When I read a book intending to write a review afterwards, I jot down page numbers and interesting points to reread before writing. When I finished reading Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses: The Sensory Avoider’s Survival Guide by John Taylor, PhD my notes stopped after the first chapter. Why? Like being free in a candy room, I could not choose because all was important, informative and immediately beneficial to families coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). This amazing book is for kids, tweens, or teens who are sensory avoiders and their parents or other caregivers.
The appeal of Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses starts at first sight as your eyes are drawn to the delightful illustrations by Lynda Farrington Wilson. The choice of pastel coloured paper throughout the book, pleasing font and darker, attention grabbing green stars with call-to-action quotes will surely engage your young sensory avoider for whom this book was intended. A six page glossary will help his comprehension, and the similarities in the format of each chapter will make each chapter easy to follow and user friendly. Your child will always learn something new in the first part of each chapter: “Did You Know?” And be motivated to action by the last part of each chapter: “Do It!”
From cover to cover, this “read about your own problems” self-help guide, reassures kids that their overreactions to senses is not because they are weird, lazy or stupid but because something is really wrong in how their brain handles the messages it receives from their sense organs. The encouraging part is how Dr. Taylor introduces each sense with a little quiz, to find out whether the child is overrecting to that sense and then follows with a list of very doable activities that promise to reduce or maybe even totally stop the overreacting!
Detailed, simple instructions written for preadolescent children make this book easy to use. Dr. Taylor has three easy steps the sensory avoider should follow:
Step 1: Do your activities every day.
Step 2: Report any changes to the adults who are helping you.
Step 3: Give your brain what it needs—nutrition, sleep and protection from stress chemicals and outside chemicals.
All the activities at the end of each chapter called TRAIN YOUR BRAIN are from five activity types and I wrote an example of each.
1. A do-it-yourself activity. (Stroke a furry pet)
2. A partner activity. (Guess what is drawn on your skin)
3. A sitting or lying down activity. (Partner rolls ball over your body)
4. Help for your brain or body. (Eating the correct foods)
5. Meeting a need of your senses. ( Changing a light that is too bright)
Chapters 3 to 7 deal with “How to Have Fun with the sense of touch, movement (proprioception, kinesthesis and balance), hearing, vision, tastes and smells. Chapters 8, 9, and 10 are exactly what every parent would wish their child to know and be encouraged to practice:
- Eat the Right Foods
- Get Good Sleep
- Take Good Care of Yourself
After reading about the five nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, water and natural fats and oil, your child will read about the importance of 9 to 10 hours of sleep and learn about avoiding outside chemicals and how to keep their stress level low.
I applaud the use of those eye catching, green stars trimmed in bright orange that grace many pages with quotes that recap or emphasize the content. I can see many readers skimming through the book not being able to resist reading them again. For example these are four quotes in those stars about stress:
- “Whenever you overreact to your senses, you are feeling stress.”
- “The more stresses you have to cope with, the more likely you are to overreact to your senses.”
- “You always have a choice. You can choose to have fear about it, or you can have caution, instead.”
- “If you choose caution, you will realize that you can help control what happens and that you’re not trapped after all.”
Seldom have I seen such a comprehensive section on Resources. There are eight pages with great books listed by topics in the same order as they occur in Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses.
Author, John F. Taylor, Ph.D., is a clinical family psychologist with more than 30 years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Taylor is an innovator of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for at-risk teens, children, and families and recognized authority on ADD. He skilfully prompts the reader (child) to include parents, occupational therapist and teachers as important contributors to the overall treatment strategy and has a special message to each.
In his message to teachers, Dr. Taylor says that a child’s number-one defence against stress is healthy self-esteem. Reading and following up on the numerous suggestions will surely put sensory avoiders on the right track to achieve this. Dr. Taylor truly achieved his purpose : “ My intention is that this book will become the handiest tool you’ve ever had for working with sensory avoiders.”
Title: Learn to Have Fun with Your Senses: The Sensory Avoider’s Survival Guide
Author: John Taylor, PhD, with illustrations by Lynda Farrington Wilson
Length: 110 pages
Genre: Nonfiction, Special Needs Resource
Reading level: grades 3 and up.
Publisher/Date:Sensory World/Future Horizons, 2011
Read Special Needs Book Review’s complete review of this book here
Buy Book: Buy the book from Sensory World/Future Horizons and get 15% off PLUS free delivery in continental USA! Add the coupon code KIDCOMPANIONS when you checkout of the store for discounts!
See Also Special Needs Book Review post: Issue Tissue Featuring Ricky Sticky – A Children’s Book About Overcoming Tactile Sensitivity by Maya Wolf, MBA, OTR/L, and Mara Schwartz, BA.