The authors of Smart Kids With Learning Difficulties: Overcoming Obstacles and Realizing Potential have had more than 20 years experience working with and advocating for gifted children with learning disabilities. In this new text, they present learning and teaching methods that have been applied successfully to both the gifted and talented and the learning-disabled populations. --Gifted Child Today, Vol. 29, No. 4, Fall 2006
About the Author
Richard Weinfeld is a national leader in the education of gifted children with learning difficulties. Weinfeld was instrumental in coordinating the Montgomery County, MD, gifted and learning disabled program and is currently an educational advocate in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. He has also taught courses on GT/LD at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of two previous books, one on GT/LD and the other on overcoming the learning challenges of boys.
Sue Jeweler, a retired teacher, spent her 30-year career in Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools. Mrs. Jeweler has been a consultant to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic, Berns & Kay, and Street Law.
Rich Weinfeld, Linda Barnes-Robinson, Sue Jeweler, and Betty Roffman Shevitz have written a very comprehensive, clear, and practical handbook for helping bright children with a range of learning and developmental difficulties. Based upon their rich experiences developing nationally-recognized programs for gifted kids with learning disabilities, ADHD, and Aspergers/Autism (and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders), they provide practical and creative recommendations for helping kids with uneven development. Providing many examples and exceptionally useful suggestions for educational strategies, accommodations, and modifications, the authors provide parents, teachers, and mental health professionals with a deep appreciation for the unique needs of gifted children with learning differences.
As a neuropsychologist in private practice, I will continue to recommend this book to my clients. Unlike many books that espouse theoretical positions but are thin on suggestions, Smart Kids with Learning Difficulties offers practical advice and guidance for helping students with a wide range of developmental differences.
Finally, we have a practical guide to the effective education of bright but struggling students which can be used by all players on the team: parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, and the students themselves. The earlier giftedness is recognized and learning disabilities are unmasked, diagnosed, and planned for, the less likely it is that these students will be defeated by repeated failure and the burden of emotional baggage that often develops in the wake of crushed self-confidence. Our country cannot afford to waste the brain power and creativity of our "different learners."
This powerful book brims with optimism and genuine affection for gifted kids with learning disabilities. The crux of the message is to discover and engage the student through his/her talents and interests while directly teaching strategies for getting around deficits and using accommodations and assistive technology to build success. The sections in Chapter 3 on adaptations and accommodations and what does and doesn't work are particularly strong. The glossary will help parents and students interpret educational buzzwords like metacognition.
In my work with GT/LD students, both in the public school classroom in Maryland and now in my college advisory business in Oregon, I have seen amazing strides made by kids who have been taught by the principles of this book. I recommend it highly to my clients.
I am a mom with a very bright 3rd grade son who has been diagnosed with a learning difference. So I appreciate all the help I can get navigating my way through the special education/IEP system. What sets this book apart from the many others I have read is the incredible number of practical solutions and suggestions in it. I am using these ideas at home, can pass them onto my son's team of teachers at school, as well as evalute my son's current program. With a supportive tone and charts full of specifics that focus on bringing out the positive from the many challenges a special child may face, this will be a valuable guide that I will treasure and learn from for years to come. This book offers substance, not the fluff I often come across. I highly recommend it.
I am a high school teacher who sees the spectrum of abilities in my regular classes, as well as my AP and IB classes. I wanted to find a book to help me work with the students who struggle, but I did not find this one to be particularly helpful.
While I see some value in this book in helping to develop strategies for elementary and junior high students, very little of it is directed toward the older students. I appreciate the intent of the authors to help parents and educators work within the system to develop each student's potential, but I have some concerns. The book seems to be based on an ideal school system, where the teachers have small classes and unlimited resources at their disposal. I work with 25 to 30 students in each of my six classes, and I do not see any practical advice to help meet the needs of each of my students.
I desperately want to help each student to succeed, but have not seen much in the way of practical solutions. The idea of "teams" for each student is laudable, but I have not seen how to make this work, especially since I only have a 45-minute planning period each day. I am willing to stay after school, but that still does not give me much time, and trying to schedule a team for each student is impossible.
I also have issues with the advice that seems to contradict itself in different chapters. Teachers are encouraged to have high standards and rigorous curriculum, but are also instructed to give assessments that are not in the area of the student's difficulty. This seems, to me, to be exacerbating the problem. I would like practical methods to help students develop the areas in which they are weak, not ignore them.Read more ›
It is not everyday that one comes across a book that profoundly alters the discourse about education; though here is one that does, which at the same time could not be more deeply grounded in proven school practices. If your child excelled in school in the past, though is performing with increasing inconsistency in the present, this book will offer you some answers to that problem. Although the strategies outlined by its authors are intended to help Gifted and Talented Children with Learning Differences (GT/LD), their utility is far greater. If you stop to reflect for a moment, all of us fit the description of that acronym; we are, in fact, all "smart kids" in one way or another, who nonetheless face difficulties not only in learning, but in applying what we've learned, throughout our lives. So the issues presented by the authors here bear relevance well beyond their possible application to the needs of special students. They apply to everyone and everything that goes on in our schools - from the nursery level to post-doctoral programs. Identifying and constructively developing the unique and innate gifts and talents of each person remains one of the principal aims of education. Yet learning how to capitalize on learners' differences, rather than insist on homogeneity in their performance, is the issue that most profoundly plagues most educational systems. It also makes our nation's growing insistence on standardized testing so misguided in its attempt to ensure real and enduring educational achievement.Read more ›