Book Report – One Child by Torey Hayden.
In One Child, author and educator Torey Hayden retells the story of being a special educator in 1980. Placed in a small room with a diverse group of students, Torey Hayden is not your average educator. Her students call her by first name, she gets emotionally involved, and she even takes the desks out of her small classroom. Yet despite the challenges, she and her students come together successfully and begin learning. The class is thrown for a loop when six-year-old Sheila joins the class in January. Feared by some for her erratic and dangerous behavior, her placement with Torey is meant to be a temporary solution while she awaits admission into the State Hospital.
With a lot of patience and controversial tactics, Torey “tames” Sheila, and delightfully discovers that not only is she a smart girl, her IQ is off the charts. The school year concludes with the classroom being broken up due to lack of funding, but with the students fully prepared to enter less restrictive environments in the next school year.
This book greatly affected the way I understand families and/or children with disabilities. The greatest thing I learned is that intelligence or giftedness can be a challenging exceptionality. Through additional research, I found that giftedness can often be misdiagnosed as ADHD or LD. In some cases, children who are gifted can also suffer from specific learning disabilities, and need accommodations on both sides. Sheila was certainly an exceptional child because she had a very high reading and math ability despite being very young and disadvantaged. She lived with her father who was a migrant worker, who despite loving her, could not help her academically. Emotional circumstances have hindered Sheila’s development. Her mother left her a few years earlier, and the belief that she was unworthy prompted her to act out in school settings. She was so afraid of failure that she spent weeks ripping up her math...
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