Sunday, August 18, 2013

Book Review: The Sensory Child Gets Organized by Carolyn Dalgliesh

As a special needs parent one of the more important aspects of making our family flow and function is that when I need information it has to be in one place, be sysinct and be applicable to my daily life. The Sensory Child Gets Organized does this very well.

The author, Carolyn Dalgliesh, has combined tried and true information in such a way as to make it easily instituted into your family. She explains the basis of sensory issues and how they apply to certain disabilities. She then goes on to show you through example and worksheet, how you can figure out just what your child needs, when they need it and what is the best way to apply what you have learned. She writes that:

                 The main goal of {her book} is to empower you and your family with a few 
                 simple, effective techniques that will help you and your child be happier, 
                 calmer and more successful.

She starts off her instructing by getting you to journal. Now we have been hearing about journaling on several different levels for  years, mostly in the vein of trying to figure out your own path in life. However, here she gives you instructions on what exactly you would be looking for and writing down  when journaling about your child. Observation is your best instrument in coming to a conclusion about what will help everyone involved function on a better level.

Your next task is to figure out just how your child learns. What is the best method to reach them. How do they assimilate information and what is the best method to do homework.  When and how to do homework. When and how to stop and start. What are the optimal conditions for your child to feel successful when they study.

Then you need to go even deeper and figure out what are your child's sensory issues. What seems to bother them the most? What are their triggers? What calms them down? How do they handle transitions? What causes them the most anxiety?

Now what do you do with all this information? You basically create a sensory friendly space for your child. The book goes into detail about calming areas, how to organize play areas,  your child's closet, desk,  schedule and how to use social stories to make their day run smoother.                                                     

The author also goes into detail on how to make your child feel comfortable when they need to go outside their comfort zone. These self-help tips can be employed so that you can support your child from everything from a trip to the dentist to a major family vacation. She discusses how to figure out your child's strengths, and weaknesses. You are then instructed how to apply that necessary support to make every time you leave the "nest" a successful and positive experience.

There is also a discussion about what your job as an advocate really means. How you can organize yourself and bring together a team that will help our child thrive. She briefly discusses the laws involved in educating a special needs child and explains the differences in supports, accommodations, medical and practical terminology.

She also gives some helpful hints when going to employ a babysitter.  Yes a babysitter. So many of us shy away from ever hiring anyone to watch out children, but Carolyn gives you some helpful hints that can make a grown-up night out fun, successful and beneficial for everyone.

Lastly, the author also touches on a subject that tends to get ignored in the special need world, the typical sibling. She talks, albeit briefly, about therapy and support to help your unaffected child process everything that is happening in their world. This tends to be the missing necessary element in every family's happiness. 

Carolyn has also created an appendix where she lists organizations, books, websites and products that she recommends. She breaks everything down into helpful categories and even products by chapter.

Carolyn Dalgliesh is the founder and owner of Systems for Sensory Kids and Simple Organizing Strategies, helping sensory families, individuals and businesses get organized. She lives in Rhode Island.

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I do have one caveat about the book, a big caveat actually. As the parent of two youngmen with autism spectrum disorders, I do NOT agree with her listing as a viable autism organization Generation Rescue. I find many of their therapies (one including having your child drink a diluted form of clorox) detrimental to the health of children and their association with the anti-vaccination movement ignorant of the real science involved in the causes of autism. (Here, Here, Here, Here, Here and more recently Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here)

Furthermore, since there is a finite amount of money for any scientific research, this obsession with vaccinations prevents those like my sons from getting the real help that they need. She should have listed the Autism Science Foundation as a science based charity that funds and grants true science-based autism research. She could have also listed any number of national and intentional groups, such as icare4autism, or Friendship Circle for support and proper scientific research.

On another note: many self-advocates do not like Autism Speaks, as they lobby for a cure for autism. However, I have no issue with those that want a cure considering the devastating effects autism can have on so many. This I find to be a personal issue and one that each family has to tackle on its own. If you ask my sons would they want to be cured, they would give you a resounding absolutely NOT. However, as a family we have participated in genetic studies to further an understanding of autism and to help others more profoundly effected within our community.

As far as all the other books and websites listed in the appendix, I have read some of the books (they are listed on my Book Recommendation page) and have found some of the advice, especially from Wrightslaw very helpful in my decades long journey with my sons. You can go to my Helpful Website page for a more thorough listing of websites that you may find suits your personal family needs.


Elise