A Special Education and Allergy Season

15 Mar

I was just reading an excerpt from Dana Buchman’s book, A Special Education. This is about her journey as she discovers her daughter has dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and other learning problems. As I was reading this, I kept wondering when I would read something new and intriguing. The excerpt basically tells about her starting off on a successful career and then how she had a rough transition into motherhood.


There really is no story there. I don’t know of any mothers who ever really and truly were prepared for their transition into being a parent. Exceptional or not, having a baby around changes a person’s life dramatically. Coach and his young wife are expecting their first child, and everyone tells him his life is going to completely change. He says everyone keeps telling him that, and he has gotten a bit tired of hearing it. But it is true that life does change and it is also true that no matter how much other people tell you, you never really truly get it until it happens to you. Nothing in Buchman’s except compels me to buy and read her book. Maybe if I see it at my local library I’ll check it out.

Learning disabilities and ADD are relatively mild along the disability spectrum, and are relatively common. I’m sure every parent has a compelling story to tell when it comes to raising their children, and those raising children with exceptionalities especially so. From where I’m sitting, Buchman came into the world of disabilities relatively late. The day Thomas was born, I spent it in the NICU with him, and even he was luckier than the preemies who were living there. Eight months later, we were in the hospital again as he had suffered multiple seizures. By the time Buchman discovered something was wrong when her daughter was around 3, we were already well into the world of disabilities. By the time Thomas was 3, we were well initiated into the brave new world of Autism. But of course, I’m not a famous clothing designer with my own label. But anything that gives more airplay to those with exceptionalities is a good thing. Maybe the more people know and understand about it, the better they will act around them. We can all stand to learn a bit more compassion.

Just to highlight a bit more, my son Thomas has a small cavity. It’s not hurting him, but Jane still wants to get it worked on. Leave it to her, as the daughter of a dentist, to find it. In any case, if Thomas needs to have it worked on, he will probably require general anesthesia and have it done in a hospital. There’s just no way to work inside the mouth of kids with such severe sensory issues with any degree of safety. Just the sound of the drill would be enough to turn him into a wild person. It takes two people to hiold him down just to give him a haircut, and the boy weighs about 65 pounds!

It is allergy season here in Georgia, and metro Atlanta is Allergy Central. A pollen count of 100 is considered high, and we often have readings in the thousands! It is around 200 last I heard and rising. Most individuals with allergies to pollen manifest it with eye, nose and throat irritation, they can get sinus headaches and may have trouble sleeping. Presently, my symptoms (if I have any) are very mild. There’s irritation, but I do just fine without medication. Jane, on the other hand, is miserable despite being constantly medicated. Both of my sons also have allergies, and are also on antibiotics for strep throat.

My students have various ways of manifesting their allergies. A few might have watery eyes and a runny nose. But some also manifest their allergies with an escalation in various behaviors. For instance, Spaz doesn’t eat and drools more than usual. He also will act out more aggressively with a lot more hitting than usual. Taz gets a runny nose, but gets more hyperactive and defiant. Charlie just acts totally spaced out and will probably have several breakthrough seizures before the season is finished.

But we are still relatively drama free for the moment. I can handle sickness, drooling and even just a little aggression; at least from the kids. It’s mostly the adults that tangle me up!



2 Responses to “A Special Education and Allergy Season”

  1. Lissa Warren March 18, 2006 at 2:41 pm #

    Hi Dick. As the publicist for Dana Buchman’s book (A Special Education), thanks for taking the time to read an excerpt from it and blog about it. I fear the excerpt may have given you the impression that the book is more about her life as a fashion designer or life as a parent in general when, in reality, the rest of the book is very much focused on learning disabilities–getting an accurate diagnosis for her daughter Charlotte, finding a school where she could thrive, the way LD can influence family dynamics, etc. I’d love to send you a free copy so that you can evaluate it more thoroughly. If you’re interested, just email your mailing address to me at lissa.warren@perseusbooks.com. I’d also like to send you Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s new book, Engaging Autism.

  2. ray nwam December 23, 2007 at 12:26 am #

    Excellent article and site .your piece is a great resource to the online audience. Please when you have time check out my site with many articles like seasonal allergies http://allergieshelp.blogspot.com

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