A Review of One Child by Torey L. Hayden
Introduction: An Overview of the Story
Torey L. Hayden's One Child is a very sensitive report of the relationship that grew and developed between Ms. Hayden, a special education teacher, and one of her pupils, a six-year old girl named Sheila L. Sheila was a tragic example of a child who has been abused and neglected. The daughter of a 14-year-old mother, Sheila was born in poverty and raised in abuse, including being abandoned by her mother on a busy freeway when she was just six years old.
This abuse led Sheila to violent behavior, and she was arrested for the act of setting a playmate, a young boy, on fire. She was then sentenced to be committed to a state hospital for evaluation and therapy and was considered to be totally unmanageable. Ms. Hayden was asked to take Sheila into her Special Ed class until a space in the hospital opens up. When Sheila came to class the first time, she was dirty, unwashed, and totally withdrawn. She refused to speak or participate in any way. The book details the incredible way that Ms. Hayden was able to work with Sheila and teach her not only to socialize but to gain respect for herself. There are many emotional and impressive scenes and several important educational ideas in the book, five of those scenes will be discussed here.
The first event to be discussed was the description of Sheila's first day in class and her interaction with Ms. Hayden and the eight other maladjusted students. Sheila was carried to the discussion group "folded up into a lump, her arms wrapped tightly around her knees" ( 20). Because Sheila wet her pants and had not washed at home, she smelled and all of the kids were making fun of her. What impressed me was the way Ms. Hayden did not criticize the children, but slowly worked them around to admitting that they themselves would feel bad if someone were making fun of them.
The second event significant eve...