All Kinds of Minds, by Dr. Mel Levine, is a great book for parents who want to introduce children to their learning disorder in a positive manner. The purpose of the book is to address, teach, and foster understanding of learning disorders through five characters who have a “different kind of mind.”
In his book, Dr. Mel Levine encourages parents to be honest with their child about their “different mind,” as well as their remediation, treatment, and therapy. His book provides helpful suggestions for creating positive environments at home and in school for children with learning disorders. He encourages active discussion and awareness of one’s obstacles, but also reminds readers to remember one’s strengths.
Here is a closer look at the five different kinds of minds presented by Dr. Levine.
Eddie has ADD/ADHD. His struggles with distractibility, focus, and high energy are illustrated in a sympathetic manner. Readers follow Eddie as he gets diagnosed by a pediatrician. He is prescribed medication along with the implementation of structures and strategies to help him learn better. This helps children better understand the reason for their doctor visits, medication, and new learning systems. Any child with ADD/ADHD has likely experienced similar troubles and misunderstandings like the ones Eddie encounters.
Sonya has been diagnosed with dyslexia. The book addresses the struggles of dyslexics with decoding words and retaining sound-letter (phoneme-grapheme) connections. Sonya’s difficulty with reading leads to her low self-esteem and lashing out against her brother, who enjoys reading. This paints a familiar picture for many dyslexic children, who may feel anxious about their inability to read and resentful of siblings or friends who are proficient at reading. However, Sonya’s family support and encourage her strengths in problem-solving. Her efforts and self-application help dyslexic children understand they are not the only ones working hard to learn to read.
Bill has memory problems which lead to his fear of judgment from peers and bullying behavior. He is aware of his disability and extremely embarrassed of it. To distract others from it, he is willing to be seen as a troublemaker. Many children prefer to be “the bad kid” over the “class dummy”. While this can be frustrating for parents and teachers, we must remember children take peer assessments and perceptions seriously. Bill’s parents discipline him and establish rules for him; they do not allow him to use his memory problems as an excuse for bad behavior after his diagnosis is made. However, they encourage his talents and reward him for positive changes to reinforce them. Bill’s remediation involves learning and practicing executive function skills and memory exercises.
Eve has a language disorder that compounds and causes low self-esteem and depression. Her comprehension issues with spoken instruction and abstract concepts make her quiet and withdrawn from the company of her peers. This sense of isolation that she is “the only one with a problem” is typical and can be difficult to bypass. Eve does not wish to be a burden to others, so she runs away from home. Students like Eve might feel nothing but hopelessness and despair when it comes to school. Eve’s family and friends come together to show their love for her and to try to help her move beyond her depression. Eve’s course of treatment is to meet with a speech and language therapist to improve her language abilities.
Derek has challenges with social and motor skills. Socially, Derek is unable to see things from other people’s perspectives. He is unintentionally cruel and unable to read social situations. Like most children with similar problems, he has high aptitude for academics and facts in areas of personal interest. However, this further isolates him from his classmates since his abundance of knowledge is intimidating or he unwittingly uses it to put others down. Derek’s poor control over his motor skills makes him feel lonelier due to his inability to participate in athletic activities with classmates. Derek’s parents and teacher form a plan to help him improve his social skills. He meets with a social worker in a group setting to learn and practice social skills. For improving his motor coordination, he chooses a sport that interests him the most and practices it.
All Kinds of Minds is an informative book targeted at children and their families. The book’s language is suitable for elementary-age children because it relates learning disorders and mental work to doing “mind work.” Mind work is Dr. Levine’s way of addressing an individual’s issues without allowing the issue to overshadow personality or character. Dr. Levine reminds us all that we are unique individuals who have goals, fears, dreams, likes, and dislikes because all minds are different.
(All Kinds of Minds is one of the many resources available in the TFALC Lending Library.)