I know it took a while to finish, but well worth it. Gail Saltz has set out to redefine the stigmas associated with what has been called mental disorders/disabilities, terms she tried to move from by calling them 'brain differences.' Everyone is different, she argues, and as such everybody's brains will be different too--in how they process information, the output that results, how they function within school and work (and society as a whole). She emphasizes the importance of shaping education to fit students' learning needs and refraining from holding them to a standard that works against them and their attempts at success in a standardized, conformist society. She also highlights the importance in finding positives that come from brain differences--such as someone with a dyslexic type disorder better able to visually absorb information, thus making them better at pattern/difference recognition.
The overall message in The Power of Different is to recognize that individuals with brain differences are just as equally able to contribute and succeed in society, despite our society's desire to hold them to standards they will never be able to meet with how their brains operate. The education in place does not currently accommodate those with brain differences, not does society hold welcoming arms to these people, and these are changes that need to happen.
Aside from the important message, I am greatly impressed with how easy The Power of Difference is to read. I found myself reading slowly because it was very interesting and thought-provoking, but I also found myself able to understand the research/studies she cited and explained; the medical/scientific explications throughout were extremely accessible, which I always appreciate.
From a personal perspective, I found myself identifying with some of the descriptions in the Distractibility chapter and with all identifiers in the Anxiety chapter (the former a surprise, the latter a known my entire life). I will say that this book would not be good for a hypochondriac to read, because I could see self-diagnosis in their future. (That wouldn't be good for anyone, and diagnosis is always best left to the professionals.) However, I can see how this would be a great book for a parent of a brain difference child to read--it would be comforting to me if I was struggling to help my child fit in and succeed.
If you are interested in studies of the mind and combating mental disability/illness stigmas, this books would be a good pick for you. However, it is also possible that certain chapters would work best if you already have information regarding your own brain difference.
4/5 stars because it is really well done, really reader friendly. :)