Book Review

Title: Life Story Books for People with Learning Disabilities: a practical guide, by Helen Hewitt, 2006

Publisher: London : BILD Publications

ISBN: 1-904082-76-9

Price: Price £16.00 (softcover)

Description: 70 p.

Life Story Books for People with Learning Disabilities: a Practical Guide, by Helen Hewitt, lives up to its title, explaining to readers the nature of a life story book, its purpose and rationale, and how such a book is constructed. Readers should be aware that the term 'learning disabilities' carries a different connotation in the United Kingdom, where this book was published, than in the United States. In the U.S., 'learning disabilities' refers to cognitive deficits that negatively impact learning; the same term in the United Kingdom additionally refers to people with such significant handicaps that they require long-term treatment in hospitals and extended care facilities. That said, the author makes a strong case for the use of life story books in a variety of care situations as a way to help people with disabilities retain a sense of their identity and to help care givers view their clients in a more humane light. To document the usefulness of life story books, Ms. Hewitt cites her previous research, which showed that staff in a residential setting found that life story books helped them to get to know their clients, learn about the personalities of their clients, and create a care plan that took the clients' personalities into account.

A life story book is a biographical account of a person's life that includes stories and memories that document significant events and relationships in people's lives. It can take the form of a book, a poster, a digitized document, or a video. Its purpose is to help those with disabilities to grasp the concept of their identity and the various parts that make up their identity. Ms. Hewitt takes the reader through a step by step process for creating a life story book, from the ethical and treatment considerations all the way through the process of collecting information and formatting the book.

Life Story Books offers a step-by-step process for helping clients to define themselves beyond their diagnosis and for care givers to view their clients in a holistic, humane way. Creating a life story book is not a comprehensive treatment plan, but, rather, a tool to improve the quality of care for disabled clients, especially those in residential care.

Review by

Ellen Urquhart Engstrom, M.A.

Landmark College Institute for Research and Training, Putney, VT 05346

Ellen Engstrom is Associate Professor at Landmark College and an Education Specialist with the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training. She is the author of Assistive Technology: A Guide for Educators.



International Journal of Disability, Community & Rehabilitation
Volume 5, No. 2
ISSN 1703-3381