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Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

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Imagine, for a moment, that you are a parent of a child with no visible disability, but whose experiences of everyday life present constant challenges. What may be typical activities for most people-eating, dressing, making friends, taking a spelling test, responding to a hug-are a struggle, often resulting in social, emotional, and academic problems. This is the bewilder Imagine, for a moment, that you are a parent of a child with no visible disability, but whose experiences of everyday life present constant challenges. What may be typical activities for most people-eating, dressing, making friends, taking a spelling test, responding to a hug-are a struggle, often resulting in social, emotional, and academic problems. This is the bewildering and largely uncharted world of Sensory Processing Disorder-a complex brain disorder affecting one in twenty children. These children experience sensations- taste, touch, sound, sight, smell, movement and body awareness-vastly differently from other children their ages.They may feel attacked by the slightest touch, fail to register bumps and bruises, or be unable to figure out where they are in space without constantly touching others. While SPD is more widely recognized than it once was, parents of these sensational children have been searching for ways to help their children navigate in the world. Dr. Lucy Miller, the best-known SPD researcher in the world, is that voice: warm, clear, and upbeat, Dr. Miller identifies the disorder and its four major subtypes, provides insight into assessment and diagnosis, and suggests treatment options and strategies, including the importance of occupational therapy and parental involvement. Portraits of five children illustrate the different ways in which SPD may manifest itself as well as how families cope, while offering hope and advice to parents on how to be the best possible advocates for their children. Comprehensive and compassionate, "Sensational Children" is the book no parent, teacher, or caregiver of children with SPD should be without.


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Imagine, for a moment, that you are a parent of a child with no visible disability, but whose experiences of everyday life present constant challenges. What may be typical activities for most people-eating, dressing, making friends, taking a spelling test, responding to a hug-are a struggle, often resulting in social, emotional, and academic problems. This is the bewilder Imagine, for a moment, that you are a parent of a child with no visible disability, but whose experiences of everyday life present constant challenges. What may be typical activities for most people-eating, dressing, making friends, taking a spelling test, responding to a hug-are a struggle, often resulting in social, emotional, and academic problems. This is the bewildering and largely uncharted world of Sensory Processing Disorder-a complex brain disorder affecting one in twenty children. These children experience sensations- taste, touch, sound, sight, smell, movement and body awareness-vastly differently from other children their ages.They may feel attacked by the slightest touch, fail to register bumps and bruises, or be unable to figure out where they are in space without constantly touching others. While SPD is more widely recognized than it once was, parents of these sensational children have been searching for ways to help their children navigate in the world. Dr. Lucy Miller, the best-known SPD researcher in the world, is that voice: warm, clear, and upbeat, Dr. Miller identifies the disorder and its four major subtypes, provides insight into assessment and diagnosis, and suggests treatment options and strategies, including the importance of occupational therapy and parental involvement. Portraits of five children illustrate the different ways in which SPD may manifest itself as well as how families cope, while offering hope and advice to parents on how to be the best possible advocates for their children. Comprehensive and compassionate, "Sensational Children" is the book no parent, teacher, or caregiver of children with SPD should be without.

30 review for Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This was an excellent book about Sensory Processing Disorders in children. It is very readable and accessible and provides great insight and descriptions. The "case study" chapters of the individual children were especially enlightening. If, as this book suggests, 5 to 14 percent of all children have some form of a Sensory Processing Disorder, I think that this book (or other information on the Disorder) should be mandatory reading for all of those involved in the educational system. I believe t This was an excellent book about Sensory Processing Disorders in children. It is very readable and accessible and provides great insight and descriptions. The "case study" chapters of the individual children were especially enlightening. If, as this book suggests, 5 to 14 percent of all children have some form of a Sensory Processing Disorder, I think that this book (or other information on the Disorder) should be mandatory reading for all of those involved in the educational system. I believe that it would make a huge difference in our schools if teachers were aware of the difficulties that so many children face in association with their sensory system, and were equipped with quick ways to aid these children in the classroom, thus facilitating their educational success. I hope that my having read this book has made me more aware and will make me a better parent.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    This book provides a wealth of information about sensory processing disorder in an easy to understand way. I found it easier to understand than "The Out of Synch Child", however, I haven't read that cover to cover yet. Its amazing that a glitch with one (or more) of the senses can result in behaviors that you wouldn't expect to be related. For example, a problem with the vestibular system not only affects a child's balance but also may cause the child to be inattentive, impulsive, disorganized, This book provides a wealth of information about sensory processing disorder in an easy to understand way. I found it easier to understand than "The Out of Synch Child", however, I haven't read that cover to cover yet. Its amazing that a glitch with one (or more) of the senses can result in behaviors that you wouldn't expect to be related. For example, a problem with the vestibular system not only affects a child's balance but also may cause the child to be inattentive, impulsive, disorganized, and have poor fine motor skills. This book was eye-opening for me and finally gave me the answers I was looking for!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Suzy

    This book gives an in-depth look at all the variations of sensory processing disorder and presents ideas to help children with the disorder live joyfully and peacefully. It also is the only book on the subject that I've read to explain the current research in detail; the studies are new, but they are promising, in terms of finding causes and treatment. The book also includes an excellent resources section, with support web sites, on-line sources for sensory materials, and other books on the subj This book gives an in-depth look at all the variations of sensory processing disorder and presents ideas to help children with the disorder live joyfully and peacefully. It also is the only book on the subject that I've read to explain the current research in detail; the studies are new, but they are promising, in terms of finding causes and treatment. The book also includes an excellent resources section, with support web sites, on-line sources for sensory materials, and other books on the subject.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kymberlie

    Many books about sensory integration dysfunction or sensory processing disorder tell you which activities are helpful for various sensory stresses. This book helps the parent understand what might be the trigger in order to help the child understand what is affecting them and then which activities to use. I found this very helpful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Great info for parents and teachers... An absolute must-read for pedi OTs. Loved it from start to finish and will be coming back to the chapter on treatment and strategies many times as I try to incorporate these ideas into my own treatment!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt LeFevers

    I found this book both compelling and frustrating. The author writes with winsome confidence and clear passion for her subject matter, and is plainly an expert. But the first third of the book reads a bit like a commercial for her center in Denver — good news for you, if you live in Denver, I guess — and the last few chapters are an impassioned defense of the relevance of occupational therapists, something I did not know was in question. Other, similar screeds permeate the book — that autism and I found this book both compelling and frustrating. The author writes with winsome confidence and clear passion for her subject matter, and is plainly an expert. But the first third of the book reads a bit like a commercial for her center in Denver — good news for you, if you live in Denver, I guess — and the last few chapters are an impassioned defense of the relevance of occupational therapists, something I did not know was in question. Other, similar screeds permeate the book — that autism and SPD are not the same, that SPD should have made it into the DSM-V manual, that it’s a scientifically verifiable disorder backed by valid studies. I understand that these soapboxes are close to the author’s heart but I’m a parent, not a DSM contributor, and can’t help feeling these niche arguments are not intended for me. So what did I get out of the book, as a parent who just wanted to know if this is what my child has? A couple of illuminating case studies, and an overview of the subtypes that greatly helped me narrow down which one is of relevance to my situation. A handful of home therapy ideas. Not a whole lot else. The main crux of the book seems to be that 1) SPD is real, which, fine, as a person who spent money on a book about it, I probably didn’t need to be harangued about that. I’m already on board. And 2) that expert diagnosis, trained OTs, and professional support are the only things that can really help with this disorder. It’s good advice, and if that’s the scientific truth of it then it’d be disingenuous to say otherwise. But I can’t help feeling like this book was mostly a commercial for something else; as if I bought a book that spent 375 pages telling me to stop reading books and go to a clinic. I’ll take what nuggets I gleaned here and otherwise try the follow that advice and seek help elsewhere.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tabby

