“Sensory” children—those who may be rigid, anxious or distracted, and may or may not have another related diagnosis—are faced with some special and unique challenges when it comes to organizing themselves for school and other activities. Carolyn Dalgliesh, a local author, professional organizer, and mother of a sensory child, has written a book, “The Sensory Child Gets Organized” due to be released next month, that shows parents and educators how they can best support sensory kids in the classroom, and beyond.
Early reviews are in, and they’re impressive. “A brilliant book,” says Edward Hallowell, M.D. “You are in the hands of a master tactician, an expert who knows her stuff cold, and a loving parent who’s been there and back.”
Carolyn studied psychology in college, and worked in sales and customer service management, before focussing on raising her children, now aged 12 and 10. When her sister needed help getting organized and asked Carolyn to help, they consulted a professional organizer. Carolyn soon recognized that she had stumbled on something she thought she could do, and do it well. “Organizing is a great mix of business and psychology. It’s a nice way to tap a psych degree.”
“Sensory” is a broad definition, by design. Sensory children (and adults, for that matter) exhibit signs of being overwhelmed to greater or lesser degrees by information coming at them from the environment. Children who display sensory defensiveness may grow in different directions, no matter what diagnosis—if any—they receive down the road. There are commonalities among all sensory children, and Carolyn’s book provides strategies to support the range of challenges. It’s especially beneficial for families with children that may occupy that middle ground of needing a little extra support, but not needing it so much that they qualify to receive services through the school department or community.
Carolyn advises parents of sensory children to think of going back to school as a 3-month process. In the first month, focus on getting familiar with new people and a new routine. In the second month, focus on getting things home and back to school again in a predictable and organized fashion. In the third month, focus on homework strategies and how you, as a parent, can support study habits at home.
“Lots of sensory kids don’t naturally have the ability to plan, organize, and prioritize,” Carolyn says. “Parents can help by breaking tasks down into manageable pieces and making things visual, until the process becomes intuitive. These kids are so smart, so creative, and they are capable of being successful if we communicate with them in the right way, and give parents the tools they need to help their kids.”
“The Sensory Child Gets Organized” will be on bookshelves September 3. You can meet Carolyn at 7 p.m. on September 6 at Books on the Square, Wayland Square, Providence. Read more about organizing sensory kids at Carolyn’s website, www.systemsforsensorykids.com.