Although Charlotte is clearly a ‘success story’, Dana is not done. She still serves on an advisory council to diagnose and guide underprivileged children. And proceeds from the book benefit the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Dana spent a year writing the book (while logging long hours at her company), but she is adamant that parents do not need to go through the pressure, shame, confusion and anxiety that she experienced.
Charlotte’s LD included coordination issues; she was not able to keep up with her athletic father and younger sister. Her mom actually found this both a blessing and a curse — Dana says she never liked to ski anyway, and now had an excuse to hang out in the lodge with her daughter. But she admits that she relishes long bike rides and that this became a problem: family biking trips from their Long Island beach house usually ended in disaster. Finally, when Charlotte is in high school, she becomes a runner, and goes jogging with Tom.
Dana reports that while the book puts Annie again “in the role of watching” her sister get the attention, mother and younger daughter will be working together soon, when Annie completes an independent study at her mother’s company. To diffuse sibling rivalry, both girls enjoy ‘alone’ time with their parents — Dana often takes one girl on a business trip, for store openings or events.
One of the most powerful parts of the books is the last chapter, written by Charlotte (pictured on the front cover, with her mother). Charlotte is very pragmatic about her differences and rightfully proud of her accomplishments.
A Special Education: One Family’s Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities is published this month by Perseus Books.