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Elon professor co-authors new edition of special education guide

Navigating the world of special education can be daunting, especially for parents with no experience having their child tested for a learning disability. Elon University associate professor Linda Wilmshurst recognized that fear, and this fall, the second edition of a book she co-authored five years ago is being released with more resources and updated information on trends that all parents and teachers should have.

Associate professor Linda Wilmshurst: "Special education can be very overwhelming for everyone."

Published by Jossey-Bass and co-authored with Alan Brue, a school psychologist in Georgia, The Complete Guide to Special Education: Expert Advice on Evaluations, IEPs, and Helping Kids Succeed includes information on “Response to Intervention,” a new approach to identifying learning disabilities in the classroom.

It also contains expanded coverage of autism spectrum disorders and bipolar disorders. “Special education can be very overwhelming for everyone,” said Wilmshurst, who joined the Department of Psychology in 2005. “We’ve tried to make it a user-friendly book in examples, charts, and homework review sheets.”

Much to their surprise, the authors discovered that classroom teachers had been using the first edition of the book, too. Regular teachers don’t always have the special education background they often find they need in today’s environment, Wilmshurst said. The second edition is geared toward educators for that reason.

If nothing else, the authors said they hope the book empowers parents. Mom and dad should be a voice for their child if traditional learning methods aren’t effective. “When children are young, parents really need to be the advocate. As they grow older, you teach children to be advocates for themselves,” Wilmshurst said. “With special education, some disabilities are more obvious, and others are hidden and subtle.”

The Complete Guide to Special Education marks Wilmshurst's fifth book, including its first edition, titled A Parent's Guide to Special Education: Insider Advice on How to Navigate the System and Help Your Child Succeed. She also authored Abnormal Child Psychology: A Developmental Perspective, Essentials of Child Psychopathology and Child and Adolescent Psychopathology: A Casebook.

Wilmshurst earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology from the University of Windsor and her doctorate from the University of Toronto. She is a diplomate in clinical psychology (ABPP) and a licensed school psychologist.

Her current research interests focus on the impact of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on college students.

Eric Townsend,
10/6/2010 11:01 AM