Book Review: “A Parent’s Guide to Special Education”

Getting help for your special-ed child.

by Linda Wilmshurst, Ph.D., and Alan W. Brue, Ph.D.
American Management Association, $16.95
Purchase A Parent’s Guide to Special Education

It’s never easy for the parents of a child in need of special education. First, they must work with (and sometimes in opposition to) teachers, psychologists, and school administrators to determine which specific services the child needs in order to learn effectively. Then they are required to jump through a seemingly endless series of hoops to make sure that the child actually gets these services. It’s a confusing, time-consuming process — one that can sap parents’ spirit, along with their bank accounts.

A Parent’s Guide to Special Education can help parents survive this difficult process more or less intact. This encyclopedic volume, written by a pair of school psychologists from Florida, maintains that it’s not enough for parents to ask lots of questions. They must ask the right questions — about educational and medical testing, psychological evaluations, legal rights, and so on.

What do the various educational laws mean for your child? What do assessment results mean? How can you be an effective advocate for your child? Authors Linda Wilmshurst and Alan W. Brue outline all the important questions — and either answer these questions themselves or tell parents where they can get answers.

This book also provides welcome reassurance to parents who worry about their special education child: “Sadness is the emotion we encounter most,” the authors write. “Parents realize that the vision they had for their child’s future has been altered or dramatically changed. So, if you feel this way, we want you to know that you are not alone.”

As a writer and educational specialist who has learning disorders, I found this book indispensable. Don’t go to a school meeting without it!