Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Post about Sensory Integration Dysfunction That Won't Make You Cry


For the three of you regularly reading this blog, you've probably not had any occasion to read anything about sensory integration dysfunction (or sensory processing disorder), so you've probably shed no tears over SID-related posts.  But out there somewhere is a parent roaming the internets looking for something, anything, about SID, hopefully something from a parent's pov, hopefully something that doesn't make you want to roll up in a ball of despair.  This post is for you.

On the latest episode of NBC's Parenthood, Adam and Kristina, parents of Max, a little boy who has Asperger's, struggle with the question of when to tell their son about Asperger's.  Though many people quibble with the show's portrayal of Asperger's (some say the child actor gets the mannerisms all wrong, some say the writers are treating Asperger's like a death sentence), what I've been enjoying is watching the parents navigate their way through all the therapies and information and advice, trying desperately to make the right decision, trying to hold on to the knowledge that, above all else, Max is a really great kid.

Cate is only four so there's a lot of stuff about sensory integration dysfunction she just won't get (like needing a lot more proprioceptive sensory input than other four year olds in order keep her nervous system modulated enough to do seemingly simple tasks like get getting dressed in the morning).  But I still think about how much to tell her, what information does she need.  Since she's already a fluent reader, I went in search of a kid's book about SID and found Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears?: Dealing With Sensory Overload.  From the hiding under the table, to the hitting of other kids, to the feeling crazed up, to the love of being beneath a really heavy blanket--this book was all about Cate.  And her little face as she read aloud about Izzy to her sister--it was the face of recognition, of  "Wow.  That's exactly what it's like inside my body."  This book does an excellent job of narrating the experience of someone trying to navigate SID, of explaining the difference without pathologizing or exoticizing it.

If, like me, you're looking for a childern's book to share with your child or with other children about SID, I can't recommend this enough.

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