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ISBN# 0-7432-5465-1
It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend

Publication Date: 2006
Richard Lavoie

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sku# 2845P

Paperback, 394 pp

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About the Author

Rick Lavoie has served as an administrator of residential programs for children with special needs since 1972. He holds three degrees in Special Education and has served as an adjunct professor or visiting lecturer at numerous universities including Syracuse, Harvard, Gallaudet, Manhattanville College, University of Alabama and Georgetown. His numerous national television appearances include CBS Morning Show, Good Morning Amedca, ABC Evening News and Disney Channel Presents.


As any parent, teacher, coach, or caregiver of a learning disabled child knows, every learning disability has a social component. The ADD child constantly interrupts conversations and doesn't follow directions. The child with visual-spatial issues loses his belongings and causes his siblings to be late to school. The child with paralinguistic difficulties appears stiff and wooden because she fails to gesture when she talks. These children are socially out of step with their classmates and peers, and often they are ridiculed or ostracized for their differences. A successful social life is immeasurably important to a child's happiness, health, and development, but until now, no book has provided practical, expert advice on helping learning disabled children achieve social success.

For more than thirty years, Richard Lavoie has lived with and taught learning disabled children. His bestselling PBS videos, including How Difficult Can This Be?: The F.A.T. City Workshop, and his sellout lectures and workshops have made him one of the most popular and respected experts in the field. At last, Rick's pioneering techniques for helping children achieve a happy and successful social life are available in book form.

It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend offers practical strategies to help learning disabled children ages six through seventeen navigate the treacherous social waters of their school, home, and community. Rick examines the special social issues surrounding a wide variety of learning disabilities, including ADD and other attentional disorders, anxiety, paralinguistics, visual-spatial disorders, and executive functioning. Then he provides proven methods and step-by-step instructions for helping the learning disabled child through almost any social situation, including choosing a friend, going on a playdate, conducting a conversation, reading body language, overcoming shyness and low self-esteem, keeping track of belongings, living with siblings, and adjusting to new settings and situations.

Perhaps the most important component of this book is the author's compassion. It comes through on every page that Rick feels the intensity with which children long for friends and acceptance, the exasperation they can cause in others, and the joy they feel in social connection. It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend answers the most intense yet, until now, silent need of the parents, teachers, and caregivers of learning disabled children -- or anyone who is associated with a child who needs a friend.


"Some learning challenged students are gifted socially, while others painfully struggle. Rick Lavoie's new book is a wonderful resource for parents and professionals alike who seek to guide those in need through their social and emotional hurdles."
-- Barbara Wilson, M.S. Ed, Director, Wilson Language Training

"Some learning challenged students are gifted socially, while others painfully struggle. Rick Lavoie's new book is a wonderful resource for parents and professionals alike who seek to guide those in need through their social and emotional hurdles."
-- Barbara Wilson, M.S. Ed., director, Wilson Language Training

"I am only one of hundreds who attribute my child's happiness and achievement to the skillful and loving tutelage of this pioneer."
-- Lowell Weicker, Jr.

"In a book that is very readable and filled with a broad array of practical, hands-on suggestions, Rick Lavoie addresses issues that are central to building a healthy sense of self-worth within students who often see themselves as not fitting in or equal to others. In short, this book is a tremendous contribution from a professional who has been a leader in the field of learning disabilities for well over a quarter century. A must read!"
-- Donald Deshler, University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning Department of Special Education

"I have frequently had the privilege of hearing Rick Lavoie speak to parents of children with learning disabilities. His knowledge of these disabilities and his sensitivity to the experience of the child, parents, and family are blended with wise and practical advice. I often leave these presentations thinking how great it would be if more parents could hear Rick speak. It's So Much Work To Be Your Friend is like sitting through a Rick Lavoie lecture but leaving with a full set of notes and practical ideas. Thank you, Rick, for sharing your sensitivity and knowledge and your special ability to communicate."
-- Larry B Silver, M.D., author of The Misunderstood Child

"Filled with wisdom, experience, sense, soul, and practical guidance for the everyday social matters of life, It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend offers heartfelt hope and practical help for just about every social problem children with learning disabilities experience. As with all good friends who bring comfort and practical guidance, you will visit with this book again and again. It's a social support system no parent or teacher should be without."
-- Mary Fowler, author of Maybe You Know My Kid and Maybe You Know My Teen

"The most painful part of loving a child with learning disabilities is feeling helpless when we watch them struggle with social isolation and rejection. It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend will empower you to step in and assist your child with practical solutions to their social skills problems."
-- Kate Kelly, author of You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!

"Rick Lavoie has written a truly remarkable book. He has poignantly captured the particular social skills problems faced by many children and adolescents with learning disabilities, and he outlines realistic strategies that parents and professionals can use to improve the social skills of these youngsters. Rick's knowledge, warmth, caring, and empathy are apparent on every page of this wonderful book."
-- Robert Brooks, Ph.D., author of The Self-Esteem Teacher and coauthor of Raising Resilient Children

"As a mother who has been on this journey, I know It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend will touch the lives of every parent who is raising a child with learning disabilities. I have long believed that difficulties with social skills cause the most heartache of all, and I am thrilled to discover a book that finally addresses this often overlooked issue. Rick shares his knowledge with wisdom, good humor, and deep respect for the remarkable students who teach us all."
-- Anne Ford, chairman emeritus, National Center for Learning Disabilities and author of Laughing Allegra

"An excellent resource! Rich with insights and specific suggestions to help all children master the challenges of forming satisfying social relationships."
-- Adele Faber, coauthor of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

"Rick Lavoie combines his unparalleled knowledge and experience with his extraordinary warmth and eye for detail to produce the best guide of its kind ever written. This unique book breaks new ground, a major achievement from a grand man who almost single-handedly has opened the eyes of the world to the subjective experience of learning differently. If you are a parent of such a child, or if you care about such children, you must have this book. The knowledge in it can turn a painful childhood into a joyful one."
-- Edward Hallowell, M.D., coauthor of Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction


Getting in Good
Dr. Mel Levine
Rob and Michele Reiner
Introduction: "The Other Sixteen Hours"

Part One Why Do They Do the Things They Do?: The Impact of Learning Disorders on the Development of Social Skills

  1. Children with Learning Disorders Are Wired Differently: It's All in Their Heads
  2. Anxiety: A Cause and Consequence of Social Isolation
  3. Language Difficulties: Getting and Giving the Message
  4. Paralinguistics: Words Carry the Message, Body Language Carries the Emotion
  5. Attention Deficit Disorder: The Social Lives of the Unhappy Wanderers
Part Two Social Skills on the Homefront: Dealing with Parents, Siblings, and Other Strangers
  1. Enhancing Organizational Skills: Bringing Order and Structure to the Disorganized Child
  2. Siblings and Other Strangers
  3. Playdates: The Social Coin of the Realm
Part Three Social Skills at School: Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic, and Relationships
  1. Bullies, Victims, and Spectators: Strategies to Prevent Teasing, Intimidation, and Harassment in School
  2. Mastering the Hidden Curriculum of School: The Unwritten, Unspoken Rules
  3. Teacher-Pleasing Behaviors: Polishing the Apple
Part Four Social Skills in the Community: No Kid Is an Island
  1. Appropriate Social Skills in Public Places
  2. Meeting, Making, and Keeping Friends