By Anne Ford , John-Richard Thompson
Blending memoir with self-help, Laughing Allegra is the remarkably honest and inspiring story about the struggle and triumph of raising a child with learning disabilities, written by Anne Ford, the great-granddaughter of Henry Ford and the Chairman Emeritus of the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Anne Ford explains, "Laughing Allegra is the book I could not find when my daughter was diagnosed with multiple severe learning disabilities. I call it a 'guide to the heart,' for it is intended to inspire parents, to show them they are not alone and that we all - as parents of children with learning disabilities - share the same language of hope."
We'd like to share with you an excerpt from the book, a chapter entitled, "On Their Own - Challenges of Life," in which the author describes her hopes and fears as Allegra transitions from childhood to independent adulthood.
I would have loved to give Allegra a party when she turned twenty-one, not only to celebrate her entry into adulthood but also to celebrate her passing successfully through all the difficulties of a childhood with learning disabilities. At the party we would have raised our glasses and said, "Well done, Allegra. It's over now, you have left all your problems behind." But as always with LD, such dreams are only dreams: The reality is that learning disabilities are never cured. They are lifelong challenges. For adults with LD there is comfort in knowing that the often-tortured days of school and homework are over, but now they are faced with new, sometimes greater challenges involving work, independent living, transportation, and relationships.
Parents of young men and women with LD may find the transitional period from childhood to independent adulthood a time filled with concern. The parents were always there for the child, able to protect them from those who did not understand. Now, as the young adult moves out of the house and maybe to a different city, worries flood in upon those left behind. How will they get by? How will they get around? Will they live a happy life? Will they meet someone special in their life? Will they get married? Can they get married?
I have had every one of these concerns. I have heard every one of them from other parents.
They begin when the child is very young, as questions in the back of the mind. "I wonder how it will be?" they ask themselves, but the child is still a child. Those concerns can wait. Then the child becomes a teenager, and the future is bearing down. Soon the child is a young adult ready to leave the nest. For the parent, there is no escape. Concerns are now realities, and for many, this is the first time they feel utterly helpless. What was once seen as welcome protection by the child with LD, may now be seen as intrusion. What was once advice, may now be considered nagging. Parents often feel helpless when they hear their adult child talk of difficulties at work or in a relationship. They want to help, they know they can help, but they also realize that their help may actually be harmful - there is a lot to be said for allowing people to learn how to handle problems on their own. At the same time, it is extremely difficult to stand by and watch someone in distress, knowing you have the power to change the situation by reaching out with information or a helping hand.
I still struggle with this on a daily basis. Should I intervene in Allegra's personal life? What is the appropriate amount of help? Am I going beyond simple advice, or am I doing too much, thereby preventing her from learning to handle day to day problems?
Newmarket Press was founded in 1981 and has published more than 300 books, including the bestselling What's Happening to My Body? One of the few mainstream trade publishers in New York City that is independently owned, Newmarket Press puts out 20 to 30 books per year in areas such as childcare and parenting and personal finance.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.