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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Review-Alphabet Kids

Alphabet Kids

By Robbie Woliver

I picked this book up at my public library a few weeks ago. The title and cover caught my attention. It’s a book that highlights and explains many childhood syndromes. In a nutshell, I like the book and feel it could be a very useful tool for both professionals and parents.

Mr. Woliver explains syndromes their possible causes, symptoms and typical expected behaviors in a way that is easy to read and easy to understand. I obviously didn’t read the whole book but I did peruse the syndroms with speech and language disorders along with syndromes I’ve become familiar with over the years. I felt the information he provided was both accurate and again easy to understand. Some of the syndromes have “true stories” to go along with the general information. “True stories” are good and bad in this context but for everyone they provide some perspective to the syndrome.

I wouldn’t recommend that every parent go out and buy this book but it is certainly a good reference book for anyone who’s child is in the process of being diagnosed or was recently diagnosed. However, any professional who works with families trying to understand and cope with early diagnosis of a syndrome would find this book very useful (guidance professionals, early intervention programs, hospital evaluation teams, neuropsychologists). I could also see this book on the shelf of every school psychologist to provide teachers with quick and easy information to help parents understand particular syndromes. Teacher’s lack of understanding and in honesty the special education team’s lack of helping teachers to understand syndromes and disorders is usually a problem especially at the middle school level. Yes, I include myself as lacking in this area.

Pediatricians need this book. Over the course of my 20+ years as a speech language pathologist, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have heard parents report that their Pediatrician told them to wait for development to kick in, they’d grow out of it or that nothing was wrong. I hope this has changed and I hope Pediatricians now take more intense courses on child development. I also hope they are more aware of syndromes, disabilities, mother’s intuition, assessment and services available. It wouldn’t hurt to have this book sitting on their shelf too as a reference.

It is obvious that a lot of this information is on line. However, I am old school and still like to have the reference in my hand. I do believe Alphabet Kids presents information in an easy to read and easy to understand format. Mr. Woliver takes out the medical jargon and clearly explains acronyms. Parents especially need a format like this. I’ve worked with families from all different economic backgrounds and levels of education. It’s interesting that parents with the higher levels of education often have more difficulty understanding and accepting their child’s needs.

Hopefully, most students arrive at the middle school with a diagnosis. That doesn’t mean that everyone working with the child understands the behaviors presented by the child. It also does not mean that we are super educators and can immediately design the perfect program for the student. Alphabet Kids could be very helpful in providing initial information for all professionals, staff and administration (administration often does not have a good understanding to the extent of disabilities related to syndromes) in order to help design that almost perfect program.

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