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As a former foster child, my passion is advocating for and with foster care youth, publicizing the challenges that they face and addressing their developmental and emotional needs through workshops.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Who is Torey Hayden?
-An educational psychologist
-A former special education teacher
-A university professor
-A writer of nonfiction books based on her work with special needs children

Torey's areas of expertise include selective mutism, fetal alcohol syndrome, autism, Tourette syndrome and sexual abuse.

List of Torey's Nonfiction Books
-One Child (1980)
-Somebody Else's Kids (1981)
-Murphy's Boy (1983)
-Just Another Kid (1988)
-Ghost Girl (1991)
-Tiger's Child (1995)
-Beautiful Child (2002)
-Twilight Children (2005)

Two Books to Begin With...
If I were to recommend one of Torey Hayden's books to a first-time reader of her work, my top two picks would be "Somebody Else's Kids" and "Just Another Kid."

1.) Somebody Else's Kids:
This book charts a year in the life of a special education classroom as Torey attempts to positively impact a group of loveable and severely challenged students.

Children assigned to Torey's resource room include:
-Claudia, a pregnant 12-year-old girl
-Tomaso, an 11-year-old boy who witnessed the murder of his father
- Lori, a 7-year-old girl who prior to her adoption had been physically abused by her biological father to the point of causing severe brain damage
-Boo, a 7-year-old boy displaying autistic behavior

My favorite character was Lori:
"Her brain did not function well, yet there was nothing wrong with Lori's heart. She was full of an innate belief in the goodness of people. Despite her own experiences, evil did not exist for Lori. She embraced us all, good and bad alike, with a sort of droll acceptance. And she cared. The welfare of all the world mattered to her... She involved herself so intimately in a world so hard on those who care that I often caught my breath with fear for her. Yet Lori remained undaunted." - Torey Hayden, "Somebody Else's Kids."

2.) Just Another Kid:
This time, Torey is assigned to teach a class of emotionally disturbed children.

Her class consists of:
-Three refugees from Northern Ireland: Geraldine, Shamie and Shemona
-Dirkie, an elective mute
-Miriana, who exhibits precocious sexual behavior
-Leslie, who is autistic

The most powerful breakthrough that Torey is able to make is with Leslie's mother, Ladbrooke, who becomes the classroom aide. Ladbrooke herself is revealed to be "just another kid;" exhibiting the same vulnerability, shame and self-destructive behavior as the children in Torey's classroom.

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