Have you ever read something and had an “Ah-ha” moment? As if you had found the missing piece of the puzzle? As if suddenly a light bulb went on and everything made perfect sense? The fog had cleared and for the first time you could see where you were going?
That is how I felt when I read The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz. This book is about Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD, once called Sensory Integration Dysfunction. These are a group of neurological disorders that affect how a person takes in and processes input from the senses. For some people with this disorder, the world around them is overwhelming with too many sights, sounds, smells and feelings. They may withdraw almost like a wounded animal from these sensations. Other people seem almost numb, it can take extremes to awaken their senses and provide them with sufficient stimulation. For my child, she is a sensory seeker. Higher, faster, and more are her mantra. No swing is ever high enough. No round-about ever fast enough. She could play and climb for hours and it would always be…more.
This disorder is often unrecognized and misdiagnosed as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), particularly in sensory seeking children like my daughter. One obstacle that many parents have with getting their child properly diagnosed and treated is that SPD is not yet recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM for short. This is the bible for most doctors and psychologists. For many, if a condition is not in the DSM then it is not real. But the problem is that like the Bible itself, it can take decades for the few scientists involved in writing it to agree on the name and specifics diagnostic criteria of a condition. What’s more the DSM is culturally biased, once not so long ago homosexuality was listed as a mental condition.
This book designed to give parents and teachers basic insights into these complicated issues and the behaviors associated with this disorder that may affect as many as one in every twenty children. It provides a basic overview of how the nervous system works and how things may go wrong for some people. One of the most brilliant things about it is the check lists that can help you pinpoint areas of concern for your child’s development. The final section offers insights into diagnosis and treatment; how you can help your child at home and seeing his/her behaviors in a new light.
I must admit that some of the physiology of the nervous system is a bit tedious as she repeats it for each type of the disorder. I tended to just skip over it after a while. Likewise parts of the section on schools is not relevant for a homeschooling family, but I was delighted to discover this quote when she talked about what to do if there was not a good-fit with your child’s school:
Homeschool your child. Many children learn best at home, where they can go at their own pace without distractions.
And her advice on classroom strategies can be adapted to homeschooling as well. Advice such as: reduce sensory overload, provide comfortable furniture, and plan transitions carefully can help maximize your child’s learning abilities at home as much as in the classroom setting.
Overall, I found this book very helpful if a bit overwhelming in terms of neurology. If your child exhibits any of the following unexplained behaviors, it might be worth checking out Carol Stock Kranowitz’s The Out-of-Sync Child:
- Withdraws from touch, refuses to wear certain clothes
- Covers eyes or ears at bright lights or loud noises
- Extremely picky eater, preferring certain textures and temperatures
- Constantly seeking movement
- Unable to catch himself when falling
- Seems accident prone or careless.
For a more complete list of behaviors, check out http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/sensory-processing-disorder-checklist.html. If as a parent some of this resonates with you then grab a copy of this book and arm yourself with knowledge before tackling the complex medical systems of diagnosis and treatment.
And join me on Friday as we look at how ‘unschooling’ may as Carol says in the book help your child ‘go at their own pace.’ Then next Tuesday, I will review “The Edison Gene” by Thom Hartman, an alternative view of ADHD.