Laughing Allegra: The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter With Learning Disabilities

Laughing Allegra: The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter With Learning Disabilities


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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."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557046222
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/26/2004
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.92(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Anne Ford's previous books are the acclaimed memoir Laughing Allegra, about raising her severely learning-disabled daughter, and On Their Own: Creating an Independent Future for Your Adult Child with Learning Disabilities and ADHD. She served as Chairman of the Board of the National Center for Learning Disabilities from 1989 to 2001. The daughter of Henry Ford II, she lives in New York City and lectures widely on LD and ADHD issues.

John Richard-Thompson, an award-winning playwright and novelist, collaborates with Anne Ford on her books.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Guide to the Heartxiii
Part ILaughing Allegra
1Baby Girl Uzielli7
2Why Are You Wandering Off Again?19
3A Beautiful Squiggle30
4She Doesn't Belong Here40
6First Day of School59
7A Great Gentleman Comes into Our Lives68
8Sprinkle a Little Pixie Dust77
10Graduation Day92
11My Mother96
Photo section
An Epilogue: It Can Be Done133
Part IIQuestions Parents Ask
Your First Questions139
Your Legal Rights: Learning How to be a "Difficult" Parent154
Part IIIA Mother's Perspective
The Power of Words: Words Should Be Weighed, Not Counted163
Homework: The Battle Zone168
Mothers and Fathers: Understanding Each Other172
On Their Own: Challenges of Life176
From Here to There: The Challenges of Getting Around179
Finances: The Challenges of Money184
Employment: Challenges in the Workplace186
Getting Along: The Challenges of Relationships192
When I Am Gone: A Parent's Final Challenge198
Part IVResource Guide for Parents
About the Authors239

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Laughing Allegra: The Inspiring Story of a Mother's Struggle and Triumph Raising a Daughter with Learning Disabilities 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JustinMeek More than 1 year ago
This was assigned reading for a class, but I am so glad it was assigned. I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot.