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Especially for Kids


Please note: Being listed here is not per se an endorsement of any particular book or site. I have included descriptions for those that I personally recommend.

Personal stories

The Positive Side of SED Classes by Michael (age 13).  During a discussion on GT-Special, a teenager expressed concerns about possibly getting an ED (Emotional Disorder) placement. In response, another listmember posted the following note from her son, who attends an SED school (shared with permission).

What's in a Name?  DBD Marketing used to be called DysGraphic by Design.  "There is an interesting story behind the name DysGraphic by Design, LLC. The story begins with a young boy diagnosed with dyslexia, named Danny..."

Advocacy Articles

"Self-advocacy is the ability to understand and effectively communicate one's needs to other individuals. Learning to become an effective self-advocate is all about educating the people around you. There are three steps to becoming an effective self-advocate . . ."
Self-Advocacy: Know Yourself, Know What You Need, Know How to Get It by Nancy Johnson

Ten Tips for Talking to Teachers (reprinted here by permission), from the book, When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs, by Jim Delisle & Judy Galbraith.

LD Online has a Students Guide to the IEP available to read at

LD Online has A Student's Guide to the IEP by Marcy McGahee-Kovac. While it was published before the 2004 version of the law, it provides valuable information that is still relevant.

Wrightslaw has a flyer with resources for making the transition to college, with information on rights and responsibilities under Section 504, planning and preparation, and keys to success


LD Online has a section on college & college prep and one on transitioningfrom school to work or college.

For SAT exams, having an IEP or 504 does not necessarily guarantee that a student is eligible for testing accommodations. (If your're not already getting such accommodations in high school, you won't be able to get them for the SAT). Here's the address for that information from the College Boards:

For similar information for the ACT exams, go to 

The article "The ADA, Section 504 & Postsecondary Education" at the PACER Center (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) site has useful information on the legal protections available to college students with special needs. Their site has a section on Postsecondary Education that includes info on preparing, selecting the right program, campus life, understanding academic accommodations, financial aid, and knowing your rights and responsibilities.

Wrightslaw has a flyer with resources for making the transition to college, with information on rights and responsibilities under Section 504, planning and preparation, and keys to success

Most colleges have information on their websites concerning disability services.  It's worth checking out for any college where you are considering applying.

For those who did not finish high school, LD Online has an article on getting accommodations on the GED exam to get a high school equivalency at


I made a page of my son's and my favorite books for kids/young adults - I hope you have as much fun browsing it as I had creating it!


Uncovering the Mysteries of Your Learning Disability by Scott Crouse.

Books about special needs

Asperger's Huh? A Child's Perspective by Rosina Schnurr & John Strachan. Anisor Publishing.

Asperger's: What Does It Mean to Me? by Catherine Faherty. Future Horizons.  I highly recommend this workbook for elementary school kids.  It's meant to be done with parents and teachers, and has very useful suggestions and insights for the adults in a child's life.  It's also unusually sensitive to a wide variety of family types and school settings (including homeschooling).

Eli, the Boy Who Hated to Write:  Understanding Dysgraphia by Regina Richards and Eli Richards.  RET Center Press.  This book, written by a mother and son, is aimed at elementary and middle school students and presents a student's experience of dysgraphia.

Fighting Invisible Tigers : A Stress Management Guide for Teens by Earl Hipp. Free Spirit Publishing.

Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adloexcence by Luke Jackson, forward by Tony Attwood. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Written by a 13 year old boy with Asperger Syndrome, this book is written for kids with AS, their parents, teachers, and friends.

How Rude!: The Teenagers' Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out by Alex Packer. Free Spirit Press. Useful for explaining social conventions and behavior to kids with NLD, Asperger Syndrome, etc.

Jarvis Clutch: Social Spy by Mel Levine. Educators Pub Service. Advice on understanding the middle school social world.

Keeping a Head in School : A Student's Book About Learning Abilities and Learning Disorders (for children ages 11 and up)
All Kinds of Minds : A Young Student's Book About Learning Abilities and Learning Disorders (for children under 11 years old)
both by Mel Levine. Educators Pub Service. Many people appreciate Dr. Levine's approach to children with learning differences, and his way of explaining them to kids.

The video, "How Difficult Can This Be?:  The F.A.T. City Workshop" by Rick Lavoie.  The description from the website says it all:  "For kids with learning disabilities, the classroom can be an intimidating place. In this workshop, Richard Lavoie shows why. He leads a group of parents, educators, psychologists, and children through a series of exercises that cause Frustration, Anxiety, and Tension...feelings all too familiar to children with learning disabilities. By dramatizing the classroom experience so vividly, Lavoie lets us see the world through the eyes of a child. At the end of the workshop, participants discuss strategies for working more effectively with learning disabled children."
Click here to see a video clip.

Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution, by Jonathan Mooney & David Cole. Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks. This wonderful book is by two recent graduates of Brown University, both of whom struggled through school (one dropping out for years) – both clearly gifted/special needs. They are also the founders of a program linking special needs college students with grade school students, as mentors. Aimed at students, it is a must-read for parents and teachers as well.

Many Ways to Learn: Young People's Guide to Learning Disabilities by Judith Stern & Uzi Ben-Ami. Magination.

My Thirteenth Winter : A Memoir by Samantha Abeel is an amazing account by a gifted young woman with dyslexia and severe dyscalculia. A beautifully written look from the inside, by a talented writer, this is a must-read for parents, teachers, and kids with LDs. Ms. Abeel also wrote and published a poetry book, Reach for the Moon, when she was 13 years old.

Putting on the Brakes : Young People's Guide to Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by Patricia O. Quinn & Judith M. Stern. Magination.

Special Siblings: Growing Up With Someone With a Disability by Mary McHugh. Paul H. Brookes Pub Co. A sensitive, thoughtful book, written by someone who grew up as a "special sibling".

The Survival Guide for Kids With Ld: Learning Differences by Gary L. Fisher & Rhoda Woods Cumming.
The School Survival Guide for Kids With LD by Rhoda Woods Cumming, Gary L. Fisher, Pamela Espeland. Free Spirit Press. 
Click here to read the section "The Law and Your Rights".

Views from Our Shoes : Growing Up With a Brother or Sister With Special Needs edited by Donald Meyer. Woodbine House. It can be difficult having a special needs sibling. This book can lesson the isolation, as well as helping parents understand what it's like for their children.

When Nothing Matters Anymore : A Survival Guide for Depressed Teens by Beverly Cobain. Free Spirit Publishing.

Books with special needs characters

Blue Bottle Mystery : An Asperger's Adventure, Of Mice and Aliens: An Asperger Adventure, and Lisa and the Lacemaker: An Asperger Adventure, all by Kathy Hoopmann. Jessica Kingsley Pub. A series of stories featuring children with Asperger Syndrome.

Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser. Laureleaf. Drawing on her personal experience with OCD, Hesser has written a compelling story about a girl whose obsessions and compulsions due to undiagnosed OCD are controlling her life and upsetting her family, and how she finally gets diagnosed and helped.

Little by Little : A Writer's Education by Jean Little, Puffin, is the memoir of the visually impaired author's childhood.  Little has written many other wonderful books that have characters with special needs.  Although many of her other books are out of print, they are worth a trip to the library.

The Same Difference by Deborah Lynn Jacobs, Royal Fireworks Press, is about a high school girl whose twin sister is autistic.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, is the autobiographical story of the author's childhood as a girl who is artistically gifted but has not been able to learn to read. Her 5th grade teacher recognizes that she is dyslexic and gets her the help that she needs.

The Wrong Side of the Pattern by Kristin Embry Litchman, Royal Fireworks Press, is about a gifted/dyslexic high school girl.

College (and High School)/Career

Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders: More Than 750 College Programs in the U.S. and Canada for Special-Needs Students. by Peterson's Guides (Editor), Stephen S. Strichart (Editor), Charles T., II Mangrum (Editor). Peterson’s Guides.

Learning a Living : A Guide to Planning Your Career and Finding a Job for People With Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Dyslexia by Dale S. Brown. Woodbine House. To read excerpts from this book, go to http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/adult/job_in_college.html.

The Teenagers' Guide to School Outside the Box by Rebecca Greene. Less radical than the Teenage Liberation Handbook, and geared towards students still in high school, this book discusses volunteering, internships, apprenticeships, study abroad, etc. as ways to broaden the school experience.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn.  Radical unschooling for teens.

Unlocking Potential : College and Other Choices for People With LD and AD/HD by Juliana M. Taymans (Editor), Lynda L. West (Editor), Madeline Sullivan (Contributor). Woodbine House.

Plus, two books not specifically aimed at kids with special needs which provide a useful perspective and alternative point of view:

Cool Colleges: For the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming, and Just Plain Different by by Donald Asher
Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools You Should Know About Even If You're Not a Straight-A Student by Loren Pope.


ADDitude magazine provides information for parents, children and adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. Topics include ADHD ADD Coaching, special education and family support.

Last updated December 2019

"Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction."
       ~ Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller's Teacher)

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