Book Reviews: Parenting, Sensory, Quirky, etc. / by Laura Kett

I frequently purge my work bookshelves full of work related titles and some of the same books always make the cut and stay put.  These are books I tend to lend out, skim through occasionally, or use as a reference.  Here are 10 of my favorites:

Living Sensationally:  Understanding Your Senses by Winnie Dunn.  Dunn is one of the gurus whom OTs defer to in the world of sensory processing.  In this book she is speaking to adults, helping them to identify their sensory preferences.  Once you have identified the preferences, she helps you explore how these could be affecting your relationships, comfort level and overall interactions in your daily life.  From a sensory perspective, this awareness can help you better understand other adults in your lives as well as your children.  I often recommend it to parents of children with sensory issues and then they start saying things like:  “oh, I have that, too” or “ah, that’s why that bugs me!”

The Myth of the ADD Child:  50 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels or Coercion by Armstrong.  If you can ignore the controversial title, you will find some classically great ideas in this book.  Armstrong does agree that there exists a profile of behaviors which could receive the ADD label, and he states that some people could benefit from meds.  What he promotes, however, are a host of ideas for working on attention which should also be considered such as diet changes, therapy, music, energy channeling activities, and so on.  It’s a 1997 book and since that year there have been a plethora of books and workshops developed on attention and executive function skills (which include organization and emotions and focus).  The strategies in this book are still relevant.  Finding what works for each individual is hard work.  No gimmicks, no magic – but these ideas are worth considering.

Quirky Kids:  Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn’t Fit In – When to Worry and When Not to Worry by Klass and Costello.  These authors summarize their approach in the title of this book and go on to entitle Part I:  A World Full of Quirky Kids.  They describe behaviors of the kids who “march to the beat of a different drummer” and “quirky” is so much better than the label “weird,” right?!  I love this book, maybe because I am a little quirky.  Maybe because I bristle at the idea that all kids need to “fit in or get a label and be fixed.”   However, I have received hundreds of referrals from parents who are concerned that their child does not “fit in,” or that something is “off,” and that needs to be addressed. Testing may be inconclusive or not really giving the full picture of who your child is.  The emphasis then should be to look at your child as a unique individual possessing many strengths and preferences.  You can devise strategies to meet with challenges and develop modifications in their setting (or choose a new setting altogether).  You may want to consult a professional to give you guidance.  Quirks are not a problem until they interfere with relationships and daily activities.  The goal is not to get rid of the quirks!

Helping the Child Who Doesn’t Fit In by Nowicki and Duke.  This is old – 1992 – but still so good.  Can you tell where my heart is?  This book is a guide for professionals and parents to help children who have experienced rejection.  The portions I used are on personal space, body language (hands on the hips means…) and facial expressions (being aware of yours and learning to read others).  However, I would recommend one of the many user friendly books now available on teaching your children social skills (e.g. Social Rules for Kids by Diamond 2011).  Look for a book with good photos.  A photo is worth a thousand words!