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Book Review: Sensational Kids

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Book Review: Sensational Kids
Cover image courtesy of PriceGrabber

The Bottom Line

By Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR, with Doris A. Fuller, foreword by Carol Stock Kranowitz; 351 pages. Subtitle: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

What's Sensory Processing Disorder? It's what we're calling Sensory Integration Disorder now. Or Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Or Dysfunction of Sensory Integration. Whatever. Now? It's SPD. And here's the book to explain it all for you. Annoyance at label-changing aside, it's a pretty great read.

About the Guide Rating

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  • Friendly, easy-to-read style makes scientific approach bearable
  • Presents new ways to look at and think about sensory problems
  • Refutes argument that there's no research to back up sensory integration theory
  • Introduces "A SECRET" strategy to modify relationships, environment and tasks
  • Prolonged case studies are interesting and meaningful


  • Name change from "Sensory Integration Dysfunction" to "Sensory Processing Disorder" may be confusing
  • More focused on explanation than practical everyday applications
  • Not much consideration given to children with SPD and other special needs


  • Chapter 1: What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?
    Chapter 2: Symptoms and Warning Signs
  • Chapter 3: Assessment and Diagnosis
    Chapter 4: Treatment and Strategies
  • Chapter 5: Ryan, a Typically Developing First-Grader
  • Chapter 6: LaTanya, an Over-Responsive Kindergartner
  • Chapter 7: Tam, an Under-Responsive Second-Grader
  • Chapter 8: Ben, a Sensory-Seeking Preschooler
  • Chapter 9: Abby, a Dyspraxic Third-Grader
    Chapter 10: As Sensational Children Grow Up
  • Chapter 11: The Science of SPD
    Chapter 12: Beyond the Types
  • Chapter 13: Causes and Prevalence
    Chapter 14: Intervention Methods and Treatment Effectiveness
  • Conclusion: A Personal Message to Parents

Guide Review - Book Review: Sensational Kids

The effort to clarify, quantify, and classify sensory integration theory takes a big leap forward with Sensational Kids, the first effort to bring the new name and structure that occupational therapists have been developing for sensory problems to an audience of parents. It's full of new sub-groups like Sensory Modulation Disorder (encompassing Sensory Over-Responsivity, Sensory Under-Responsivity and Sensory Seeking), Sensory-Based Motor Disorder (envompassing Dyspraxia and Postural Disorder), and Sensory Discrimination Disorder. And since "sensory integration" is something that doctors and scientists consider to happen on a cellular level, Miller advocates for calling the behavioral symptoms Sensory Processing Disorder.

If you're carrying the same load of annoyance over that name change that I am, put it down: This is a seriously interesting book, offering a new way to look at sensory issues and backing it up with the actual scientific research. At the center are chapter-long studies of a day in the life of kids with different processing problems, and the give and take between the child's behavior and the therapist's interpretation of it kept me eagerly turning the pages. Helping adults take sensory issues seriously -- on a small scale of one child's day or a larger one of research and outreach -- is a good, even exciting, goal. SI has always been a "whatever works" approach, and if a new name works ... well, let's just stick to this one, shall we?

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