    This is hardly a book I would have picked up casually. My oldest son struggles with sensory processing disorder and it's heartbreaking to watch him struggle everyday. Things that seem so easy or normal overwhelm him and it's hard to predict what will cause him to melt down. Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller helped make some sense of what is going on in my sons brain and ways I can help him adjust. It also helped me feel not so alone. The title is true, there is hope and help out there. I will This is hardly a book I would have picked up casually. My oldest son struggles with sensory processing disorder and it's heartbreaking to watch him struggle everyday. Things that seem so easy or normal overwhelm him and it's hard to predict what will cause him to melt down. Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane Miller helped make some sense of what is going on in my sons brain and ways I can help him adjust. It also helped me feel not so alone. The title is true, there is hope and help out there. I will say there are times the book gets rather scientific and a bit over my head, clearly some parts are aimed more at experts working with children with sensory processing disorder. But there is a lot of good information in this book for parents, too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This, is Life-Changing! Have you ever heard of SPD? I hadn’t. Until someone I know told me about it. Do you know anyone who can’t stand Tags in their clothes? Maybe you’ve met someone who couldn’t stand (or tolerate) Loud Noises, (think- thunder, lightning, sirens, even music). I believe we ALL know someone with varying forms of SPD, or Sensory Processing Disorder. If we are adults, then we have somehow managed to navigate life, but our families may have thought or believed us to be ‘high mainten This, is Life-Changing! Have you ever heard of SPD? I hadn’t. Until someone I know told me about it. Do you know anyone who can’t stand Tags in their clothes? Maybe you’ve met someone who couldn’t stand (or tolerate) Loud Noises, (think- thunder, lightning, sirens, even music). I believe we ALL know someone with varying forms of SPD, or Sensory Processing Disorder. If we are adults, then we have somehow managed to navigate life, but our families may have thought or believed us to be ‘high maintenance’ or maybe just ‘weird’. Well, this is the book to give you details: please, it’s not a novel. This deals with Real Life. It may not be an ‘easy read’, but, I believe it is an ‘Essential Read’.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I clearly took a long time to get through this. It was read in spurts, many of them while sitting in the hall at OT appointments. The day- in - the - life chapters were slow going, if informative for the types of SPD my own child doesn't have. The chapters on the research, correlations, treatment outcomes were more engaging to me. Overall I would put this with Out of Sync Child on the must read list for any parent who knows or suspects their child has SPD. I clearly took a long time to get through this. It was read in spurts, many of them while sitting in the hall at OT appointments. The day- in - the - life chapters were slow going, if informative for the types of SPD my own child doesn't have. The chapters on the research, correlations, treatment outcomes were more engaging to me. Overall I would put this with Out of Sync Child on the must read list for any parent who knows or suspects their child has SPD.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Ogle

    Excellent explanation of and strategies for families of kids with Sensory Process Disorder. A child near and dear to me can whirl like a dervish without getting or dizzy, yet is afraid to go shopping because so much input is overwhelming. This book will help parents and teachers of kids who constantly struggle in ways we can only imagine.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jaq

    I can't begin to express how glad I am to have read this book. Having these concrete strategies on hand to address my SPD kiddo's needs and challenges is unspeakably useful, but even better is having the confidence to be able to identify the personal goals toward which we'd like to work as a family, and to be able to employ those strategies with the help of our OT to achieve them. I can't begin to express how glad I am to have read this book. Having these concrete strategies on hand to address my SPD kiddo's needs and challenges is unspeakably useful, but even better is having the confidence to be able to identify the personal goals toward which we'd like to work as a family, and to be able to employ those strategies with the help of our OT to achieve them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Julia Southwick

    This book was definitely helpful, but I still feel like I have lots of questions. It’s hard living in a small community with few resources. Parenting a child with SPD is admittedly exhausting, so I’ll just keep looking for solutions and ideas! It was definitely a helpful resource though.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Dudak

    Another really great resource for parents navigating children with SPD. It's an event blend of anecdotes, practical advice, and the science behind the disorder. We'll be going back to this one frequently as we navigate the unknown waters. Another really great resource for parents navigating children with SPD. It's an event blend of anecdotes, practical advice, and the science behind the disorder. We'll be going back to this one frequently as we navigate the unknown waters.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Very well written and a great introduction into the sensory needs of children. I like how the author weaves practical advice into storytelling about children with different sensory processing disorders.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth McLeod

    Good primer on SPD. Plugs her program but not too aggressively

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    This book was so helpful. It aided me in figuring out the needs of my child and seeking out the therapy she needed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Best book I’ve found with info on recognizing, understanding and supporting sensory-seeking behavior (as opposed to sensory defensive).

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cara Fuller Engelbrecht

    A book I will continue to reference many times!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Miller

