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Monday, July 23, 2012

Three Books Reviews: This is Gabriel, Sensitive Sam and A-U-T-I-S-T-I-C How Silly is That !

Children’s literature has always been packed with educational and “feel good” themes with characters overcoming challenges or reaping the rewards of perseverance and clever problem- solving. I think that’s why Harry Potter is such a phenomenal hit. I view what is known as “social stories” as a literary offshoot of sorts. They are written for young children with the goal of teaching that knowledge is power, that they are not alone with their challenges and that finding solutions are just a matter of time. I have recently read three books that share these characteristics.

This is Gabriel Making Sense of School (A Book About Sensory Processing Disorder) by Hartley Steiner is exactly what the title suggests. Readers meet Gabriel as he explains that he is really good at certain things-like helping people. But Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), one of the big words he teaches readers about- gets in the way. Gabriel describes the 8 senses and what to do to feel better when they overwhelm him…..
·         Sight- Gabriel feels better when there isn’t too much to look at
·         Hearing-Gabriel likes a quiet space or wearing headphones
·         Touch-Gabriel prefers soft clothes and squeezing an object like clay
·         Taste-Gabriel likes to chew on gum, a straw or water bottle
·         Smell- Gabriel feels better when others don’t wear strong-smelling perfumes
·         Vestibular- Gabriel loves spinning and needs to have lots of movement breaks
·         Proprioception- Gabriel likes a weighted lap pad and pulling a wagon  full of heavy books
·         Interoception- when all of the other sensory stuff is not so bad he is more easily able to interpret what his body is feeling- like hunger or needing to use the bathroom.
The last three terms are the "big words" that Gabriel is eager to teach because these terms are not as well known but play a big role in how he functions. Readers learn in conclusion, that by understanding the sensory systems and how to feel better Gabriel as well as other children can be  "learning sensations". Author, Hartley Steiner recommends that parents work with an occupational therapist to have an individualized sensory program designed for their child.   

Hartley Steiner writes a personal blog chronicling her life raising three boys with various diagnoses She is the author of Sensational Journeys, the founder of the  and a contributing writer for the SPD  Foundation’s blog, S.I. Focus magazine, and Autism Spectrum Quarterly. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and you can see more of  Brandon Fall’s work at

Sensitive Sam is also a story of a child with a sensory adventure that has a happy ending. Written and illustrated by Marla Roth-Fisch, this book is written from Sam’s perspective as he copes with emotional and sensory challenges. I love each page’s rhyme and rhythm that will be familiar to children brought up on Dr. Seuss. Parents can use this social story to help explain the relationship between sensory sensitivities and feelings such as
·         Being sad and mad
·         Not feeling right
·         Feeling tense from too much sitting
·         Frustration from uncomfortable clothing
·         Nausea from aversive foods and smells
·         Wanting to cry because others don’t understand
While the first part of the book presents Sam and his challenges, the second part introduces the parents who are more concerned than mad (as Sam fears because the teacher called them into school!). The teacher explains how occupational therapy will help Sam to be less bothered by his sensitivities. Sam is thrilled to meet children with similar needs in the OT office, he is given a “sensory diet’ and as Sam reports:
“Treating sensory challenges
Takes some patience, and love, too.
And now I LIKE doing lots of things
I used to hate to do!”
Author, Marla Roth-Fisch is a happily married mother of two, including a son with Sensory Processing Disorder and is an active board member at the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.  

As an occupational therapist it is a pleasure to read books that share the impact of my profession on the lives of children with sensory processing disorders. The third book I am reviewing provides a fun and different perspective.

A-U-T-I-S-T-I-C? How Silly is That!  by Lynda Farrington Wilson is a story told by a child (Tyler)  who is a brilliant person with autism. He is not
·         Brown-hairtistic
·         South-Paw-tistic
·         Aquatistic
·         Culinari-tistic
·         Loves-donuts-jelly-beans-and-ice-cream-tistic
·         Math-tistic
·         Big-foot-orthodont-istic OR
·         AUTISTIC

The beautifully illustrated message here is that labeling can negate gifts and talents and prohibit academic and social advancement.  Author Lynda Farrington Wilson hopes that her book contributes to “people first” language rather than language that objectifies a person by his or her condition (eg, “autistic”).  She is an artist and former marketing executive who advocates for children with autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Her first book- Squirmy Wormy, How I Learned to Help Myself was endorsed by Temple Grandin. More information is available at

These 3  reviewed books are published by Future Horizons. Use code “Pedia” for a 15% discount on most books or
order from Amazon........

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love love your blog! Such great ideas and book/article reviews! I'm a pediatric OT and I just recently started my own blog...please follow me!
:) Be blessed!