When Anne Ford, the great-granddaughter of Henry Ford, learned that her daughter Allegra's "differences" were the result of severe learning disabilities (LD), she faced a challenge that neither money nor position could ease. Desperate for answers, she sought out doctors, schools, and tutors for help. As she journeyed from denial to acceptance, Anne faced rejection, intolerance, disinterest, and puzzlement from friends, family, and professionals, eventually finding her way to the schools, people, and situations that enabled her to raise her family with hope and promise. She became an activist on behalf of children and families faced with LD, and in time, Anne saw her child grow into a vibrant, loving, independent adult with a passion for ice skating and a commitment to help other children with disabilities.
While Allegra's disabilities are unique (as with each LD child), the feelings of pain, frustration, shame, and guilt felt by Anne are shared to a varying degree by all parents of a child with LD. As Anne writes, "When Allegra was diagnosed, I needed information to explain her condition and what I could do to help her, but I also needed a guide to the heart…I needed to connect with someone who had been through it already and could offer words of comfort and the most simple reassuring statement a parent can hear: 'Your child will be fine.' I didn't have that, and that is my reason for writing this book, to enlighten parents and give them hope and help guide them on the oftentimes treacherous journey."
In addition to her personal story, Anne includes three invaluable special sections:
• Answers to the most commonly asked questions about LD
• A resource guide on where to find help
• A discussion from a mother's perspective on the challenges concerning homework, money, relationships, the workplace, getting around, and planning as the child with LD and the parents age.
As for Allegra's thoughts about her mom writing this book, the introduction conveys her message: "I think mom has done well…telling people out there that you CAN get help…I didn't want my life in a book at first [and] we talked it over and thought about it. If it helps other kids then we should do it and so I told my mom OK."