From the first moment I saw a talking terminal in 1981, I saw educational benefits for children with disabilities. I believed then that children with disabilities had to be introduced to assistive technology as early as two-years old. I also believed that any educational program developed for the child with a disability, to produce positive results,had to be created by the parents, teachers, counselors, and when old enough, the students themselves. Assistive Technology for Young Children (Creating Inclusive Learning Environments) written by Kathleen Curry Sadao, Ed.D, and Nancy B. Robinson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP shows me I was correct. Dr. Sado has been in the field of early childhood special education (ECSE) and more than 25 years. Dr. Robinson is a speech language pathologist and special educator with a focus on early childhood education. Their experiences and knowledge of dealing with early childhood special education clearly shine in this book. It is a book for every parent of a student with a disability, every teacher of a student with a disability, and every administrator of programs educating students with disabilities. The messages are it takes a community of knowledgeable and committed people to educate successfully a student with a disability, and assistive technology has a major role in this effort. As I read the book, this message kept resounding again and again: Professionals are responsible for helping children and families select and require AT devices and equipment as well as instructing them in their use. Another message is: It is reasonable to assume that if teachers and other professionals of early intervention have inadequate skills and knowledge about these technologies, then they are failing to consider and use AT with young children. Sado and Robinson accomplish their task of showing how federal laws, policies and research into practical, day-to-day AT strategies to promote learning and development into an inclusive environment.This focus is told in the scenarios, case studies, activities and AT resources that give the data real-world applications. Different chapters tell of individual areas of young children including communication, play, computer access and literacy. The result is the development of a policy for creating and putting into practice AT toolkits with young children in their daily activities. The authors define AT toolkits “as a collection of equipment and supplies that enable early childhood providers to readily adapt activities for children with complex needs in daily activities and learning environments with their peers.” The authors speak of four categories of AT toolkits, and they are communication, play, emergent literacy and computer usage. They cover in-depth each of these areas in chapters 5-8. The authors go further and write, “Each of the four AT toolkits include key componentsto match to the individual needs of each child based on developmental needs specific AT tools , sources for each item and examples of AT applications within daily routines.” The authors, of this well-written book, know how to re-enforce their message throughout the book. Each chapter begins with a summary of the chapter’s contents and closes with a much briefer summary. In chapters 2-9 there are questions and tips at the end of each chapter. I found myself answering most of the questions and welcoming the tips. There are a lot of tables and figures to support the findings of each message in each chapter. However, the book does not read like a dissertation. The authors, to their credit, keep their message simple through good writing. When I started reading this book, I did not think I would learn much. To the contrary, I learned that data supports the fact that it takes a village and knowledge of assistive technology to educate a child with a disability. Another lesson is assistive technology usage is integrating children with disabilities into society and changing society’s view of the abilities of children with disabilities. I proudly place Assistive Technology for Young Children on my shelf in my library. I recommend it to every teacher, administrator, consultant working with assistive technology and every parent of a disabled child using AT. The book sells for $39.95 and can be purchased on-line by visiting www.brookespublishing.com and typing in the title in the search box. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heart of a Patriot (How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove) By Max Cleland with Ben Raines
Reviewed by John M. Williams
I love reading good autobiographies. True autobiographies tell us a great deal about the writer. They reveal the growth of the person. They reveal influences that shaped the individual’s character. They are historical because they reveal stages of the writer’s life, often from childhood through the time when the scribe finishes. In an absorbing autobiography, the reader discovers the rich and the not so rich elements of the writer’s life. An awe inspiring autobiography is difficult to put down. Vietnam veteran, war hero and triple amputee as well as the former Director of the Veterans Administration and former U.S. Senator (D-GA), Joseph Maxwell Cleland has written a compelling autobiography titled Heart of a Patriot/How I Found the Courage to Survive Viet Nam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove. In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Max Cleland since 1978 as a friend and confident. In his Foreword, An Open Letter to America’s Veterans, Cleland touches on the ever present demons he has faced since becoming a triple amputee (he lost both legs and his right arm to an exploding grenade), the courage it took to deal with the humiliating treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Hospital and picking up the pieces of his life after he lost his re-election bid to the U.S. Senate in 2002. Upon returning to Walter Reed for counseling he writes, “I wound up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, almost 40 years after I had been treated there the first time. This time around, I was in search of being put back together again in my mind, heart and soul.” The Foreword lays the foundation for the telling of the hurdles Cleland faced and the courage it takes to triumph.He acknowledges the hundreds of thousands of other male and female veterans who face their own hurdles butcan overcome them with the help of others. In Heartof a Patriot, we have the dynamic life story of Max Cleland from Lithonia, Georgia. Max was a small town boy with a gargantuan appetite to experience the bigger world. At age 10, he joined his school’s band. Two years later the band was voted the best band in Georgia. The discipline that he acquired in becoming a member of the best band in the state was deeply embedded in him for life. He writes, “He (bandleader) was so insistent on perfection that I found it rubbing of on me.” When he won a blue medal, for being a member of the best band, he says, “I’m going to be the best at whatever I do.” A star athlete in high school, he developed a sense of moral values and fair play and his early hero was The Lone Ranger. When Max graduated from high school, he entered Stetson University in Deland, FL. He points out, “I had no idea how big my world was about to become.” College also brought him closer to politics, and he became a U.S. Army ROTC cadet. College was a growth period for him, especially when he earned the opportunity to participate in the Students in the Washington Semester Program. Max was attracted to Washington, DC in the same way baseball players hunger to play for power teams. Washington, DC was the seat of political power and the place to be. I like to think of this part of his life as the genesis of many decades of outstanding public service. Max is proud of his military service, and he has a right to be. He served with distinction, valor and honor. He cared for his men, and his men cared for him. Then the unthinkable happened. He writes, “As the chopper lifted off, I saw the grenade. It was on the ground where I had landed. I thought it had fallen of my web gear. Slinging my M-16 behind my back with my left hand, I reached over to pick it up….Just as I was about to touch it, there was a white flash and a massive explosion. I was hurling through the air.” His life was forever changed. And so was America’s. In the book, Cleland details his struggles against impossible odds to walk with artificial legs when people said it could not be done. He speaks of the apathy shown by the caregivers in the VA system towards disabled veterans. He speaks of a VA system unprepared for the returning disabled veteran coping with both physical and mental challenges. His autobiography tells how Cleland went against the odds when he was the youngest Director in the history of the Veterans Administration and brought reform to it. He battled the odds and was elected Georgia State Senator, Georgia Secretary of State and finally U.S. Senator. He battled the odds and is combating depression, including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). He is also battling alcoholism. Having experienced the brutalities of combat, Max is a reluctant warrior. His vote to send combat troops into Iraq haunts him daily. Heart of a Patriot tells of the inner anguish he copes with over his vote and the wrong headedness of the Iraq war policy.Max points out that before the country commits our troops to harms way, it needs to be prepared to care for those that will experience the battle. In my opinion the lowest point of his life was his failure to win re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2002. It was a dirty campaign. In a smear campaign orchestrated by White House political advisor Karl Rove,fear, lies and nostalgia for the Confederacy combined to defeat him. His defeat constitutes a very low point in Georgia’s voting history. The low level of dirty politics practiced by the Republicans in 2002, 2004 and 2008 clearly disgusts him and he writes about it. Heart of a Patriot caused me to nearly cry as I read some chapters and applaud as I read others. It’s the candid tale of a great American hero,of a courageous hero, of a humanitarian and an inspirer. Heart of a Patriot reveals Max Cleland to be a man with a strong faith in God. Max writes, “….that some how through it all, God provides.” I recommend Heart of a Patriot…to anyone who has faced adversity and needs a hero and to people who will face future challenges and need to know that these challenges can be overcome if you have the courage to say, “I will not let you defeat me.” Heart of a Patriot is published by Simon & Schuster. It is 259 pages and sells for $26.
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