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I still remember sitting at the "student study" group with the school principal, psychologist, resource
director, kindergarten teacher, and occupational therapist while they gave me their official findings.  I am
very thankful and lucky that our school took the time to test my son, but that day when I heard the words
Sensory Integration Dysfunction for the first time, I remember thinking... SO?  So what if he has some
trouble staying still in his seat?  So what if he can't quite get a handle on "personal space"?  So what if he is
the messiest eater in the class?  So what if he likes to paint his whole hand and maybe his friend's shirt
instead of one picture on one piece of paper?  I felt like they were just telling me what I already knew.  After
all, I had lived with him for the last 6 years and I knew what he was like.  I remember asking, "Aren't these
behaviors just his own unique personality and won't he eventually grow out of them or learn to deal with
it?  Why would I want to change my perfect, adorable, first born son?  When does it go from a quirky,
possibly irritating, behavior to a "Dysfunction"?  The answer was, when it interferes with what he needs to
do in his daily life which currently is: sitting together in a group during circle time, paying attention to the
teacher when she/he is talking, participating in a classroom by raising your hand before you talk,
following directions, taking turns and sharing and playing together with friends, and being a part of a class
that is LEARNING and having learning be FUN!  

I decided to stay open to what I was hearing because I want my son to enjoy himself at school and to enjoy
learning, but I was still concerned that they wanted to pull him out of class for 15 minutes a day to see the
occupational therapist.  I expressed that I didn't want him to feel singled out or different from the rest of the
students and their answer was that he already knew he was different.  I gave permission for him to be able
to see the occupational therapist for 15 minutes every day at school and I was loaned a copy of "
The Out-of-
Sync Child" by Carol Stock Kranowitz and read it over the spring break.  It was what Oprah would call an
"Aha!" moment.  I saw behaviors and tendencies that I recognized instantly.  What excited me the most was
the fact that instead of being told to "sit still", "stop bouncing", or "don't touch that", my son was going to
have a time during the day when these things were permissible.  He was going to be told that the things he
craved were ok to do and that it was right for him to trust his instincts. Ultimately, he would be taught to
self regulate" and take control of his own sensory needs.  That in and of itself would be a huge boost to his
self confidence.

Finally, I stopped wondering and questioning everything.  Why does my son crash into people to say hello?
Why does he hug so hard it hurts? Why does he like to be upside down?  Why is he always jumping off of
things?  Why does he touch things and people too often or too hard?  Why does he climb so high?  Why does
he want to jump on the trampoline all the time?  Why is he so tenacious?  Why must he taste, smear, and
submerge himself in anything that looks different and interesting?  Why is every lamp in our house
broken?  Why do we not have any breakable knick knacks out at all?  Why is the dinner table a disaster
after every meal?  You get the picture.  I felt like there was finally an answer.  And after many battles,
yelling bouts, power struggles, and time outs, we felt a quiet peace settling in our home.  I know now that I
don't need to feel guilty about letting my son jump on the couch or bed because that is actually good for
him.  I don't have to explain to anybody why I allow him to ride under the grocery cart on his tummy so he
can feel like he's flying.  I don't worry that I'm being too lenient when I let him dripping wet from his bath
spin slippery  and naked in circles on the kitchen tile floor.  Now, instead of saying, WHY are you doing
that?,  I say WHAT do you like about that?  HOW does it make you feel?  And I can make sure that type of
sensory input is included in his "diet" at appropriate times.  It is liberating to let my child be who he is and
I am encouraged when I see how much he truly enjoys experiencing the sensations.  Note that this does
not mean he is free to do as he pleases with no discipline or consequences.  We still deal with that like
every other parent on a daily basis!  See the "discipline" section of our
What Is SI? page.

04/07-We have just started OT at his school for 15 minutes a day.  He absolutely loves it and has been
more focused during class.  He even got an award in his class for "caring".  This from a boy who was sent
home from preschool only one year ago at least once a week for biting, hitting, throwing, and using
profanity towards his teacher.  He is so proud of himself!  And we are proud also, of course.  

04/08 UPDATE: In first grade, his day was almost 3 hours longer than in kindergarten, so we added
another 15 minute session of mostly fine motor or large motor focus in the afternoons.  Now, near the end
of his first grade year, I've just had my one year meeting to discuss my son and his IEP at school.  He has
met all the goals set up by the occupational therapist.  Once we were able to meet his sensory needs, we
were able to address the problems that were behavioral with a "behavior chart".  Daily his teacher marks his
chart ever 30 minutes with a + or o and at the end of the day, he discusses the chart with the resource
teacher.  I feel like all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.  Now we can deal with the sensory
needs and the behavior too.  He is a much happier, more focused, confident, well liked boy.

04/09 UPDATE: We just had our yearly IEP meeting again and everyone happily agreed that he will no
longer require occupational therapy at school. His behavior has improved dramatically during his second
grade year and with his teacher and I both on board, he has made remarkable progress. The resource
director and occupational therapist both observed him thoroughly and found him to be very co-ordinated
and energetic, yet also able to focus when necessary. (as much as the average 2nd grader!) They have
reported that he is now "integrated" and his sensory needs have been met. He still loves swinging, jumping,
and spinning, but he is able to wait for the right time and place for those actions and is not consumed with
them so much that they disrupt his daily activities. I believe he will always hug, push, and hit a little too
hard, but this year that has meant 5 solid homeruns!!

