Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Review: This is Gabriel Making Sense of School

[Note: Comments are closed for this post.]

Today's post is my first official book review.  I'm also thrilled to be able to give away a signed copy of This is Gabriel Making Sense of School to one lucky reader!  To enter to win the book, please leave a comment at the end of this post!

Author Hartley Steiner has three quirky boys, including one with significant Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Hartley writes the blog Hartley's Life with 3 Boys, and in her spare time she leaves funny comments on my blog.  You can also follow Hartley on Twitter and Facebook.

She also wrote the book This is Gabriel Making Sense of School: A Book About Sensory Processing Disorder, which she kindly shared with me.

This was a great book for our family.  All four of our children have sensory processing issues, and my own auditory processing problems are so bad that I kind of need a 504 Plan.  My 504 Plan includes hiding in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on to block out some of the noise of my family.

Here's the thing: even though I got a free copy, this book is so great that I'm going to go ahead and buy a few more copies to give to Little Dude's school. Although it is written for kids, this book does an excellent job of explaining Sensory Processing Disorder in a very relatable way. A way that might help our school staff understand my quirky kids.

I might even buy an extra copy to smack our principal in the head with share with our principal, so that she can begin to understand why sometimes the cafeteria is a little stressful for Little Dude.  And of course by "a little stressful" I mean "painfully overwhelming."

This is Gabriel Making Sense of School explains the seven senses, with a separate page devoted to each sense.  I know, you thought there were only five, right?  There's also vestibular, which helps you balance, and proprioception, which helps you push and pull things using your joints and muscles.  The book covers how each of these senses apply in the educational setting, and gives examples of some of the very simple accommodations schools can make to help these children learn.  For example, a child who has proprioception needs might require breaks during school to do "heavy work": pulling a wagon of lunch boxes to the cafeteria, or even just helping to wipe down the tables after lunch.

The book also specifically explains how the school cafeteria can be super-overwhelming to children with SPD.  Perhaps I shall highlight this section for smacking sharing purposes at our school.

I read This is Gabriel Making Sense of School aloud to my children.    We stopped after reading each page to talk about the ways we all experience some of the same things that Gabriel experiences, and to answer questions.  I needed to explain in more detail some of the terms used in the book for my four- and six-year-olds, but my nine-year-olds got it right away.  Some of Gabriel's quirks were so immediately relateable to Little Dude (like not being able to stand tags in shirts), that he would excitedly interrupt with, "that's just like me!"

Both of my nine-year-olds asked to read the book again on their own.

I can't recommend this book highly enough for families dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder.  I think it would also be a great read for any child who feels like an outsider, who has a 504 Plan, or who simply wants to have a greater understanding of the many ways we're all differently awesome.  Little Dude was so happy and excited to read about another boy who was just like him.  When your child is a JEDI, there are not a lot of books about kids like them.  Finding one is a treasure.

40 comments:

  1. Thanks for the book review. My 3 year old was recently diagnosed with SPD and I actually glanced at this on Amazon. If I am not the winner of the copy you have I will def buy it now. My older boys could use a kid friendly book to help them understand their little brothers disorder. Thanks for the awesome review!!!

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  2. Like the above person, if I don't win this, I'll have to buy it. Seems like just what our family needs right now.

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  3. I will absolutely get a copy of this book (unless I win it of course)!!

    Although my three-year-old son has had us parental units all to himself (for now), he now has to share us and his time with a seemly revolving door of therapists, doctors, teachers, paras, and other (pre)school employees who may or may not understand his SPD and (possible) Autism. My hubby and I have barely had time to wrap our heads around his diagnoses (determined this past April) much less become overnight experts who can clearly explain these disorders to family and friends. It's been a trial by fire to say the least, but one we welcome as the better we can be, the better our little guy will be.

    And now, it seems that our challenges have only just begun as my hubby has joined the Army. We are now facing both long stretches of him being gone as well as the (dreaded) moves and other multiple transitions coming up. So many new people who have no idea what SPD is or how to "handle" a child with it. Gah!

    No matter what, Hartley Steiner's blog is going to become a regular part of my blog reading! Thank you for spotlighting this book, this author, and this disorder so prominently. :)

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  4. I would love a copy of this book-if I don't win-maybe I can get one shipped to Seoul, Korea where I am currently living. Not finding a great variety here.

    My daughter has almost out grown her SPD but still has some processing problems. I also have them (I discovered in figuring out what was up with her when she was little). It's amazing how many people I know that do. Can't wait to read it.

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  5. Thanks for the review - sounds like a great book!

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  6. This looks great! It will definitely help me with the kids that I work with every day....they all have autism with a lot of the SP stuff that tends to go along with it.
    Thank you for sharing!!!
    PS-I will be back with some reading suggestions for you because I have found some great resources :)
    Laurie

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  7. oooh, i want this book! like everyone else, if i don't win, i will buy it. then i will probably leave a copy of it in the office at the daycare because there are two people there that need to be smacked with a copy of it as well. they just don't get why my little sasquatch flips the heck out in the lunch room. it MUST be because i am a bad mother and have spoiled him and allowed him to do whatever he wants... (my eyes can NOT even begin to roll as big and hard as they need to be here.)

    please pick me! pick me, pick me, pick me!

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  8. This sounds great- I believe I will get a copy as well- it sounds like a great way to teach teachers- they just can't seem to understand the overwhelming feeling Brian must incur every single day at school..

    plus I really really love the cover art on the book!

    Thanks for sharing your review!

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  9. I'm a therapist who works with children with SPD, and would LOVE a book to donate to our local library, so parents can check it out and share it over and over again!!

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  10. I'm a special education teacher and a mom. I definitely want to check out this book--thanks for the review!

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  11. Thanks for sharing this! I am a teacher and I have several SPD kids and often have difficulty explaining thier "quirks" to my other students in a way that they can understand. This would be a great addition to my classroom library.

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  12. WOW....I'd love to read this book...or have a copy to donate to our own school or local library. There is so much that people do not understand about SPD. MAny people just think that these quirks are things we can weed out if we would parent them differently.

    I am glad LD enjoyed it and that your family found a treasure to help you all through your 'issues'. Hopefully the people at your kids school will read it and learn something!!

    Great review....thanks!

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  13. @Heather -- I'm not sure if we have any other military moms that can comment, but from what I know there's usually pretty good systems in place to help you with moves & finding new docs, etc. Depending on where you're stationed, you may even be able to find an autism support group right on post. Even if your son isn't on the spectrum, a support group might be really helpful if he has SPD and autie-like traits. Best wishes!!!

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  14. My sister teaches children from K-grade 3 with autism. I would Love to give her this book for her classroom!!

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  15. Awesome, awesome, awesome. ..thank u! I have been looking for a book that I can read to my six year old, that would explain what his two younger brothers go through.

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  16. I think it's *awesome* that the the "other two" are included, because my one kiddo has vestibular issues. He's a seeker, and likes to SPIN because it makes him "less dizzy." (Turn me around three times to pin the tail on a donkey and I'm liable to wobble off towards Canada vomiting; spin him 10 times and he can finally move in a s straight trajectory.)

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  17. I need to read this not only for one of my sons, but for myself. Maybe hubby should read, too. Might give him a little more insight into why his wife does some of the things she does.

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  18. I would love to win this book. My 5 y/o daughter was diagnosed with SPD last summer. I am always on the lookout for material to help her. Also, for ways to explain to others what SPD is and how we can all help her.

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  19. Great review! We have some of the same issues here. Would love to have a copy of this book!

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  20. Definitely a great book ~ all school libraries should have this and me! I need a copy for my son...

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  21. I have learned a lot from your blog this summer! I believe that I have some auditory processing issues and I know my daughter has issues such as the tags having to be cut out of clothing and her socks have to be just right!. She wears undershirts under absolutely everyting so that the seams of her shirt don't rub on her skin... I would love this book to be able to explain her behaviours to my hubby!

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  22. I don't have kids, and don't know much about SPD, but as soon as I read that phrase on your blog I understood what you were getting at. I'm so sorry your kids' principal is being so dense.

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  23. OMG! I have two children with SPD and my son is fascinated with Star Wars so your Jedi comment made me laugh!!

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  24. I love your idea that this book is great for every kid who feels a little different. I hope my 'kid who is a little different' gets to read the book that I hope I win!

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  25. Just ordered mine! Thanks for the tip!

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  26. This book sounds awesome! I definitely need to check this out!

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  27. I think everything else aside, it is awesome that somebody has classified vestibular and proprioception as actual senses!

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  28. I truly think that not only would this be helpful to any parent, but I believe that ALL educators (gen ed and spec ed) as well as administrators NEED to read this. It would be a perfect add to professional development!

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  29. This is AWESOME! If I'm not the lucky winner, this is going on my Amazon list!

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  30. Although both my boys don't have any of these issues that I am aware of I am still very interested in this book. My youngest boy does have issues with loud noises sometimes so who knows, maybe he does have some auditory issues. No matter what I think this book would be helpful to anyone- parents, teachers, kids, and me!

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  31. I'd love to read this book and pass it on to my son's IEP team so they can understand a little bit better why he can't sit "criss cross applesauce" for 45 stinking minutes of circle time without feeling like he's coming out of his skin!!!

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  32. Thanks for the review. My daughter's OT opened our eyes to SPD. Treatment for her SPD by the OT has been the most effective treatment for her so far. As we have learned to deal with her sensory needs, she has been better able to cope with the world. She has not been in OT for over a year now because she met all of the motor functioning goals but we continue to use the techniques that the therapist taught us on a daily basis and are always open to new suggestions. :)

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  33. This book would be great to help my other kids understand what their brother is going through. It sounds like it would be a nice easy read for those other family members too who kinda want to understand but don't want to take the time to really get it.

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  34. Thanks for the review, must add it to my wish list! Sounds like a great read for my family.

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  35. I'm a children's minister of a relatively small church, and we have 2 kids diagnosed with SPD and 2 others who show some evidence but are not officially diagnosed. I'd love to help their friends understand what they are dealing with. If I don't win, I'll definitely be buying!

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  36. Definitely interested in this book!!!! Thanks for the book review!

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  37. If I do not win, I'll definitely be purchasing this book! My daughter is going to be evaluated soon for SPD and my husband is having a hard time understanding why her flipping out is an issue that she can learn to work through and not a "parenting" issue!! Maybe this will help him!! :)

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  38. Awesome review! I am going to have to get my hands on this book one way or the other. Thanks!

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  39. Sounds like an interesting book and a terrific resource! I know many people who would benefit from reading it.

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