Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review: Understanding Your Child's Sensory Signals

Understanding Your Child's Sensory Signals: A Practical Daily Use Handbook for Parents and Teachers by Angie Voss

I bought this book for Lori for Christmas off her wish list. It's part of the Amazon Matchbook so I was able to download it for the Kindle as well for free, that was kinda nice.

This is a pretty dense book that covers a lot of the behaviors you'll see in children (and adults) with Sensory Issues. For each, there's some information about why a particular issue or behavior and then some suggestions on ways to accommodate, address, divert or support a particular behavior. Sometimes the behavior is an emerging skill you want to encourage but other times, it's a behavior you want to curb. In some cases, the behavior may be embarrassing to you, but it's part of who they are and the author says to let them have it, and I really appreciated that.

I'm not sure the best way to use this book - possibly a reference guide for looking up specific behaviors or traits. Since I had it on the Kindle, I just read it through from cover-to-cover. Occasionally the author uses a term that seems specific to her. I don't want to say "invented" but it's not a common term. I found this out when I went to research it on Google and the top links were to her website. In some ways, I was surprised she didn't mention her website more, but that's probably better than the flipside of aggressively hawking you website. (If this were re-printed, I'd probably recommend adding the URL to the footer where it's unobtrusive, but handily standing by.)

I also discovered reading through it that a lot of the tactics are similar. I don't think that's a bad thing, but it's interesting to note. Also, not all are appropriate for all children. For some, your child will need to be verbal or understand the objectives. She describes one called "bubble mountain" which involves blowing into a pan of soapy water with a straw. Our child would probably try to drink the water. He hasn't mastered the straw, but he sees his sister using a straw to drink, so his first inclination would be to try to draw up the water, rather than blow slowly in the attempt to create an ever-growing mountain of bubbles.

One thing that really struck me was that she says you shouldn't do hand-over-hand that it isn't helpful and is possibly harmful but I didn't think her explanation was satisfying. Same with tickling - she was very much against it. But for us, it's something he enjoys and also the safest and most consistent way of distracting him when he's being angry and lashing out at us.

There was also a behavior or two we've seen in our child that was never addressed in the book. I would expect it's common (but rarely discussed amongst parents) but it never came up in this book.

All-in-all, it was a helpful look at all the different types of sensory issues our kiddos deal with and how lucky we are that our child is so willing to engage us and how there's so many typical sensory issues that our child doesn't suffer from. Also, it explained some quirks my wife and I wouldn't have otherwise noticed about ourselves and definitely some traits our daughter exhibits that we would have never guessed were sensory issues otherwise. It's probably a handy little guide to get and hang on to if you parent or teach or work with someone who has sensory issues.

Understanding Your Child's Sensory Signals: A Practical Daily Use Handbook for Parents and Teachers (
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