ACT Learning Book Recommendation: The Child with Special Needs

ACT Learning Centre is always looking to provide parents and caretakers with tools and resources to help and guide you on your journey. Our book recommendation today comes from Dr. Serena Wieder and Dr. Stanley Greenspan; The Child With Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth.

As a parent or caregiver of a child with special needs it is important to find the right resources to guide your journey, to learn from and to create a community of support. We are proud to highlight work from leading clinicians Dr. Serena Wieder and Stanley Greenspan, in their book The Child with Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth.

Stanley Greenspan, internationally known for his work with infants, young children, and their families, and his colleague, nationally recognized child psychologist Serena Wieder, have for the first time integrated their award-winning research and clinical experience into a definitive guide to raising children with special needs. In this essential work they lay out a complete, step-by-step approach for parents, educators, and others who work with developmental problems. 

Cindy Harrison, Speech Language Pathologist and Co-Founder of ACT Learning Centre, interviewed Dr. Wieder about the book and her work.

CH: What motivated you to write the book The Child with Special Needs?

 SW: The late Stanley Greenspan and I wrote this book because we believed “development belongs to everyone!”, typical and neurotypical alike, and wanted to go beyond the labels attributed to developmental disorders, be it autism, pervasive developmental delays, language and speech problems, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADHD and more. Their cups always appeared half empty, identified by deficits with interventions prescribed in silos, “do this, and this, and this….”. We saw the absence of a  theoretical, unifying picture of the development of the whole child , their relationships and the impact of the world they live in.

  Based on our many years of experience, as well as a six year longitudinal NIMH research study of infant-parent development, we created a prospective model of how development unfolds and the functional capacities necessary for life long relating, communicating and thinking. We called this the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship based Model (DIRÒ). By understanding the child’s individual biologic sensory and motor profile they bring to the world, this model guides parents and professionals in the relational interactions and interventions needed to advance emotional and intellectual growth.


CH: What do you hope parents/caregivers/therapists will get from your book?

 SW: This book will provide new ways to think about their child’s development, their unique responses to sensation and movement, their emotional life, and the unique techniques to help their child develop intentionality and agency, adapt in daily living, become socially competent, and thrive emotionally. It is a self-reflective model where parents/therapists/educators are part of the interactions that help the child advance. Caregivers of all disciplines are given the tools to reflect on their experience, as well as the meaning of their child’s feelings and behavior. Caregivers will have a framework to follow to support functional and emotional goals through Floor Time and play play. Most importantly, their relationship will provide the safety and security to encourage agency and hope in a model that integrates body, mind and heart.


CH:Can you give an elevator type statement about the book, “this book will…

SW:This book brings body, mind and emotions together in ways that provide hope and understanding that development has its own timetable and relationships are at the heart of the progress.

We hope this book will bring you the guidance, encouragement and education it has brought to us at ACT Learning Centre.

Click here to learn more about The Child with Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth.