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Friday, April 6, 2012

No Longer A SECRET

Doreit Bailer and Lucy Jane Miller’s new book No Longer a SECRET: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory Motor Challenges elaborates on how to help the sensational kids Dr. Miller describes in her book Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorders.  Although a bit more technical, No Longer A SECRET is written by two expert occupational therapists for an audience of parents and educators eager to help children better access the curriculum, make friends and develop self-esteem.

I am going to compare the two books because although there is overlapping information, each offers readers a different perspective. Both books describes the sensory systems and subtypes of Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD)- which are as follows:

·         Sensory Modulation Disorder

o   sensory over-responsivity

o   sensory under-responsivity

o   sensory craving

·         Sensory-Based Motor disorder

o   postural disorder

o   dyspraxia

·         Sensory discrimination Disorder
Both books do an excellent job of explaining red flags and symptoms of SPD and how the concepts that make up the acronym “A SECRET” are used to problem solve solutions. The elements of A SECRET are:

·         A- Attention

·         S-Sensation

·         E-Emotional Regulation

·         C- Culture, Context or Current Conditions

·         R- Relationships

·         E- Environment

·         T- Task
Sensational Kids provides very detailed and lengthy case studies of sensational children, their family dynamics and how a child’s coping abilities are reflective of his or her specific neurological make-up. Case-studies include:

·         a typically developing first-grader

·         an over-responsive kindergartner

·         an under-responsive second grader

·         a sensory-seeking preschooler

·         a dyspraxic third- grader
Readers of Sensational Kids learn about basic intervention techniques, special education laws that impact services, the prevalence of SPD and co-existing conditions such as attention deficit disorder or autism and what the future holds for these children.

Now No Longer A SECRET delves further into problem-solving a child’s emotional, social and sensorimotor challenges by carefully differentiating the subtypes of SPD in order to individualize treatment and avoid cookie cutter “sensory diets”. Short case-studies are used to illustrate a child’s challenged area and then a chart is created with each element of “A SECRET” filled in. For example, one child who had melt downs during soccer games was supported in the areas of
·         Attention- by giving him the job of calling out sports moves

·         Sensation by jumping, wrestling, jumping or doing heavy work before sports

·         Emotional regulation –by listening to positive, uplifting music on the way to the game

·         Culture- being picked up early from school to do some self-esteem boosting before the soccer games.

·         Relationships-parents positive attitude influenced how he felt

·         Environment- visual cues used to help him better judge where he was on field

·         Task- play with smaller group of players
Parents might find the information in this book overwhelming, but I think that it will be worthwhile to plug along and reread the sections that pertain to their child. Then share strategy ideas with the occupational therapist (who will hopefully, also read this book).

This is a great read also for experienced therapists. There are descriptions of many simple, low cost, easy to implement adaptations that are variations of what OT’s typically have in their bag of tricks. For example, sitting on a readily available folded sweater can be used instead of a cushion and a pen cap might be an ideal fidget tool because it doesn’t have any distracting moving parts (….not to mention it looks “normal”).  
After writing this lengthy book review, I hope that it is no secret that I highly recommend No Longer A SECRET. Parents, teachers and therapists will find this an important resource when planning strategies for children challenged by sensory processing disorders.  

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