Far From the Tree is a Must Read (Make it a Gift?)

If I had my way, I would require every parent, expert, advocate and friend – that is to say, every living human – to read Andrew Solomon’s book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, published (Scribner) in the fall of 2012. At this holiday season, I write to suggest this as a loving gift to anyone on your list (including yourself!).  Continue reading

A Great New Parent-to-Parent Advocacy Resource

An elegantly written and wisely pragmatic new book – Parents Have the Power to Make Special Education Work (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2014) – has been published this month to help parents navigate the special education system on behalf of their children.  The book was written by parents, Judith Canty Graves and Carson Graves, who learned the ropes both by advocating successfully for their own child from preschool through high school, and also by engaging extensively with many other parents and professionals along the way to learn the wider and deeper elements of the process.  Their book carries the same gently persistent spirit, judicious sense of proportion, and sharp intelligence that marked their advocacy for their child, and the lessons they learned should help all parents of children with learning challenges – both those who are new to the process and those who feel frustrated and powerless after suffering multiple bureaucratic defeats along the way – avoid many common mistakes.  Continue reading

Theater Review: “Distracted”

While I don’t pretend to be qualified as a theater critic, why should I let that hold me back – at least when I run across a production that is so beautifully and engagingly relevant?  Over the weekend, my wife and I went to see “Distracted,” a production of the Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge.  I left thinking I’ve got to spread the word on this production to those in our community with an interest in special education.  The play – written by Lisa Loomer and directed by Wesley Savick – is a wonderfully funny/sad and very, very savvy treatment of a family wrestling with all the issues that arise around a child with ADHD, within a culture that is itself afflicted in so many ways with the confusion and distraction of multiple simultaneous stimuli.  The story could easily have veered into slapstick or worse, but the dialogue and action were spot on, and in the hands of an extremely skilled company of actors the tone held perfectly and poignantly to the line between comedy and tragedy.  The author obviously took the trouble to get her facts straight on the many factors that impact a family around a child with ADHD – medical, educational, genetic, therapeutic and social – and the resulting experience is educational, thought-provoking and moving.  As the Artistic Director of the Underground Railway Theater, Debra Wise (a superb actor in her own right), noted: “Though Distracted includes information, it does not set out to inform, but rather to invite and provoke.  We laugh at its characters and see ourselves, trying to fix problems with ingenious tools of our own invention – medicine, technology.  How do we sort hope from hubris?”

The play is scheduled through June 2.  Hope you can make it!

Robert Crabtree is a partner in the Special Education & Disability Rights practice group at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts.