Book Review: Towards a Positive Future:stories, ideas and inspiration from children with special educational needs, their families and professionals edited by Janet O’Keefe published by J&R Press 2011Posted in Books and Publications, Tweets on 03/05/2012 04:23 pm by Janet
This book is essential reading for anyone currently involved in the upbringing and education of a child or children with special needs. In this well documented and skillfully edited volume, our current process for ensuring a ‘special’ child is appropriately educated is clearly and comprehensively explained. 15 real life stories of special needs children illustrate perfectly the many facets of the problems that face those who are intimately involved with educating children with special needs. We have all known the frustration and coldness of bureaucrats who count the pennies and tick the boxes with scant regard for the identity and needs of the individual’s life they are affecting. The personal accounts in this book bring home the difficulties many have experienced in understanding exactly what was wrong with their child, what effective and positive steps could have been or were taken to address their child’s needs and how these were (or were not) applied (promptly or otherwise). No punches are pulled. There is no kowtowing to those authoritative officials who have learned to become more efficient in their job by making hard and fast decisions that have ignored the human, emotional needs of the people involved. Reading such stories should give new heart to people who may be struggling to cope with a cumbersome, and seemingly cold and indifferent system. They are not alone. I write not as an entirely uninvolved individual, for I have had my own 19-year battle with authorities in seeing to the needs of my husband who has had increased requisites as his health has deteriorated and I have been observing the difficulties my own daughter has been having with her severely disabled child. To return to this excellent book: by way of essential contrast, it also highlights the positive side of the children’s achievements, no matter how small. It makes clear how it is important for us to change our attitudes in dealing with our children’s individual impairments and with the authorities that seem to be at odds with their statutory role to support these needy children. The final mission statements exhorting us to be the instigators of positive reform in this field are inspiring and worthy of adopting. It is not ‘the system’ but ‘we’ who can effectively improve matters. Armed with the expert knowledge and lists of supportive organizations and people in this book, and driven by our passionate involvement, we should be able to ensure that the future of our special needs children will be much improved.
Written by Dr Rosemary Westwell PhD, MA TESOL, MA Ed, B Mus, BA Hons
PhD thesis “The development of language acquisition in a mature learner” : http://eprints.ioe.ac.uk/48/