Since the beginning of this journey, I have read many
books on Sensory Integration and Sensory
Processing and it occurred to me how many other children (and some adults!) have many of these same
behaviors.  There are so many different degrees of this "disorder", it seems to be something that every parent
should pay some attention to.  Not that every child has a "disorder", but I believe senses are meant to be
used.  Like the article on the
home page says, children thrive when they get all kinds of sensory stimuli.  In
our TV, video game, scheduled, computerized world, these days our kids are being deprived of not only the
simple pleasures in life, but also a necessary component to their development.   Have you noticed the
playgrounds lately?  Do you see swings, merry go rounds, or the old favorite teeter totter?  Lawyers, liability
issues, and the price of steel has made the playgrounds plastic, foam, and incredibly "safe".  Did you know
that recess time is being edged out minute by minute?  New standards in education places demands on
preschoolers and kindergarteners that used to not be required until later in the first or second grades.  
And the role of play, which many early childhood education experts see as key to learning for the youngest
children, is under siege.  In most cases, kindergarten centers have morphed from art, drama and
housekeeping to ones focusing on literacy, math and writing.  See
Kindergarten used to be play and
naptime — no more.

I've become extremely interested in and am currently taking classes and majoring in Early Childhood
Education.  In my website, I've included pages on
childhood, nature, play, plus all the "therapies" for good
sensory development.  I believe Sensory Needs will be mainstream in the next few years and all children
will benefit from these strategies.  Most importantly I believe that we need to honor children and know that
they are so in tune with themselves, they know best what their bodies and systems need.
Welcome and have fun browsing!

See an excerpt from "
A Child's Work The Importance of Fantasy Play" or get the book and visit our Play
Therapy page for many more articles on the importance of play.

Here's part of an article from Florida's Sun Sentinel ^ | 7-18-05 | Chris Kahn

"In the pursuit of safety, teeter-totters and swings are disappearing from playgrounds

Andrea Levin is grateful that Broward County schools care about her daughter's safety. But this year when
they posted a sign that demanded "no running" on the playground, it seemed like overkill. "I realize we want to
keep kids from cracking their heads open," said Levin, whose daughter is a Gator Run Elementary fifth grader
in Weston. "But there has to be a place where they can get out and run."

Broward's "Rules of the Playground" signs, bought from an equipment catalogue and displayed at all 137
elementary schools in the district, are just one of several steps taken to cut down on injuries and the lawsuits
they inspire. "It's too tight around the equipment to be running," said Safety Director Jerry Graziose, the
Broward County official who ordered the signs. "Our job was to try to control it."

How about swings or those hand-pulled merry-go-rounds? "Nope. They've got moving parts. Moving parts on
equipment is the number one cause of injury on the playgrounds."

Teeter-totters? "Nope. That's moving too."

Sandboxes? "Well, I have to be careful about animals" turning them into litter boxes.

Cement crawl tubes? "Vagrants. The longer they are, the higher possibility that a vagrant could stay in them. We
have shorter ones now that are made out of plastic or fiberglass."

Broward playgrounds aren't the only ones to avoid equipment that most adults remember. Swings, merry-go-
rounds, teeter-totters and other old standards are vanishing from schools and parks around the country,
according to the National Program for Playground Safety."

And Another from the Boston Globe,Drake Bennett, April 15, 2007

Back to the Playground

Writing on the “renewed interest in how and where children play,” Boston Globe staff writer Drake Bennett
relates that the recent “reexamination of playgrounds is triggered by the conviction that, in the United States in
particular, playgrounds have become rather unfun – designed with only safety in mind, they’ve lost the capacity
to excite or challenge children.”  Playground historian and Common Good “Value of Play” panelist Susan
Solomon tells Bennett that “fear of personal injury lawsuits has shrunk the playground.”  “Slides and swings
today are lower,” she argues, “and therefore slower, than before.  …  ‘The see-saw today … is pretty much a
horizontal bar that hardly moves in either direction.  It just kind of jiggles a little bit.’”  Yet, increasingly, Bennett
writes, play advocates are arguing for a better balance between “the need for free, even rambunctious, play”
and safety concerns – and for an acknowledgment “that risk and imagination deserve a place in the
playground.”  Mary Rivkin, a professor of education at the University of Maryland, states: “‘Children need
vertiginous experiences ….  They need fast and slow and that high feeling you get when you run down a hill.  
They need to have tippy things.’  …  If there’s no challenge, no pain of failure … there’s no learning – and less
enjoyment.”  Roger A. Hart, director of the Children’s Environments Research Group and “Value of Play”
panelist, adds that “one problem with trying to child-proof playgrounds is that children, trying to make the safer
playground equipment interesting, come up with unforeseen and often more dangerous ways of using it.”  

So, here's to getting "back to basics", getting our hands dirty, recognizing the Value of Play and letting kids
be kids!