PFCEC Resource Reviews

Last Update 8-25-00

Book Reviews

bulletEducating Children with Multiple Disabilities: A Transdisciplinary Approach
bulletPeterson's Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities (4th ed.)

Product reviews

bulletWYNN - What You Need Now!



The first chapter of Orelove and Sobsey's book describes the needs of children with multiple disabilities and educational teaming approaches. Student needs are categorized as physical, medical, educational, social and emotional. Professionals working with students with multiple disabilities are able to identify a variety of barriers within those categories that inhibit the education of these students.

The authors go on to explain that the reason there are so many people on educational teams is due to the students' wide variety of needs. They list the special educator, associate teacher (paraprofessional), physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech/language therapist, family members, caregivers, psychologist, social workers, administrators, vision specialists, audiologists, nurses, nutritionists/dietitians and physicians as possible members of the educational team which may serve any of the students. They make distinctions among the Multidisciplinary Team Model, the Interdisciplinary Team Model and the Transdisciplinary Team Model.

In the Multidisciplinary Team Model, the various professionals listed above work with the student on an individual basis with very little or no overlap among the disciplines. In the Interdisciplinary Team Model, more interaction and communication take place and programming may be accomplished through group consensus, however, assessment and implementation are accomplished within each discipline.

The Transdisciplinary Team Model, on the other hand, is characterized by the sharing of information and skills across disciplines. Indirect services and consultation are two highlights of this model. Because of the sharing of responsibilities, role release is essential to the process, that is, some members of the team may need to release their functions within the team to other team members. For example, special educators have been known to position students based on consultation from the physical therapist and to implement speech and occupational therapy strategies throughout the school week even though those specialists are not present.

The team concept itself can pose obstacles. The relationship among members takes time to develop and each member must be willing to collaborate closely and to relinquish individual power. Interpersonal, intrapersonal and group identity factors will determine the effectiveness of the team which, in turn, affects the education of the students with multiple disabilities. Other challenges include: differences in philosophy and orientation, the diminishment of professional status, professional ethics and liability, isolation of parents, the threat of training others and the threat of being trained, role conflict or ambiguity, misunderstanding of approach, resistance to change and logistics of implementation.

Administrators are urged to facilitate the implementation of transdisciplinary teams by: encouraging individuals to view themselves as being responsible to the team, the student and the family; modeling appropriate behavior in team meetings; arranging schedules to allow time for consultation, direct therapy and indirect therapy; encouraging a data-based model of instruction; and giving the model time to work.

The other chapters in the book are "The Sensorimotor Systems," "Handling and Positioning," "Developing Instructional Adaptations," "Children with Special Health Care Needs," "Integrating Health Care and Educational Programs," "Communication Skills," Mealtime Skills," "Self-Care Skills," "Curriculum and Instruction," "Children with Sensory Impairments" and "Working with Families."

I believe this book is a "must have" for anyone working on a transdisciplinary team or for anyone who would like to develop such a team. I was able to obtain this book through the Internet at <> within a week at a cost of $38 plus shipping and handling.

Carol R. Eisenbise, M.Ed.
PFCEC Treasurer

Peterson's Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities (4th ed.)

Mangrum, II, Charles, T, & Strichart, Stephen S. 1994. 684 pp
Peterson's Guides Pages, Princeton, NJ
Price - $31.95
Phone 1-800-338-3282
ISBN 1-56079-400-3

Before reviewing the contents of this book, let's consider why advisors should be concerned about college students with learning disabilities. First, students with learning disabilities are enrolling in higher education in ever increasing numbers in part because high schools are working harder to get students ready for post-secondary school life. Second, these students are expecting services similar to those found in high school, i.e., free, guaranteed, and individualized. Third, the increasing recognition by these students their career choices are not limited just because they have a learning disability. They can still be doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, architects, teachers, etc. And, finally, no matter where you work, no matter what you teach, you will work with students who have learning disabilities. Maybe not this year, maybe not next, but sometime soon, and you will need good solid reference material to assist you in advising these students.

Given that, Mangrum and Strichart have worked to compile a comprehensive guide of colleges with programs for students with learning disabilities. They mailed out detailed questionnaires to over 3,300 two-year and four-year colleges and universities in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and Canada. The responses of the 840+ institutions make up a bulk of the book. In the institution profiles one can find detailed information about: (1) the institution's LD services, including academic support, staff, admissions, diagnostic testing, subject area tutoring, basic skills remediation, academic advising, special courses, auxiliary aids and services, and counseling and support services; and (2) General college information, including- descriptions of undergraduates, graduation requirements, projected expenses, financial aid, housing, college life, majors and a contact person. These two sections were dependent upon survey responses from the institutions and vary from cursory to detailed.

Thought the institutions responses to the survey and the presentation of each schools response make up a bulk of the book (over 600 of the 670 pages). The first section of the book contains some of the best information I have ever seen on students with learning disabilities, how they are defined, and what the definition means. They list characteristics of the students, why colleges are providing services, how are students with learning disabilities admitted, what types of assistance colleges are providing, and how high schools prepare students with learning disabilities for college.

A section many students and advisors will find most helpful is the selection on selecting a college. They have provided a detailed list of questions for the student to ask about the college (and for advisors to ask of themselves and their schools) and of students with learning disabilities in the program. One very helpful addition is a checklist for comparing learning disability programs and services at different institutions. It was concise, easy to read and will help a lot of students.

The authors have provided a new first for this edition, the information about the different institutions is on disk (for Windows only). This allows searching, comparing, listing with the click of a button. It was very easy to use. The only real difference from the printed version is it lacks information about majors offered by the different schools.

As you can see from the above statements, I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciate this book. If you are to get one book on working with college students with learning disabilities, this should be the one. However, institutions not included may have very good programs for students with learning disabilities (my university was not included, for example) so students need to contact schools to determine the answers to specific questions they might have. All students should supplement a book like this with visits to the campus directly and meetings with the program staff. A book should not replace face-to-face contact. But, this book comes as close as we can get.

David Bateman, Ph.D.
Teacher Education Department
Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
[email protected]


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