The Journey Of Special Education, by Nicole Bovell
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Books Go Social. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book got the title right, at least, in that it is a journey through the difficult and complex area of special education. I must admit that although I am not part of the book’s target demographic, at least not at this stage of life, I found much about the book to be interesting, although not necessarily in the way intended by the author. The author is a special education teacher who happens to write a blog devoted to special education that seeks to educate parents of special needs children and young adults, and that shows in this book. As someone who has a high degree of skepticism regarding the politics and bureaucracy of education systems , this book was one that I viewed with a certain degree of ambivalence. On the one hand, I thought there was much to praise in the book’s practical appeal and in the desire of the author to educate parents. On the other hand the book had way too much jargon and seemed to revel in the incomprehensibility of so much of contemporary education, to the point where the book has a very long glossary, and in the fact that so much of education is so bureaucratic and so political these days.
The contents of this book are largely taken from the author’s blog, and are a bit repetitive because the editing appears to have been pretty minimal. That said, the contents here are at least consistently interesting and certainly relevant to the book’s target audience. The author begins by talking about the world of advocacy and whether parents (who should be the advocates for their children) need advocates of their own or even attorneys. After that the author encourages parents of special needs children to know their IEP’s (Individual Education Plans for those not in the know) and the various aspects of education for special needs children. The third section of the book contains a great deal of discussion about special needs children and their behavior. After that the author talks a lot about what special needs children need in the classroom, including SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant/realistic, and timely) educational goals and even a discussion about homeschooling. The author then discusses the estate and educational and living goals for special needs children as they transition into adulthood, which show a wide variety of potential futures based on the interests and capabilities of such young people. The last section of the book talks about real life and about the different struggles that lead a child to be categorized as special needs as well as plans for summer camp and setting up sensory boxes and sensory books, for example, before the book’s long glossary closes the volume.
If you are a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with some sort of difficulty that would lead to the development of an IEP, this book is definitely a useful and worthwhile guide, without a doubt. There is a great deal here to appreciate as well for other audiences, as the author is clearly trying to bridge the gap between special needs educators and parents, a relationship that seems especially fraught with mistrust. Although the author did a good job, I believe, in discussing the educational system as it is, I believe that the author unintentionally exposed just how much was wrong with our current educational system, including the immense expenses that taxpayers have to bear because of laws designed to help this particular group of students. If money for gifted children fell off because schools had to spend more money on special needs children, that would be a real crime, and evidence that a great deal of the fat needs to be cut from the educational system, at least based on what is revealed in this particular book.
 See, for example: