Books: The Sensory Child Gets Organized by Carolyn Dalgliesh

Like many bright kids, my son has difficulty organizing himself. His brain is going a mile a minute and in one hundred different directions, so sometimes even the simplest things fall through the cracks. The psychologist who tested him told us that many such kids find easy things difficult because they are more interested in and focused on complex thoughts and ideas. For example, when she asked him easy questions, my son's mind would wander, and he'd often be unable to answer. It was only when the questions were sufficiently challenging to keep him interested that he became engaged—and answered all of them correctly.

Carolyn Dalgliesh's book is for parents of kids who are similarly bright, or who for whatever reasons have trouble navigating the everyday tasks so many of us take for granted. Some kids are distracted, some require routine, some have anxiety issues . . . Whatever the case, The Sensory Child Gets Organized helps parents set their kids up for success rather than failure.

The book begins with the necessary explanations and terminology: "What is a sensory child and how do you know if you have one?" and "How to figure out how your child learns best." Then the book moves into looking at ways to help your child get organized at home and how to help him or her negotiate the world at large.

I'll give you an example of how this book helped me with my son. He's bright, as I've mentioned, and therefore easily distracted. So whenever I give him verbal instructions, he almost immediately forgets them. This is because the instructions are almost too simple, and his brain immediately wanders off to think about other things. (Is there anything more frustrating than telling your child to go put his shoes on, only to have him wander back in a minute later without shoes, but wanting to know something about isotopes? This is a regular occurrence in our home.) So what I've learned is: My son is not a audial learner. He needs something visual to reference. Per Dalgliesh's suggestion, we've developed a printed, color-coded schedule. Now my son knows where to be and when, right down to the ten minutes before school when he should be gathering his homework and putting on his shoes. And so far it's working much better than my yelling at him four times every morning!

Every child is different, of course, and their needs will be different as well. But Dalgliesh has any number of ideas and recommendations that parents might pick and choose from, thus putting together a workable solution for their children. For instance, next I might try breaking down chores into charts with pictures. Though many of us do things like put laundry away without giving it much thought, some kids (like mine) benefit from more discreet instructions such as those Dalgliesh gives on pages 133 and 135.

The goal is to position sensory kids for success rather than failure, and to make everyone's lives a little less frustrating. It's not one-size-fits-all (and doesn't pretend to be), but there are enough options on offer in The Sensory Child Gets Organized that it's a good place to start putting together a plan of action.

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