July 26, 2021
In her fourth book, Anne Ford, the long-time advocate for children with learning disabilities, turned her attention to the impact of LD on families. The Forgotten Child explores territory often overlooked in the literature, yet is challenging for many families. Following is an excerpt from the book’s introduction.
What About Me?
Sibling issues are not often thought of as one of the most urgent “crisis issues” when it comes to learning disabilities and related disorders—at least not at first. I define crisis issues as those such as the initial, sometimes shocking, diagnosis of LD; or trying to find the right help in school; or dealing with the mind-numbing, infuriating bureaucracy of the education system. Those issues demand immediate attention. They require action even as they sometimes cause a debilitating sense of paralysis and indecision. They overwhelm and can become a parent’s sole focus, with all other problems shrinking in comparison.
Crisis issues eventually pass and your life as a family settles down…. And now, just when you thought you could settle into a somewhat normal way of life, along comes the shock of discovering that one of your non-disabled children has been having trouble all along…
It is not always easy to see this trouble because not all children react in the same way. Some siblings react with anger and resentment. Some feel an obligation to compensate by becoming the perfect child. Some will try to act as a “third parent” and develop a domineering attitude. Some siblings feel guilty or ashamed of bypassing their brother or sister in certain skills. They run the gamut, and trying to figure out which category your children fall into can be a real challenge. Families, too, run the gamut in the ways they handle the challenges. Some parents handle the various dilemmas well. Some are completely done in by the challenge.
Through her personal experience, plus myriad interviews with mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers living with children with LD, Ford brings clarity to this often overlooked issue, while providing insights and advice as to how to best deal with the non-disabled, or “forgotten” child.
The Forgotten Child by Anne Ford with John-Richard Thompson, published by Capri Island Publications, is available in many bookstores and at amazon.com.
Anne Ford, the parent of a now-adult child with LD, is the former Board Chairman of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. She and co-author Thompson have written several other books based on Ford’s experience including Laughing Allegra, On Their Own, and A Special Mother.