Carolyn Dalgliesh is a friendly, fellow Rhode Island mom. She is also the parent of a sensory child.
Normal routines like getting ready for school, doing homework or hosting play dates are not necessarily “normal” for parents of sensory children. They can be downright frustrating and challenging.
This is the inspiration behind Carolyn’s new book, The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious or Distracted Kids. This book is written for parents of sensory children, and it takes parents one step further by providing them with practical systems and solutions to help make life easier for everyone. Not only does Carolyn understand first-hand what parents go through and the challenges they face. Carolyn is also a professional organizer and the president of Simple Organizing Strategies, a professional organizing service for homes and small businesses.
The Sensory Child Gets Organized fuses Carolyn’s expertise as a professional organizer with her personal experience as a parent of a sensory child, and the result is a rich resource for parents filled with useful and practical solutions. The book shows parents how they can effectively shift their environment (in and out of the home) to support their sensory child, making everyday life easier.
Mark my words: Parents will refer to The Sensory Child Gets Organized often, and they will be relieved and inspired by it. I asked Carolyn to define “Sensory Child” in her own words. She explained that it refers to children who are rigid, anxious, or distracted as a consequence of a sensory processing disorder, autism, AD/HD, anxiety, bipolar disorder or other neuro-differences.
“Though there are a number of profiles and diagnoses for a “sensory” child, many core challenges are similar, including attention problems, inflexibility, anxiety, and social/emotional challenges. And these are the very challenges that I aim to help parents support in The Sensory Child Gets Organized,” Carolyn said.
My Q&A with Carolyn
What inspired you to write this book?
Carolyn: Years ago, as I was learning how to support my own sensory child, I felt like there was a gap between the essential clinical support my family received and the pratical in-home solutions we were desperate for in our daily life. When I started my professional organizing business, I saw that so many other parents of sensory kids did not intuitively know how to create the structure, routines, and visual aids needed to support their kids. My main goal in writing this book was to support parents and help them learn the new Sensory Organizing rules for raising rigid, anxious, or distracted kids – something that can have such a positive impact on life at home for the whole family.
What can parents of sensory children expect from The Sensory Child Gets Organized?
Carolyn: In the book, I aim to help parents gain a basic understanding of common sensory profiles and common overlapping challenges. I help parents learn how to objectively observe their child, and prioritize needs with the SSK Sensory Organizing® Worksheet. And I share ways to use structure, routines, and visual aids to support challenging tasks and times of day.
What makes your book so refreshingly different?
Carolyn: I hope people can understand that it comes from someone who has lived the “sensory” experience and knows the challenge of learning the sensory language. I also hope people can realize the power of small supports. Sensory Organizing is a way to shift your environment to tap into your sensory child’s strengths and support their challenges - a gentle but very powerful tool. My hope is that this book shows parents how to create routines, structure, and visual aids in an easy, organized format.
If you were to give a parent of a sensory child one piece of advice, what would it be?
Carolyn: For me, the biggest ah-ha moment came when I realized that the power of sensory parenting comes down to one main idea. Sensory Parenting is about Proactive Parenting vs. Reactive Parenting - this means that most of your parenting muscle is flexed before an experience in the preparation, visual aids, and social skill training that sets up your “sensory” child to be successful.
How have the evidence-based techniques (featured in your book) helped you personally?
Carolyn: It has been long proven that visually based communication works well for many sensory kids. For me, the challenge was understanding what that meant for my child and putting it into everyday practice. I knew how to create structure for myself but had no idea how to create it for my sensory child, who experienced the world very differently. Having the visually based system as a proven starting point, I could move into the next place of learning my child’s strengths, challenges, triggers, and fascinations - all things that helped me personalize a Sensory Organizing program to his unique profile.
This book offers a plethora of tips like checklists, labeled bins, and so much more. The advice you offer is invaluable, such as the importance of creating a routine for a sensory child. Please give us an example of something parents can do to TODAY help create a better routine for their children.
Carolyn: The most important starting point is prioritizing needs. Start where you see an immediate impact on day-to-day life. Break down the challenge to its key components, get rid of any unnecessary steps, and think about a way to create a simple visual aid to support the new routine. The day before you begin the new routine, take a moment to review it and the visual guide with your sensory child during a calm moment. Then consistently implement the new routine with the visual guide which helps your sensory child stay on task and helps them commit the new routine to memory over time.
What piece of advice would you give parents who fear new and unfamiliar situations (for their sensory child)?
Carolyn: Think about what has been challenging for your child in past situations - a new/unfamiliar location, new/unfamiliar people, or new/unfamiliar toys? For example, it helps to show up at a new/unfamiliar place before everyone else to allow your child to freely explore and get comfortable, take pictures of people your child will be seeing to help them have a visual, or bring a few favorite toys from home to set up a quiet place that becomes their go-to spot if they need a break. Also, it is so important for parents to know that having everything go wrong in an unfamiliar situation should be expected now and again. The bottom line is you learn more about how to support your sensory child when you do it “all wrong” verses the 100 times you do it kind of right.
What is your favorite “take-away” from this book?
Carolyn: For me, the most important take-away is the power of writing it down. When I sit down and take out the SSK Sensory Organizing® Worksheet, I begin to get clarity. Clarity about where my sensory child is here and now, what I can do to support challenging times, and how we can connect as individuals and as a family.
What’s next for you?
Carolyn: Writing The Sensory Child Gets Organized has been an amazing journey but my true passion is working with people. I hope to use the book as a platform to be able to work with as many parents and families as I can through workshops, presentations, and personal client services. For me, the core of this comes down to helping sensory kids, parents, and their families live happier and more connected lives.
The Sensory Child Gets Organized (Touchstone/ A Simon & Schuster Trade Paperback) is available at many local independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.com, Indiebound.org, and barnesandnoble.com. For more information about the book and Carolyn’s services, visit www.sensoryorganizing.com. And please join Carolyn for a book signing at the Candita Clayton Gallery on Thursday, September 26th from 6-8:30 pm.
Jackie Hennessey is a local writer and pr professional who blogs about her take on motherhood at www.ventingsessions.com and writes about it in her book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker.
* Review Disclaimer: Jackie received a copy of The Sensory Child Gets Organized for the sole purpose of reviewing the book. The opinions expressed in the AskMom column of OnlineRI.com are 100% authored by Jackie Hennessey *