Different Croaks for Different Folks: All About Children with Special Learning Needs – Midori Ochiai
This is a story about tadpoles and frogs and about how some are different in certain ways or find things more difficult to do. So why frogs? Well I have no idea to be honest – I just find myself asking that question.
The story is presented across a series of “Teacher Toad’s Special Lessons”, and covers a wide range of different needs that are identifiable but are never labelled, and are represented in (mostly) frog related events. Some of the areas that readers will be able to identify include: proprioceptive difficulties, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism, and sensory processing disorder.
It might seem like all frogs are supposed to just know this stuff without needing a picture. But this frog feels scared when she doesn’t know ahead of time what a place looks like, or exactly where things (like snakes and spiders) are, or what might happen where. It really helps her when a grown-up takes the time to show her.
As well as describing how these differences appear or how these difficulties might manifest, the story goes through the different ways that Teacher Toad changes things to help and accommodate the frogs and their needs. Again some of these a frog based things like providing a travel-sized leaf that helps a frog feel safe, but others are more human based like teaching conversation and social skills and literacy and numeracy skills.
But there’s a simple trick that can help him understand how to keep his distance: he can imagine that he and his friends are all surrounded by large “safety bubbles” filled with air.
After the lessons there is a sort of wrapping up the story with a general recap of the accepting message portrayed throughout the book.
After this the book then has some other sections. This kind of disrupts the flow of the book a bit; because after all the end sections it is difficult to say who this book is aimed at (children, parents, professionals) and it seems like the author tried to aim it at all three. So that’s a bit jarring. There’s a message to children; a section for parents; and a section on developmental differences. They’re reasonably short and as a result they give you a bit of information but not that much – so it’s difficult to say how valuable their inclusion was. I suppose if this was one of the first books a parent or teacher bought then these inclusions would be quite valuable – but I don’t know that this book is well-known enough for that to be the case.
For example, take the case of a child who has difficulty concentrating and occasionally gets up and wanders around a bit during class. Such a child would not be diagnosed as having ADHD if he or she were able to concentrate and complete assignments when allowed several rest breaks and were able to return to their seat and attend to the lesson when asked to. A diagnosis, then, is part of a coordinated effort to give a child help that is genuinely needed; if a child is managing reasonably well, then a diagnostic label and medical intervention are simply not necessary.
Is it worth reading?
The actual story part is worth reading because it is a well written and unique way of explaining differences within the classroom. The information sections at the end are not as worthwhile due to their brevity.