"Blackbird" by The Beatles ~ Jaimie's and Chynna's favorite song
Having struggles and successes with a child who has Sensory Processing Disorder is an exhausting and bittersweet battle. Chynna Laird's book offers messages of both hope and a sense of "you're not alone in this" to the reader who seeks more enlightenment on this somewhat obscure and misunderstood problem called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Disorder.
Often mislabeled in the categories of autism, Asbergers, or even "gifted," SPD is a neurological or genetic problem that a child manifests as early as infancy, and which may be progressive up to later years if it's not discovered and facilitated for the child's health and well-being.
The Disorder is often recognized when a child fails to make eye contact, withdraws from or rejects human contact of any kind including being picked up and hugged even by parents, exhibits hyperactive or underactive behaviors at different times, has a multitude of issues with clothing, fine motor skills, eating foods, smells and noises, making transitions, and going into the outside world in general.
It is amazing to me how Ms Laird even had a moment's time to write her book! Her precious daughter, Jaimie, has a severe case of SPD requiring nearly constant care and intervention. But her dedication to her daughter, her family of 3 other children, her husband, the therapists and doctors and teachers who worked in tandem to reach her child...and to families who may feel isolated as they wonder what is wrong with their child and how to find help, gifted her with what has to be a Herculean strength to set down a lighted path for others. She is to be highly commended for her efforts and her love to all concerned.
This is a book for parents, family members, teachers and professional care-givers. It's a word of instruction as well as a word of caution and hope. It's a book that deserves a hardback edition and much more press!
The only thing I found missing in all her suggestions to parents was an urging to take care of themselves! Strangely enough, Ms Laird doesn't mention taking time out to refresh, recoup and relax so one can be ready to meet the challenges a child with SPD presents. Of all the suggestions...I think this should be high on the list. In her writings about recognizing and finding help for Jaimie, she doesn't mention having taken time for herself or with her husband and other children apart from Jaimie. As a mother who had gifted children who demanded my attention in a similar fashion; that is, they weren't on the average track of most children, I found this advice sadly absent from Chynna's book because I know how important it is.
I hardily recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject matter, in seekers of "what's wrong with my child," as well as for therapists interested in a teaching tool for parents of SPD children.
It would prove an interesting read for parents who may have a child with SPD being integrated into their own child's classroom. And, if you are an adult with such issues as described above, you may want to read this comprehensive book. I found it most helpful in many respects!
Deb/Your Bookish Dame
For more information from Chynna Laird and about SPD visit her at her blog: http://www.lilywolfwords.ca/
*Additionally, please read the comments left by Chynna to all of you and me recently, after she read my review:
Hi Deborah! Thanks so very much both for reading "Not Just Spirited" as well as for your wonderful post about it. I appreciate your support so much. I thought I would drop by and comment. =)
First of all I just wanted to talk a bit more about SPD in case any of your readers had questions. The nervous system has the very important job of taking in sensory messages from the environment through the various sensory systems then turning them into appropriate sensory, behavioral and motor responses. SPD interferes with this 'sensory processing' and the messages, then, aren't understood or processed properly causing what Dr. A. Jean Ayres (who discovered SPD and began the important reasearch on the disorder) described as a 'traffic jam' in the brain. In a nutshell, this means that children and adults living with SPD aren't able to interact with or respond to things or people in their environments appropriately because their brains aren't able to 'read' the messages from the sensory organs and, therefore, can't tell the body how to react to sensory stimuli effectively.
The symptoms you listed are what we noticed in Jaimie. These are not 'typical' of all children who have SPD as each child has a unique form of the disorder and will, therefore, display different symptoms. Jaimie's form of SPD is considered on the more severe side of things because all 7 of her sensory systems are affected and deals with tremendous anxiety because of that. She is in therapy now and is coping much better.
Another point is that many of the symptoms are 'comorbid' with other conditions (that just means that there are symptoms that resemble those in other conditions) such as Autism, Asperger's or ADHD. And, as you mentioned, there are gifted children who also display certain traits of SPD. Having SPD doesn't necessarily mean these individuals have the other conditions--only an appropriate professional can determine this.
What's important to mention is that if caregivers suspect their child struggles with sensory issues, they should seek the assistance of a trained professional who understands sensory processing, SPD and knows how to assess and diagnose it properly. I cannot stress enough how important that is. Find someone who will listen and guide you to the RIGHT resources!!
For more information about SPD, including finding a therapist close to you, please go to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation's website (www.spdfoundation.net). This is the main portal for anyone wanting more information or direction for helping their child or loved one.
And on a sidenote, I thank you so much for mentioning the importance of parents taking that "Me Time". I do not discuss this in the book as much as I should have (and that's because I was so focused on helping JAIMIE first) but readers will truly understand WHY you need it after reading our story. I now write many articles on the importance of taking that time to recharge, regroup and get back in touch with ourselves and ways you can do it. VERY VERY important.
I hope this helps to clarify a few things and I welcome your readers to check out both my website as well as my blog (www.the-gift-blog.com)and feel free to contact me through either. I also have a Facebook page for the book that your readers are more than welcome to join, chat and share.
Thank you for participating in this blanket book tour.