A Mother's Story
Melanie, Bird with a Broken Wing
Early Childhood
Professional insight on working with special needs families-from a mom who's been on both sides of the desk
71134 978-1-59857-113-4
2010 232
Available Stock

Gripping, raw, and beautiful, this book reveals the struggles and rewards of caring for a child with severe disability and helps professionals work more sensitively and effectively with families of children with special needs. Written with grace and candor by special education professional Beth Harry, the book chronicles the life of her daughter, Melanie, who was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy and died less than 6 years later.

Captivating the reader from page one, Dr. Harry illuminates the full spectrum of her parenting experiences—from the day her "little bird" came into the world to the day she left. Readers will come away with a deep understanding of

  • the complex emotions that parents experience as they adjust to life with a child who has special needs
  • the practical and emotional aspects of supporting a child with feeding difficulties, vision impairment, and limited motor skills
  • the joy parents experience when their child begins to communicate and make personal connections
  • the lasting impact a professional's words can have on a parent, and the need to provide positive support that allows a child to reach her full potential
  • the services, therapies, and interventions that improved Melanie's quality of life-and how they've changed since her story began in the 1970s

Ideal for use as a supplemental text in courses for preservice early interventionists, early childhood special educators, special educators, and health professionals, this book gives readers an unforgettable inside look at what families experience when their child has a disability—and how to meet their needs as their child grows. And, a Reader's Guide is included! Perfect for use in the classroom or in book clubs, the thought-provoking discussion questions help professionals absorb the book's lessons and apply them to everyday practice with families.

Eye-opening and inspiring, Melanie, Bird with a Broken Wing will leave a lasting impression and will, as Dr. Harry urges, prepare readers "to believe the messages of their hearts as they make professional decisions."

Part I

  1. With a Whimper
  2. Melanie
  3. Empty Hands
  4. The Sweet Bird
  5. The Dream Is Me
  6. Crashing
  7. Gargling
  8. Choking
  9. Vomiting
  10. In Our Hands
  11. "Oh God! No!"
  12. The Bearer of Bad News
  13. Nestargel
  14. The Spiral Staircase
  15. Smiling
  16. Initial Assessments
  17. Seeing
  18. Interpreting
  19. Swallowing
  20. Invisible Chains
  21. Love and Faith
  22. Mummy Therapy
  23. A Very Sick Baby
  24. The Turning Point
  25. Sleep Feeding
  26. Thriving
  27. Naming the World
  28. Morning Has Broken

Part II

  1. Mark
  2. Seeking Another View
  3. The Forest or the Trees?
  4. Joan and Wendy
  5. The Shade of the Immortelle
  6. Bobath Therapy
  7. A Temporary Goodbye
  8. "Yes!"
  9. Back to School
  10. Magnificent Helpers
  11. A Happy Four-Year-Old
  12. A New Decade
  13. Dynamic Reassessment
  14. CT Scan
  15. Brain Gazing
  16. Mercedes and Elizabeth
  17. The Spreading Branches of the Immortelle
  18. A Fairy Tale Morning
  19. From Fairy Tale to Nightmare
  20. The Worst of Times
  21. The End
  22. She Looks All Right
  23. Good-bye

Reader's Guide


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Susan Lani Stewart, Community of Practice and Curriculum Coordinator, SpecialQuest Birth-Five - June 3, 2010
"There are many points in the book where I would ask the students to discuss the situation from multiple angles—maybe even do some role playing—and then think about how they might, as professionals, change how they interact parents as a result of the reading . . . [this book] is truly a gift to many."
Janette Klingner, Associate Professor of Education, School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder - February 2, 2010
"A wonderful book! It is beautifully and honestly written—a true testament to a mother's love."
Sharon Vaughn, University of Texas, Austin - January 27, 2010
"A must read for anyone working with individuals with disabilities . . . a remarkable story told from the heart."
Karen Pape, Medical Director, TASC Network, Toronto, Canada - January 27, 2010
"This book about a child and her mother, written with compassion and insight, is a must read text for healthcare professionals."
Janette Long, M.A. special education candidate, The Ohio State University - January 27, 2010
"Anyone in the field of special needs and special education should read the book . . . it gives us a nice glimpse into the life and mind of a mother of a child with special needs. I would recommend this book to anyone."
Tara McCarthy, M.Ed. visual impairment candidate, The Ohio State University - January 27, 2010
"This was not just a story for parents, it was both a professional and a life lesson . . . the unfiltered emotional descriptions throughout the story, the heartfelt poetry, and the photographs of Melanie truly inspired me."
Megan Rutschilling, M.Ed. visual impairment candidate, The Ohio State University - January 27, 2010
"Shows what love, spirit, believing, and never giving up can do. Everyone should read it!"
Christina Woolard, M.A. intervention specialist candidate, The Ohio State University - January 27, 2010
"Outstanding . . . As I read this book I cried, laughed, and felt fortunate that the author chose to share her daughter with us. What a beautiful story of strength, hope, determination, and love. I would certainly recommend this book for future classes."
Jessica Ware, M.Ed. hearing impairments candidate, The Ohio State University - January 27, 2010
"Beth Harry has shown great courage and progression of strength through her ability to recall the events of her daughter's life and create such an inspiring piece of work."
Gail Ensher, Professor of Early Childhood Special Education, Syracuse University; co-author, Families, Infants, & Young Children at Risk: Pathways to Best Practice - January 27, 2010
"Instructive, compassionate, beautifully written, and truly inspirational—a must read for every student and professional who works with families and children with disabilities and special health care needs."
Robert Naseef, Psychologist, parent, author Special Children, Challenged Parents, co-editor Voices from the Spectrum - January 27, 2010
"This beautifully written memoir is deeply moving and insightful. With courage and honesty this mother struggles through her darkest moments which unfold into a profound connection with her child."
Penny Camps, Child & Adolescent Center, Trinidad & Tobago - January 27, 2010
"This exquisitely written memoir shows the awesome responsibility professionals have in appreciating and reinforcing a parent's hopefulness. Beth's interactions with professionals show how hope can contribute to or undermine a parent's strength, a child's development, and the family's enthusiasm in engaging the arduous but always fulfilling journey."
Batya Elbaum, Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Miami - October 23, 2009
"A moving and beautifully crafted memoir…"
Nancy Henderson, Exceptional Parent magazine - September 23, 2009
"The details in Harry's story are painfully wrenching and often quite riveting despite the familiarity of her ordeal, which many families of children with disabilities will understand."
Author: Beth Harry