When Anne Ford, great-granddaughter of Henry Ford, learned that her four-year-old daughter Allegra’s “differences” were the result of severe learning disabilities, she faced a challenge that neither money nor position could ease. Desperate for answers, Anne sought out doctors, teachers, counselors, and others who could help her build a support network for herself and her daughter, while fighting the many common misconceptions and myths about learning disabilities.
Now, in this fiercely honest and compelling memoir, Anne tells her story, writing movingly of her feelings as the mother of a learning disabled child. “I grew to accept that life is filled with uncertainty and that answers to the most simple, yet profound, questions such as ‘What is wrong with my daughter?’ can be elusive. I learned to be self-reliant in ways I never had before. I learned that every spark of optimism and hope was something to be nurtured and treasured because sometimes they were the only comfort available. And I learned that worry had entered my life.”
In time, Anne Ford saw her daughter grow into a vibrant, loving, and independent adult with a passion for ice skating and a commitment to help other disabled children. Allegra Ford, now 32, lives independently and supported this book’s publication so “it could help other kids.” Anne’s experience led her to become a tireless activist on behalf of children and families faced with LD, including her service as Chairman of the Board of the National Center for Learning Disabilities from 1989 to 2001, and the writing of this book with John-Richard Thompson, an award-winning playwright and novelist.
In addition to Anne’s personal story, Laughing Allegra includes four invaluable special sections:
Answers to the most commonly asked questions about LD A resource guide on where to find help A discussion from a mother’s perspective on the challenges of homework, money, relationships, the work- place, and planning as the LD child and parents age A section on “Siblings and Secrets,” new in this paperback edition, inspired by Anne’s conversations with readers during her hardcover book tour.
This poignant, intimate portrait of the author's daughter and her constant battle with serious learning disabilities opens an often hidden world and illuminates the many ways learning disabilities shape the lives of entire families. While having the Ford family name has provided Allegra with some advantages (the author is Henry Ford's great-granddaughter), living with a learning disability can be extremely difficult for anyone so diagnosed, and often a proper diagnosis is itself very difficult to come by. As a deeply involved and caring mother and longtime chair of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Ford has seen enormous changes in public understanding and has knowledge about these problems, but there is still much to learn, she says, and every case is unique. She incorporates invaluable information for parents just beginning this lifelong struggle, including "questions parents ask" and her own perspective on some of the hardest issues that will almost certainly arise, in the early years and beyond, about persevering in the search for appropriate schooling, encouraging interpersonal relationships, helping the child establish an independent life when finances are difficult to grasp and employment is hard to maintain, and preparing the child for life when the parents are gone. But above all, this is a personal journey, depicting Allegra's triumphs (she is now 30) and the author's strength throughout years of pain and difficulty. will make this popular among parents of the 2.9 million American students currently receiving special education for learning disabilities.