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Raising a Sensory Smart Child

by Lindsey Biel and Nancy PeskePenguin Books; $22.00



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Raising a Sensory Smart Child is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, counselors, and pediatricians who'd like to know more about sensory integration dysfunction (SID), the inability to properly process information from the senses. Although it's long been known that premature children and those who experienced poor nutrition or lack of sensory stimulation in their early months are at risk for SID, diagnosis and treatment are often difficult to come by.

This book demystifies SID, clearly explaining how all seven senses—the traditional five, plus vestibular (movement) and proprioception (body awareness)—work and how difficulties with sensory processing can lead to learning or behavioral problems, as well as to developmental delays. It shows how SID differs from similar conditions, such as AD/HD or autism spectrum disorders, as well as how it can coexist with these conditions.

I have seen some doctors and psychologists jump to a conclusion of "no problem," while others advised AD/HD medication for my child with mild SID. The authors, to their credit, advise caution about automatically agreeing to medication and recommend that your child be evaluated by more than one professional.

Experts maintain that each child with SID needs an individualized program of exercise and play activities ("a sensory diet") in order to progress. The authors offer an upbeat, matter-of-fact, and comprehensive explanation, but gloss over the fact that putting a full sensory diet into place may be an overwhelming task, especially for parents who work full time.

If your child has learning or behavioral problems, this book, together with professional evaluation, will help you sort out his challenges, create a treatment plan, and work with his school. In her fascinating foreward, Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University, describes what it was like for her to grow up with both sensory processing problems and autism. "At last," she writes, "here are the insights and answers parents have been searching for."


Reviewed by Karen Braucher, M.Ed., a poet, publisher, and adoptive mom in Portland, Oregon.

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