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Anne Ford's memoir: The pain and joy of raising a child with LD

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By Anne Ford , Linda Broatch, M.A.

Q: Sibling issues are another difficult topic you address.

Anne Ford: Yes, one of the things that I talk about in the book is how I really sort of messed up dealing with my son, Alessandro (who is six years older than Allegra). So it's important to deal with the siblings in a very honest and truthful way right in the very beginning and include your whole family, siblings and the rest of your family… Alessandro struggled with the idea that he thought I was favoring her. And I said to him, "Well, maybe one day you'd like to be your sister and go to all the doctors' appointments she has" - instead of sitting down and actually telling him what basically was wrong.

But he let me know his feelings about that later. We had a magazine at NCLD called Their World, and he wrote an article in that magazine and he let me have it. It was the first time I really heard him voice an opinion. He didn't say it to me, he wrote it to me.

Q: As a single parent of two children, one with severe learning disabilities, did you feel that you had to set aside your own goals and dreams?

Anne Ford: No, you know, my life was really my children. I really loved working for the National Center for Learning Disabilities and that's all due to Allegra that I did that. But what I wanted was just to be with my children as much as I could. And being a single parent actually didn't bother me at all. I learned that when I did have a husband I had to deal with it on my own anyway, so it was much easier to actually end up making the decisions by myself.

Q: As her mother, what have you provided Allegra that has made her a stronger person?

Anne Ford: I think the fact was that I was there all the time. [While the children lived at home] we had dinner together almost every night of the week. [Currently] I call Allegra every day. We're best friends. I think it's just that the family as a whole working together gives them strength so that they will do the same - I mean Alessandro will be the same way as a father to his daughter, Eleanor, because I think he's grown up that way. Even though his father wasn't around, his mother was. And I think it does carry on. I think I am somewhat the way I am today because I had a very strong mother and father who believed in family. They made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. But all the good stuff carries on, I think.

Q: Have there been times during the writing of the book or the tour that you've had second thoughts about making intimate parts of your family's lives so public?

Anne Ford: It's ongoing. And I had Allegra, you know, be part of the book. At the beginning of every chapter in the book, there's an email to me from Allegra. And she's read it. Alessandro's read it. She's read as much as she can read of it. And sometimes, you know, it bothers her. Like yesterday she went to the Border's bookshop in Cambridge and she said, "Mom there was a huge poster there with my picture on it." She said, "I was so embarrassed." And I said, "Oh, Allegra, they would never know that was you. Look at the picture. You don't look like that anymore at all. So don't be embarrassed, be proud."

But I have to read you the inscription she wrote in my book. She wrote:

Dear Mom, This book will be inspiring to a lot of people out there. You are a great Mom and again thank you for helping me get through a lot in my life. I love you.
Love, Legs

Linda Broatch has worked for many years in nonprofit organizations that serve the health and education needs of children. She has an M.A. in education, with a focus in child development.