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A Daughter With LD Grows Up: An Excerpt From Laughing Allegra

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By Anne Ford , John-Richard Thompson

Each situation calls for a realistic assessment of how much the parent should do. The level of disability must also be considered. Some adults with mild learning disabilities may need no help or guidance at all. Others like Allegra may need much more outside help.

I have discovered through both observation and research that there are certain basic elements involved with so many issues faced by adults with LD. They are threads woven through a life, sometimes prominent, other times hidden below the surface; but one or more of them seem to find their way into every difficult situation.

They are:

  • Impulsivity. By this I do not mean the occasional spontaneous purchase or decision to go to the movies, but a constant inability to gauge the effects of an action taken. For instance, many people with difficulties in math may never really know how much money they have in their bank account, yet will continue to buy things at the spur of the moment, mindless of the detrimental effect on their personal finances. Allegra recently booked two nights in a hotel where she would only be staying for one night. She didn't do this because she is a reckless spendthrift, but because the hotel said they only book a two-night minimum stay. Instead of looking for another hotel, Allegra impulsively agreed to the terms. Consequences are often overlooked or never considered at all.
  • Time management is another challenge. An inability to judge the time it will take to get from one place to another or when to pay bills or when to meet a friend, can lead to endless difficulties. We all have situations where we are late for an event, but many people with LD have a chronic inability to show up on time. Sometimes this is a matter of organizational difficulties, other times they simply "forget" they were supposed to be somewhere.
  • Lack of judgment is another thread that runs through many lives of adults with LD. By this I mean an apparent inability to understand the reality of certain situations; for instance, whether a friend is really a friend or simply an acquaintance, or if the person is actually someone who may be harmful.
  • Openness and honesty. The last and most important thread is also the most positive. It is not something that comes automatically with LD. Being forthright about learning disabilities can be the key to solving so many of the difficulties presented by the threads of impulsivity, time management, and lack of judgment. Nearly every problem can be alleviated if the person without LD is made aware of the learning disability. Instead of being irritated, they will usually go out of their way to be accommodating. Instead of growing distant from a friend who constantly shows up late, they will make allowances and even help come up with ways to improve the situation.

With this in mind, I offer lessons I have learned about how parents and their young adult children can learn to deal with the challenges of life. The next four chapters address how these challenges affect the ability of the adult with LD to get around by car or public transportation, manage finances, gain employment, and create and maintain healthy relationships.

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.

Comments from readers

"Oh, this was wonderful reading everything that Ive experienced myself over 2 years time since my son was in a auto accident & had a head injury. This on top of disabilities from a difficult birth which complicated his life more so under the duress of trying to manage dyslexia and ADD each day. It hasnt been easy for him nor for me as his mom/best friend/ardent supportor.But we are a good team I must say. He has been thru alot but we see progress now since we sued the school district recently and won. Nothing in the way of a monetary reward, Our suit was for the school to pay him real academic attention & get him the right books and audios,tutors etc. his situation calls for-finally the case is settled and they are stepping up.Thankfully he understands what a fine opportunity this is for him . At his age of 16 life is rapidly bearing down on him and he is aware of it and doing what he can to handle the changes and challenges. Im going to get him your book ( so I can read i! t too). He can truly benefit by the example you and allegra offer your readers. I still worry what it wil be like for him when he graduates and feels he's ready to spread his wings and move to manhattan where his sister is.Perhaps he too can write a book expressing what its like to be labeled'special needs student' and what good comes from the love ,support& guidance of all those who helped by encouragement & thru his own persistance to achieve."