This guest Q&A is with Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A., a former teacher who speaks internationally about SPD’s effect on children’s learning and behavior and how families, teachers, therapists and other professionals can help. Her first book in the “Sync” series, The Out-of-Sync Child, was recently selected by Brain, Child magazine as one of the top ten books about children with disabilities. Carol’s new book, The Out-of-Sync Child Grows Up: Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder in the Adolescent and Young Adult Years, has just been published.
Hey Carol! Can you tell us more about why you decided to pursue a career as a music and movement teacher?
Becoming a preschool teacher was not my plan. I wanted to work for a magazine in New York or be a Broadway gypsy, going from one chorus line to another as a dancer, but marriage, moving to Washington, DC, and soon having two children changed all that. I “fell” (figuratively, not literally) into the teaching job. My sons went to a fabulous preschool, St. Columba’s Nursery School, and one day I casually asked the Director if she needed a movement teacher. She hired me on the spot, and in the next 25 years I learned about my young students who were out of sync and how parents and teachers could help them address their sensory challenges.
Can you tell us a bit about your new book? Perigee Books is quite an exceptional publisher.
In 1998, Perigee Books published my first book in the “Sync” series — The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder. Parents of kids with SPD contacted me, begging for information about “what happens next,” and adults with SPD got in touch, yearning for information about others like them who had struggled with sensory issues throughout their lives. Truly, I felt I was the last person who could write about teens and adults for three reasons:
A) Neither I nor anyone in my family has SPD, so I don’t live with it
B) As a teacher, not a therapist, I am not trained to diagnose or treat anyone with SPD
C) My expertise is with the little guyWhat are some of the main challenges those with SPD face today?
As the years rolled by, I wrote two more books for Perigee — The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with SPD, and, with Joye Newman, Growing an In Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow. The book about SPD’s effect on growing children was on my mental back burner for 18 years, but how to light that fire was the challenge.
What are some of the main challenges those with SPD face today?
According to the book’s contributors, their main challenges are:
A) Dealing with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as grooming, finding comfortable clothes, eating, getting out of the house, “surviving” at school and work and the shopping mall, and sleeping
B) Developing and maintaining relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners
How did the idea of including young individuals with SPD in your book come about? We were so very honored to be a part of this.
Gazillions of factors affect how children with SPD grow up, and everyone’s development is different. Thus, no sensible author would have the temerity to write a book that claims to describe how SPD will play out for the reader. Still, the need continued to grow for an accessible book like The Out-of-Sync Child to help teenagers and young adults, and someone had to write it!
Who better could say what needed to be aired than the experts who are growing up and living with SPD? I decided to ask them to voice their feelings and express what they urgently want the world to know. Then I wove their stories together.
What can we expect from you next? Any fun projects coming up?
Coming up (but don’t hold your breath — because first I have to catch mine!) are two more books. One is a children’s book, Grandma Goodenough Gets In Sync, a sequel to The Goodenoughs Get In Sync, published by Sensory World. Grandma doesn’t get it about SPD until she spends a weekend caring for her three grandchildren and ends up bouncing on the therapy ball, wearing noise cancelling earphones, rubbing a loofa sponge on her arms and legs, etc., just as they do, to get in sync — and she’s loving it. Another book is The Out-of-Sync Adult, which will feature the powerful stories I received but had to put aside because they just wouldn’t fit!
Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Almost everyone with SPD can be helped. The most appropriate treatment is occupational therapy using a sensory integration approach (OT-SI). While young children benefit more quickly, individuals of any age can see important improvements with treatment. It is never too late! So, I suggest finding an OT, learning to develop an at-home sensory lifestyle, reading everything you can find on the subject, and befriending the sensational individuals you’ll find at conferences and on the Internet (like Kerry) who will encourage you to keep striving for “Sync.” You can do it!