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Book Reviews
Reviewed by Beth Dworetzky
Woodbine House has donated a copy of these books to the Federation, which you can borrow by calling 617-236-7210. Learn more about the Special Needs Collection at www.woodbinehouse.com.

Thicker than Water: Essays by Adult Siblings of People with Disabilities

Edited by Don Meyer (First Edition. Woodbine House, 2009, 234 pp.)

book coverSibshops and listservs are great ways for brothers and sisters to connect and share their experiences about growing up with a sibling with special needs. However, if you want to explore another avenue of support, or need an additional support medium, then Thicker than Water may be ‘just what the doctor prescribed.’ Don Meyer, director of the Sibling Support Project, has edited this collection of essays by 39 adult siblings of people with disabilities, illness and other special needs.

Adult siblings share heartwarming, revealing glimpses into their lives that will make you laugh and cry. If you have a brother or sister with special needs, and do not feel supported, you will realize you are not alone in the multitude of often-conflicting emotions brothers and sisters experience, even as adults, when they have a sibling with special needs. And, if you do not have a brother or sister of with special needs, this book will give you new insight into the issues your friends face, and the emotions they experience, while trying to find a balance between responsibilities to their sibling and their own families.

Helping Children with Down Syndrome Communicate Better: Speech and language skills for ages 6 – 14

By Libby Kumin, PhD., CCC-SLP (Woodbine House, 2008, 393 pp)

book coverThere is a difference between communication, speech and language. Everyone develops these skills at different rates, and even individuals without disabilities are not always good at all three skills. The challenge for teaching communication skills to children with Down syndrome is figuring out the best way for each child to communicate, and then helping him or her develop the other needed skills. Some children will use speech; some will use sign language, picture systems or other communication devices.

When problems arise for our children, it helps to learn about the issue before meeting with a specialist or therapist. When we know the types of evaluations to expect, and treatment options, we can make a more informed decision about how to choose a therapist, and work towards a solution. This book helps families understand the options for helping their child with Down syndrome develop communication, speech and language, and includes great ideas for incorporating language development into your family routine. There is also information about assistive technology, sample treatment plans, IEP goals, and more.

Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and other Hands-On Learners. Book 2: Advanced Survival Skills

By DeAnna Horstmeier, Ph.D (Woodbine House, 2008, 481 pp)

boy in dentist chairThe author, parent of a young adult son with Down syndrome, wanted to make sure he had the skills to live independently. As math is an essential skill, she developed hands-on ways to teach her son math, where he could touch and manipulate materials, not just look at equations. She created games so her son, and all students, could have fun, practice skills, and transfer the concepts to long-term memory. She also broke down each skill into manageable steps so students could finish each activity and not be frustrated.

This book, written for parents, brothers, sisters, teachers, friends, and anyone interested in helping a hands-on learner learn math, is not just for children with Down syndrome. Children with autism spectrum disorders or learning disabilities will also benefit. Each lesson uses common household materials. There are games and activities to support each lesson. The appendices include information about calculators, other teaching materials, and recipes that help the students learn fractions. The resources include helpful math Web sites and organizations.