Rethinking Learning Disabilities

Understanding Children Who Struggle in School

Deborah Paula Waber

Paperbacke-bookprint + e-book
September 6, 2011
ISBN 9781462503346
Price: $37.00
241 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
Copyright Date: 2010
June 6, 2017
PDF and ePub ?
Price: $37.00
241 Pages
Copyright Date: 2010
print + e-book
Paperback + e-Book (PDF and ePub) ?
Price: $74.00 $44.40
241 Pages
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“Expands our thinking about treating learning disabilities by offering us a different perspective from which to understand and respond to children who struggle in school....Waber's book presents a developmental strategy for considering learning disabilities.....Her model is designed to complement current research-based, skill-focused models, which she suggests are necessary but not sufficient for solving the problems of struggling students....Waber's book gives us strategies to think in novel and creative ways by integrating a developmental perspective into our practices. This is a definite must-read.”

Educational Therapist

“Waber proposes a well-thought-out developmental model of learning disabilities that incorporates Piagetian (Piaget, 1963) views of adaptation, risk, and resilience and the notion of 'good fit' between the child and his or her learning environment....A very readable and fascinating book that incorporates scientific research and case studies....Waber's writing style is clear and understandable. She uses simple yet interesting analogies (e.g. comparing the child's brain and learning environment to a basketball team and brain specialization to a start-up business) and offers numerous vignettes and examples to make her points. The book clearly illustrates Waber's advanced knowledge of developmental psychology, clinical neuropsychology, genetics, comparative psychology, special education, and educational law, as well as her skill in distilling and integrating research findings from these disparate areas into her learning disabilities development model....I believe that this book will do for the field of learning in general what Sally Shaywitz's (2003) book Overcoming Dyslexia did for the field of dyslexia.”


Rethinking Learning Disabilities provided a useful framework for my graduate-level learning disabilities course. The research studies cited were compelling and clearly explained, and students appreciated the experience-near clinical case examples. The text deepened our class discussion and helped us maintain focus on the cultural and social context that is paramount in understanding individuals with learning problems.”

—Sandra T. Mann, PsyD, Center for Professional Psychology, George Washington University

“Waber's perspective is sophisticated and exceptional, having evolved from her developmental psychology background, her neuropsychological research, and her applied/practical clinical work. She never oversimplifies (while describing lucidly) the multiple factors from which 'learning disabilities' emerge.”

—Martha Bridge Denckla, MD, Director, Developmental Cognitive Neurology, Kennedy Krieger Institute; Professor of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

“It was with gratitude that I read each chapter of this book, immediately identifying its relevance for graduate students in school psychology, developmental psychology, and special education. Waber's thoughtful case study analyses comprehensively examine each child as a learner in the multiple contexts of his or her life, instead of focusing narrowly on the culture of school. She addresses the individualized education plan and beyond, emphasizing the child's need to develop a sense of identity and self-esteem. This perspective is too often overlooked.”

—Jane Utley Adelizzi, PhD, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology

“Waber brings a much-needed lifespan developmental perspective to bear on both science and practice in the field of learning disabilities. This book is 'must' reading for anyone interested in how advances in cognitive neuroscience are changing the way we think about the many children who struggle in school, and how this new science can lead to more humane, individualized education for all children.”

—Bruce F. Pennington, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, University of Denver

“Waber’s wise and thoughtful book is a revelation. Most books about learning disabilities are too narrowly focused on one aspect of the problem to understand or address it meaningfully. As a first-rate neuropsychological researcher, Waber has the ability to consider, and then integrate, all of the parts of the whole child: genetics, neuroscience, development, psychology, epigenetics. As a practicing clinician who sees real children from real schools, she also has the vision to recognize that learning disabilities cannot be adequately understood or remediated by considering only the child. Her developmental approach—addressing the abilities and disabilities of both children and their environments—is clear sighted, refreshing, brilliant, and hopeful.”

—David Rose, PhD, Chief Education Officer, Center for Applied Special Technology, Wakefield, Massachusetts; Lecturer, Harvard Graduate School of Education