Critical book review of "One Child" by Torey Hayden.

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Critical Book Review of "One Child" by Torey Hayden

Jay Lerner

National Louis University

Critical Book Review of "One Child" by Torey Hayden

"Three were not toilet trained, two more had accidents. Three could not talk, one wouldn't. Two would not shut up. One could not see."(Hayden, 1980, p. 11) And then came Sheila! Torey Hayden has written a touchingly beautiful story about her experience one year as a special education teacher teaching what she referred to as the "garbage class". There had been classes for every type of disability. Emotionally disturbed, physically handicapped, behaviorally disordered, learning disabled had all been represented. Then there was Torey's class. It consisted of eight children beyond classification and one step away from being institutionalized. She said, "It was the class for young human refuse".(Hayden, p. 5) To add frosting to an already dysfunctional cake, Sheila is added to the mix.

She is a six-year-old girl who was being placed with Torey on a temporary basis while waiting for space to open at the state hospital. Sheila is being sent there for committing a terrible act of violence against another child.

In my experience as a substitute teacher, I have taught numerous self-contained special education classes. In all of them I was fortunate enough to have a qualified aide. I assume it is state law as was the case in Torey's situation. Not always is the aide educated in special education but he/she is a necessity in the classroom. When reading that Torey's aide is going to be an uneducated twenty nine year old migrant worker, my heart went out to her. Rounding out her staff was a fourteen-year-old junior high student who would spend her two hour study hall time...