Jane Healy has spent years researching children's brains, their learning styles and their thinking. She distills down volumes of scientific research and makes it practical and applicable to parents who are struggling to decipher the reasons their child is not learning like he should, and what they can do about it.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part goes through various types of learning differences, defining them and differentiating them. She discusses the problem of the over-diagnosis of learning disabilities and syndromes that parents deal with today and look at each type of disability or syndrome, listing the characteristics and giving examples. She covers everything from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) to PDD (Pervasive Development Disorder) to dyslexia to the autism spectrum. For each disorder, she addresses the questions "What is it," "Where does it come from," and "What do we do?"
The second section deals with prevention. Healy discusses the way the brain works and develops and the various things that can cause damage and disruption to the brain's development, both in utero and during early childhood. She talks about ways to improve the brain's function and decrease harmful inputs to the brain. She also addresses medications used for various disorders and looks objectively at both the positive and negative issues surrounding those drugs. She also covers the issues of genetics and biology and the impact those have to a child's learning abilities and gives serious consideration to how we define intelligence, noting that all children have talents in a variety of areas, but society and school systems force children to look alike in intelligence judgments.
The third section is the "What can we do?" section. Healy tackles the issues of cleaning up our children's environments (chemical toxins, media, food choices, stressors, sleep habits, activity schedules and personal habits) and reevaluating what we need to remove and what we need to add and the effects these factors have on the brain's function and learning ability.
Following these extremely practical sections, there is a helpful appendix that includes terminology, thoughts on when to worry, a primer on finding professional help for your child and a list of other references that would be helpful.
At just over 400 pages, this summary barely scratches the surface of the wealth of information in this excellent book. Many parents might find the book a bit on the overwhelming side, but if you are desperate for help and don't know where to find it (and you know when you are in that place!), you will find Jane Healy to be your new best friend. While there is a lot of academic research in the book, it is written in an easy-to-read, conversational manner, making you feel like someone is walking alongside you on this journey. And that is what Jane Healy does in this book. I highly recommend it for any parent who is just starting on the mysterious and often frightening journey of discovering if there is something actually wrong with your child, or whether he is just a little quirky in some areas.