Special Ed for Kids

coverLearning My Way
I’m a Winner
Swenson and Kunz

This is part of a series on helping children cope with social situations, friendship, and other minefields of life. This book walks children through the diagnosis and treatment of learning disabilities. In this kid’s case, ADHD.

I get the intention of these books, but I am not a fan. They usually have no story or read like a textbook. In this case, we also get the bonus of few illustrations. (The cover really bugs me. The kid’s arms seem wrong.) I also have to wonder how you get a kid with attention problems to sit still long enough to read this boring story.



back cover

doctor visit

learning disability

kids teasing


  1. It’s eerily similar to my experience in elementary and middle school. The stomach aches, the disconnect between intelligence and grades, and the harassment by other students. Just change the names and it’s my auto biography.

  2. My son has Autism, and he also faced many challenges. These illustrations are a little weird, but I can appreciate the good intentions.

  3. The cover is offputting: the realistically textured hair atop a simplistic line drawing face is kind of odd, and I think the illustrator had a weird focus on the pinky fingers.

    The story might get some of the facts of the ADD experience right, but I still don’t think it would be a very appealing story or format for kids.

  4. I suspect that educators who work with special needs have professional stipulations about using more up to date books and materials, so this might be unusable, 30 years on.

  5. Having had these sorts of issues when i was a kid, I don’t have a problem with most of what I’m reading here except for the SE teacher assigning a random kid to be this kid’s “buddy”. Sometimes the two kids in this situation don’t get along at all and that can cause even more trouble.

    1. All I will say is that if this book doesn’t teach any coping mechanisms, then it is utterly worthless for kids with ADHD except as “oh hey, I’m not the only one who struggles with this.”

      Story time! I was diagnosed with ADHD/I (or just ADD back then) when I was 5. I was put on Ritalin, and my parents took me to a psychologist for therapy. But once I could make eye contact most of the time, they assumed that the psychological side was “cured” and all I’d need were the pills to be more-or-less normal. THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. I remember the frustration all the way up to high school because I would forget to write assignments down. I was never sure how to remember to write them down, and my parents didn’t seem to understand that that was the problem. I wasn’t good at communicating that this was the issue, either.

      It probably also would have helped if ADD/ADHD were already classified as a learning disorder in the early 90’s. My mother, especially, understood what it meant to help a kid with a learning disability, but ADHD was a new diagnosis and she hadn’t been to any teacher workshops about it yet, and the psychologist basically framed it as a behavioral disorder.

  6. A macramé plant, hanging low, over the examination table? I have visions of a patient,suffering from migraines, getting up after the check-up, and whacking himself repeatedly on the head with with the swinging plant.

  7. Oog, that cover illustration! Long skinny right arm has a double elbow and a cardboard-flat hand, and short bulgy left arm is just not the right shape for a human arm.
    Maybe they intend to use the same kid again for “Understanding Dan and His Weird Arm Problems”.

    1. Plus, putting a computer on your cover automatically dates your book. Commodore 64’s haven’t been used in ages.

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