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Dana Buchman and Charlotte Farber

A Special Education

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Catalog No. 23189

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Dana Buchman knew almost nothing about "learning differences" when her oldest daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with neurological, spatial, and motor skill disabilities as a toddler. Furthermore, from the Ivy League to the launch of her own fashion label, Buchman had encountered few obstacles that couldn't be overcome through hard work and determination. Unfortunately, Buchman's well-developed ability to "fix" things would not serve her in her efforts to deal with Charlotte's disabilities; she would have to develop a new skill set to be able to see Charlotte as a person with unique abilities.

A riveting and intensely personal memoir, A Special Education reveals the long and arduous process of Charlotte's development as well as Buchman's own path to self-discovery. Confessing frequent anxiety, guilt, frustration, and anger, Buchman describes the difficult search to find the right school and care for Charlotte, the strain the process put on her marriage and family dynamics. In addition, Buchman tells of her own struggles with excessive drinking and workaholism--and of finally letting go of her drive to be "perfect." This is an inspiring account of one mother's journey to acceptance and understanding as well as a family's triumph over daunting circumstances.

"The famous clothing designer recounts with tremendous candor her difficult and transformative acceptance of her daughter's lifetime of learning difficulties. At 35, newly married, pregnant and offered the chance to start her own knitwear label, Buchman was a hard-driven, perfectionist New Yorker determined to "have it all." But Charlotte, her first born, soon exhibited slow growth in movement and language, and at age four underwent a battery of tests that revealed she suffered from dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and a host of other developmental difficulties. Buchman and her husband were faced with coming to terms with having a "disabled child"--requiring not only special schools and a herculean patience but the courage to overcome the shame and guilt associated with acknowledging publicly that their life wasn't perfect. Moreover, Buchman recognized she tended to favor her needier child over her second "normal" child, although the siblings eventually excelled in areas that didn't compete with each other. With therapy and specialists to prepare her for the larger world, Charlotte, now in college, is well on her way to a productive life. Buchman's forthright memoir (and list of resources) will go far in lightening the pall surrounding children with special needs."--Publishers Weekly

196 pages. 2006


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