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.
About the author
Linda Siegel is a professor 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).
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
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
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 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
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, Canada
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
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
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