Once Upon An Accommodation

once accomodationDo you have an older school aged child who needs accommodations in the school setting?

I received this book, Once Upon an Accommodation: A Book About Learning Disabilities by Nina G a couple of months ago. I passed this book along to my close friend, Lisa Berey who is a social worker who works with older children who might benefit from a book such as this one. Lisa Berey is a seasoned social worker who provides psychotherapy to children with emotional disturbances, learning disabilities and attention issues and their families in a an outpatient psychiatry clinic in New York City. I am very happy to present her perspective on the book and how she used it for one of her particular clients. I think many clinicians and parents may benefit from a book such as this one. Thank you Lisa!

I received the book “Once Upon an Accommodation: A Book About Learning Disabilities” by Nina  from my good friend Becca Eisenberg as suggested read for the children that I work with.  I work in an outpatient psychiatry clinic in Manhattan and provide psychotherapy to children and families.  When a 10-year-old client (Joshua) returned to my care after a 9 month absence from treatment I knew he would be the perfect candidate to try out this book.  Joshua had been diagnosed with ADHD, Combined Presentation two years earlier upon first entering our clinic.  However, he never took medication and never received special education services.  Finally, after several years of academic failures and low scores on comprehensive State examinations Joshua was tested by the committee on special education.  Testing suggested that while Joshua did not have any learning disabilities, he had some markers for ADHD and would benefit from extra assistance in reading and math.  He also received testing accommodations such as prompts, extra time on tests, and a separate location.
Joshua was very anxious about the State exams as he had heard they would determine whether or not he would be left back in the 5th grade.  I suggested that we read this book together to help him understand why this year’s experience would be different than the previous years’.  Prior to reading this book Joshua did not know what an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or accommodations were, and was unaware that he was receiving extra assistance.  This book explained to Joshua the opportunities he would now have, why he was given them, and normalized the experience so that he did not feel that he was different than other children in his classroom.  The worksheets at the end of the book nicely incorporated self-esteem building components that allowed Joshua to consider all the skills and activities that he was good at, allowing him to feel that his struggles with academics did not outweigh his abilities.  I have 30 minute sessions and so it took a few sessions to complete reading the book and the worksheets (I wanted Joshua to participate in reading some of it).  However, at the end of the sessions Joshua indicated that he felt the book was very helpful.  It reminded him that specific accommodations and supports (including school staff) were available to help him, reminded him of the other children who are going through similar struggles, and also of his strengths and abilities.
As a clinician I felt the book was an easy read.  The humor incorporated into the story created a nice intervention to alleviate what is typically a stressful topic for children.  The drawings were simple.  However, I felt that the simplicity made it easier to prevent distraction from the objective of the book, as well as providing a sense of genuineness and relatability (as most kids can’t draw elaborate pictures that are often seen as illustrations in children’s books).  The one thing I would have liked to see more of was explanations surrounding IEPs.  However, it served as a nice jumping off point for a conversation reviewing Joshua’s IEP and the services provided within.  I would recommend this book for children ages 8-11 or even possibly very mature younger children.

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Once Upon An Accommodation: A Book About Learning Disabilities

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