remediation techniques, responses to intervention, examples of real children she has diagnosed and the tragedies of those who, unsupported, fell into despair.
“Siegel is a world-class expert who travels internationally to share her knowledge. Her profound insight about working with both a pupil’s strengths and weaknesses is a huge step forward in creating a balanced view of learning. She has written a fascinating, readable, important book that is a gift to educators, parents and students. This is the best book that I have ever read on this important topic.”
—Maureen Moore, Gulf Islands Driftwood
“Linda Siegel’s book poignantly sounds the alarm that we are ‘in the midst of an educational tragedy’ (p. 13); we must hurry up to better identify and support those with learning disabilities. Untreated learning disabilities can lead to suicide, crime, homelessness, anxiety, aggression, unemployment, and destroyed families. Siegel’s book is useful and accessible to people from all walks of life, especially parents and educators. She writes with scientific vigor as well as compassion to illustrate a wide range of topics, such as: types of learning disabilities, assessment bureaucracy, true stories of struggle and triumph from children and adults with learning disabilities, and ways to help those struggling with learning challenges. Her use of case studies is superb, giving an unflinching look at the world of those with learning disabilities, including some of society’s most treasured icons: Pablo Picasso (dyslexic), Winston Churchill (dyscalculic), Agatha Christie (dysgraphic), and Hans Christian Andersen (non-verbal learning disabled). Lastly, Siegel stresses multiple times in her book profound wisdom, which sometimes is lacking in the education system (K–12 and post-secondary): ‘[i]t is important to identify the special talents of people with learning disabilities to increase their self-esteem and to enable them to reach their full potential’ (p. 38).”
—Laura Super, Researcher at the University of British Columbia and tutor of high school and university students with learning disabilities
“The clarity and coherence Linda Siegel brings to understanding the invisible disabilities is both hopeful and disturbing. The message is a haunting call to action. This book needs to be read by every teacher, principal, special education assistant and all stakeholders in the design of teacher education programs!”
—Penny Shepherd-Hill, teacher, Maple Ridge, British Columbia
“Linda Siegel brilliantly demystifies learning disabilities by sharing stories—both good and bad—about real people living with learning disabilities. Linda Siegel provides a face to children and adults with learning disabilities and helps us to move beyond labels to appreciate the whole individual. This is a must-read for teachers, principals, and anyone involved in educating children. I will be using this important resource as a required reading in my special education courses to help future teachers understand that learning disabilities are real and the consequences severe if we do not intervene.”
—Rose Vukovic, Associate Professor, New York University
“In this very readable and superbly documented book, Linda Siegel opens up and demystifies the whole range of learning disabilities, and especially dyslexia. As a leading professional in the field, she gives very practical counsel to parents and teachers in how to help their children and students. We can only hope that they heed the insights. We will all be the winners.”
—Barry Wansbrough, teacher, Headmaster Emeritus, Hillfield Strathallan College, Ontario
“As one of the most influential, internationally renowned researchers in the field of learning disabilities, Linda Siegel has adeptly woven the science of learning disabilities with the personal experiences and everyday realities faced by children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities. The text paints a candid portrait of this neurodevelopmental disorder, dispels myths, elucidates the causes, and advocates for quality in assessment, identification, and instructional practices across the lifespan.”
—Gina Harrison, Associate Professor, University of Victoria, British Columbia
“Dr. Siegel demystifies the field of learning disabilities by presenting straightforward scientific principles illustrated through fascinating historical and current case studies. A simple solution to ill-informed and often harmful assessment practices is proposed which would focus resources on effective interventions for individuals with learning disabilities. Understanding Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities is a rare gem in this field and a must-read for professionals, families, and everyone with an interest in today’s children and youth.”
—Jamie Metsala, Jarislowsky Research Chair in Learning Disabilities, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
“Linda Siegel writes that ‘The assessment of learning disabilities is often excessively complex and bureaucratic.’ She is certainly correct in that assessment. But no one is better suited to untangle this complexity and show us a better way than Linda Siegel. A leader in research and practice for several decades now, Siegel’s command of this field runs from a profound knowledge of the social context of learning disabilities to technical issues in the cognitive science of learning and information processing. The fusion of her immense range of knowledge is in this book.”
—Keith E. Stanovich, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto
“Linda Siegel’s richly informative and highly readable book shows that untreated learning disabilities lie behind anti-social behaviour, teenage ‘acting out,’ and wide scale social problems ranging from alcoholism and drug abuse through homelessness, crime and prostitution. Yet many are remarkably successful despite learning disabilities. This book demonstrates both sides, pointing to practical, inexpensive measures that could reduce negative consequences for individuals, saving ‘millions of dollars and many lives.’ Educators and policymakers everywhere should take heed. It is a ‘must-read.’”
—W. Wesley Pue, Professor of Law, University of British Columbia
“A leading scholar takes us into the harrowing lives and experiences of children and adults with learning disabilities. In putting forth these narratives, Linda Siegel reminds us of the pervasive dilemma—the very straightforward nature of learning disabilities identification and how far we have come in developing effective methods to support these individuals, and yet how complicated the system has made it to do either in a timely, effective manner. A powerful reminder of the costs—to the individual and to society—of not acting on what we know. A must-read for parents, educators, and policymakers.”
—Nonie Lesaux, Professor of Education, Harvard University