Sensory Processing Disorder

“Understanding Sensory Dysfunction” Book Review

Making sense of a complicated and often misunderstood disorder.

by Polly Godwin Emmons and Liz McKendry Anderson
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, $19.95
Purchase Understanding Sensory Dysfunction

Understanding Sensory Dysfunction reminded me of how far psychology has come in understanding this complicated and frequently misunderstood disorder. I was particularly impressed by the chapter on disorders that commonly coexist with sensory dysfunction (also known as sensory integration disorder), including obsessive-compulsive disorder, learning disabilities, and ADHD. Emmons and McKendry note that SD may actually worsen the symptoms of other disorders.

This comprehensive book provides a list of red flags that warn of SD through the stages of a child’s development, from aversions to clothing tags in younger kids to misunderstanding homework assignments in teens.

By the end of the book, the reader will have a clear idea of what SD looks like, and will know how to help children integrate their sensory experiences so as to lead happier lives. For example, the environment should complement a child’s level of arousal: Bright light, fast music, and colorful surroundings will perk up a sensory under-reactive child, but will confuse and disturb the sensory hyper-reactive child.

As the mother of an adolescent who has both SD and ADHD, I found the strategies for coping at school to be especially valuable. This book is an excellent resource for parents and teachers alike. [Visit the authors’ Web site to learn more about sensory integration.]