    Helpful explanation of SPD and its impact on childhood occupations. As an outpatient pediatric OT, this will be a resource I frequently recommend. Miller writes for the professional and the parent!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    "Sensational Kids" is a groundbreaking book about Sensory Processing Disorder, and I would recommend it to any parent who is concerned about developmental delays. The author, Lucy Jane Miller, is an occupational therapist, director of Sensory Therapies And Research (STAR) Center in Denver, and the world's best-known SPD researcher. She wrote a book that not only explains the different types and subtypes of SPD but also relates examples from families with kids who have the disorder and scenarios "Sensational Kids" is a groundbreaking book about Sensory Processing Disorder, and I would recommend it to any parent who is concerned about developmental delays. The author, Lucy Jane Miller, is an occupational therapist, director of Sensory Therapies And Research (STAR) Center in Denver, and the world's best-known SPD researcher. She wrote a book that not only explains the different types and subtypes of SPD but also relates examples from families with kids who have the disorder and scenarios she has created to help the reader understand what it is like to live with SPD compared to typically developing children. I can see why parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorder have a copy of this book since she wrote reassuring messages such as "when it comes to your child, you are an expert!" She wrote of the relief parents felt who got little support from pediatricians or other doctors who are not familiar with SPD when they finally met with her and received validation for their concerns. Miller wrote that many people have some kind of sensory issue, such as not liking the tags in their clothes, but these kids have sensitivities that cause disruption in everyday life. I remember hearing a similar message from an occupational therapist who visited my home to work with Nathan when he was three years old. I thought that something was going on with Nathan, but I couldn't put my finger on it. In some ways he seemed to share sensitivities to kids on the autism spectrum, but the older he got, the more it became pretty apparent to me that he did not have autism. He definitely did have language delays and sensory issues, though, and I believe he did have SPD but I didn't know it. The book talks about how sensory seekers have a very difficult time with transitions, and that was one of Nathan's most difficult daily routines. It was made more difficult because he didn't speak much as a toddler. He definitely sought out excitement and the opportunity to move, but he also showed signs of being over-responsive. He covered his ears from the sounds of engines and motorcycles or dirt bikes, and he could not stand to sit in the movie theater because of the loudness. He could not stand getting his hair cut and acted like the clippers were physically hurting his scalp; I felt like we tormented him whenever we gave him a haircut. He made loud sounds even though he couldn't stand noise from other sources, so we even had his hearing tested, but there were no issues there. It is nice to know that there really is something going on with these kids who are hypersensitive to their environment; it's not a behavioral issue or a made-up idea but rather an actual disorder that can be improved with therapy and time. I am glad that a lot of the therapy they do for these kids looks like play. That is definitely what my son would have liked as a toddler who was a sensory seeker and even now too. I liked learning about how doing "heavy work" such as carrying books and lifting things can help give these kids deep pressure that can calm them down (kids who used to grow up on farms would get this work naturally every day). I also liked reading about how the parents used a SECRET to make life easier for their kids. I would have liked to read about more activities to do with the kids for therapy, but Miller lists books like that in Appendix A under "Books: Activity Guides." I may check out "101 Activities for Kids in Tight Spaces." It is pretty incredible that one in twenty children have symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder. I really hope awareness increases so more parents can seek treatment to help their kids with these issues and so that more research is funded to help future generations even more. I have seen big improvements in my son from working with him on his aversion to food textures and his fine motor skills in writing and his sensitivities to sound and touch. It is nice to know there are other families in similar circumstances and that others are aware of these sensational kids' needs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Barak

    I am sure this book have helped many people to feel that they can now, after reading it, cope better with their child's problems. As good as this feeling may be for a parent, unless the diagnosis is a correct one, I am not convinced this is always helpful for the child in question, and sometimes may even be harmful. So what is my point in all this? why do I have a semi-row with this book? One issue I have is that the book gives one name, or rather a single label, i.e. SPD, to a range of behaviours I am sure this book have helped many people to feel that they can now, after reading it, cope better with their child's problems. As good as this feeling may be for a parent, unless the diagnosis is a correct one, I am not convinced this is always helpful for the child in question, and sometimes may even be harmful. So what is my point in all this? why do I have a semi-row with this book? One issue I have is that the book gives one name, or rather a single label, i.e. SPD, to a range of behaviours, all stemming from difficulties in sensory processing and integration. Some of the children's behaviours described in the book are in fact at opposite poles, though all falling under the same disorder. Not only that, it would appear that some experts in this field hold the view that a single child can suffer from several of these different sub-labels (e.g. hyper and under sensitivity) at different times. Needless to say I find the latter to be outrageous, let alone the fact that by aggregating opposites under an identical umbrella the chance of providing a coherent treatment is becoming essentially non-existent. A better approach in my view is searching for a way to treat specific behaviours, rather than finding a one-fit-all label; otherwise, we may treat the child using the wrong tools and techniques, which will not be immediately apparent as it is very hard to judge success or failure when the passing of time is an essential factor in any such treatment. Another risk I see with not tackling this on a piecemeal case-by-case basis is that with having an impressive catch-all one will be prone to miss other, separate problems that may not be as physical in their nature. Admittedly, giving a child psychological tests is not an easy, full-proof task that can provide us with scientifically accurate assessments; not being in this profession myself, I have no real insights into how to remedy this. On a personal note, I was given the task of reading this book by my wife in the hope of inspiring me to show more empathy towards our daughter's difficulties and with that to provide more emotional support for her Herculean efforts (my wife's that is) to alleviate it. I have to say in this respect that I do find both the book and my wife's intentions to be commendable and pause-giving. I did find points and cases in the book that can explain to this or that extent some of my daughter's meltdowns and quirks. However, despite disappointing my wife in not being able to be sufficiently supportive of all of her efforts, being of an autonomous mind and as concerned about seeing our daughter becoming a happy and successful member of society I must insist on expressing the flaws I see in this approach and hope that in due time we could find complementary tools for some of the problems which do not lend themselves in my opinion as well to the case studies described in the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    This book is a must read for any parent, educator, daycare provider or person that works with children! My son has Sensory Processing Disorder and PDD-NOS (high functioning Autism)... this was the first book that laid everying out in everyday terms and helps the reader to understand what our "sensational kids" are going through on a daily basis. I have given it as a gift at the beginning of the year to Ethan's teachers and plan to do so every year. You should check it out! This book is a must read for any parent, educator, daycare provider or person that works with children! My son has Sensory Processing Disorder and PDD-NOS (high functioning Autism)... this was the first book that laid everying out in everyday terms and helps the reader to understand what our "sensational kids" are going through on a daily basis. I have given it as a gift at the beginning of the year to Ethan's teachers and plan to do so every year. You should check it out!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This provides a great explanation of the various types of sensory processing disorders. It is helping me to understand my child and providing guidance. Dr. Miller explains this disorder in layman's terms by using case studies. The book is easy to read. This book is a fantastic read for parents who think there may be something usual about their children, but there is no readily available explanation. This provides a great explanation of the various types of sensory processing disorders. It is helping me to understand my child and providing guidance. Dr. Miller explains this disorder in layman's terms by using case studies. The book is easy to read. This book is a fantastic read for parents who think there may be something usual about their children, but there is no readily available explanation.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Excellent book about Sensory Processing Disorder. Lucy Jane Miller is the leading research expert on SPD. I highly recommend this book for parents and educators. I wish all educators would read this book, and other books about SPD, before writing off any student who is struggling. My son has dyspraxia/dyslexia and he is gifted. SPD presents many challenges, but there is definitely hope for these kids, and for their families!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Holly Isaacson

    This is a really great book for explaining Sensory Processing Disorder. It goes into the different types of SPD. And describes a day-in-the-life of a typically developing child and also kids with the different types of SPD. Very informative and interesting for parents dealing with kids with sensory sensitivities.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I remember finishing this in one night, skimming to find the useful bits. Unlike other books I read in order to learn about my child's disorder, this one had a lot of fluff and not much more. Check it out from the library before buying. I might have just learned enougth by the time I found this one that it just didn't offer anything new that stood out. I remember finishing this in one night, skimming to find the useful bits. Unlike other books I read in order to learn about my child's disorder, this one had a lot of fluff and not much more. Check it out from the library before buying. I might have just learned enougth by the time I found this one that it just didn't offer anything new that stood out.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Of the three books I've read on sensory processing disorders, this is, hands down, the best. It presents the information in a very easy-to-understand format. By presenting case studies of the different issues, it also gives examples of coping methods to help the kids, although I do wish it would spend more time specifically on that topic. Overall, a must-read! Of the three books I've read on sensory processing disorders, this is, hands down, the best. It presents the information in a very easy-to-understand format. By presenting case studies of the different issues, it also gives examples of coping methods to help the kids, although I do wish it would spend more time specifically on that topic. Overall, a must-read!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    While more research has been done since this title was printed in 2006, the book offers an excellent overview of variations of sensory processing disorder. One unique aspect of the book is case studies that take the reader through the day of a child based upon how they manifest their sensory processing issues. Various appendices contain additional resources.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This book is the best most comprehensive one I have read on the topic to date. It is primarily helpful to those in the early stages of diagnoses and researching what it all means and what is happening in a child with a processing disorder. But if you are past that stage and looking for treatment plans, other books cover that topic more thoroughly.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Renelle Pinos

    Still reading this... The chapters that analyze how different kids with sensory issues go through life is great. It has strategies how to help SENSATIONAL kids thrive... On a side note, I'm guilty of diagnosing self, friends, and coworkers to varying degrees... and using the strategies to better understand how our brains work. Very cool. Still reading this... The chapters that analyze how different kids with sensory issues go through life is great. It has strategies how to help SENSATIONAL kids thrive... On a side note, I'm guilty of diagnosing self, friends, and coworkers to varying degrees... and using the strategies to better understand how our brains work. Very cool.

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