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The Sensory-Sensitive Child: Practical Solutions for Out-of-Bounds Behavior by Karen A. Smith & Karen R. Gouze
304 pages HarperResource March 2004 Hardcover rated 4 out of 5 stars   

The Sensory-Sensitive Child: Practical Solutions for Out-of-Bounds Behavior is a book about children who, as the authors put it, are betrayed by their senses - specifically, the senses of sight, taste, smells, sounds, sensations, and balance, movement, and the positioning of the body. Science has come a long way from the days when people assumed that the body-mind health connection was only for psychosomatics, for athletes who needed the benefits of massage, or for relationship counselors. The body’s abilities to affect the brain and vice versa have been studied, and sensory integration massages has become an important aspect of brain research, especially in the area of childhood developmental illnesses.

The trouble with the studies of the senses is that the senses are often taken for granted. Parents generally assume their kids literally “feel okay.” But as research on Eastern European orphans have shown, many young people have experienced sensory deprivation. The opposite is also the case. There are children whose senses seem to be at war with them, where for some biological, genetic, neurological, or other unknown reasons, their senses are not well-integrated but overwhelm them. Children with taste sensory-sensitivity, for instance, might crave bland foods and have deep delight in eating bland foods such as white rice or noodles but at the same time will shy away from stronger-tasting fare. These children might also dislike being touched or might be disturbed by normal daylight or the turning on of a bulb. Optimum and proper sensory integration occurs when a person’s nervous system knows when to “tune out or tone” distracting stimuli. It helps to locate and distinguish different senses in different parts of the body and to judge whether those sensations are important or threatening and enabling the brain to make a decision about the sensation the body is experiencing.

The senses of a sensory-sensitive child, however, work against him. For them, there is no real comfort level, or to say it another way, their body is so busy fighting with their senses on so many fronts that their tolerance for certain sensations is at once too low and too high. On the one hand, they might be feeling and sensing everything at once and so might be impatient and overwhelmed. On the other hand, they are fighting a heroic battle to accept what they feel is a normal life, a life of sensory bombardment. Some people can listen to the television, write at a computer, talk on the phone and scratch an itch all at the same time. For the sensory-sensitive person, the sense of hearing would be a battle in and of itself. Add the itch – and in the case of school children, homework or a stomach ache - and the life of a sensory-sensitive child is a continual battle indeed.

The Sensory-Sensitive Child is a book that quite literally teaches a parent how to calm a child’s nerves. Some parts of it feels like a medical book, other part feels like a self-help book, other parts feel like a parenting book. All parts work together well. The authors seem to fully understand both the lot of the parent and the suffering child whose sensory overload which often prevents him from developing social skills, concentrating on his school work, playing with his peers, and generally enjoying life. Using the advice and reading the anecdotes in this book will help the parent guide his child – and his child’s brain– through the emotions, mental confusion, stress and pain that these children suffer. The self-awareness lessons, the step-by-step educational techniques and therapeutic directions are clear and easily-understood. The information is written in a conversational, accessible and organized manner. A highly recommended book. This book is a good complement to other books about the educational, medicinal and emotional treatment of children with developmental issues or disabilities.
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  Carole McDonnell/2005 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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