Tag Archives: Sensory Processing Disorder

Photo by author Amy Mair.

The Importance of Sensitive Children

Photo by author Amy Mair.

Photo by author Amy Mair.

Yesterday, while admiring pelicans on the beach, the wonderfully talented young adult author and my beloved friend, Amy Mair, educated me on effects of DDT on San Diego’s pelicans in the 70s. As it turns out, DDT softened the eggs of these birds, and their mothers crushed them when trying to warm them, thus dramatically reducing their population. Miraculously, scientists heard what these precious birds were trying to communicate, and ultimately banned DDT. This resulted not only in a pelican population boon, but also in a safer, DDT-free environment for ourselves and all the life that may have been impacted.

I wondered – what if we could hear sensitive children with as much compassion and respect as we heard those sensitive birds?

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, addresses this in her book, citing specific and fascinating points in history in which the sensitive perspectives of introverts (over 30% of our population) have been dismissed to our detriment, including the time leading up to recent housing market crash. A common gift of introversion is foresight, but it’s wasted if no one can hear it.

Profoundly intelligent and accomplished children’s author Jennifer O’Toole addresses the dismissal of her own sensitivities as a woman on the autism spectrum by stating:

We feel too much. React too much. Say too much. Need too much. So says the world. Except the world is wrong.

Imagine, if instead of hearing the wisdom the pelicans had to offer in the 70s, we collectively said, “Those pelicans feel too much. They’re too needy. They need to toughen up.” What an opportunity we would have missed. So why do we allow society to send these messages to our sensitive children?

How much more peaceful and healing could life on this planet be if we stopped labeling human sensitivity as too much of anything, and started hearing its wisdom?

I believe in the deepest fiber of my being that every child has something of value to bring to our earth. However, I think we sometimes confuse what value truly is. One of the issues I see a lot in children’s literature is the trend of extremely sensitive characters, frequently stereotypically portrayed as autistic, serving the sole purpose of providing “inspiration” for main, neurotypical characters to become “better people.” While I’m certain these story arcs were created from a place of good intention, I believe they miss a major point – that the sensitive characters (and the impressionable little readers who relate to them) have much more to offer than that.

In her book, Susan Cain states that the most sensitive instruments in science are the most expensive. Think of the care that is taken to ensure those instruments are handled correctly and are not harmed. Think of how much value we attach to the information they deliver.

What were to happen if we treated our sensitive kids with the respect and gentleness that we treat our sensitive instruments? What if we heard their cries, and allowed them to watch school assemblies on Skype from their media centers instead of thrusting them into painful, chaotic environments? What if we turned down (or off) the music at the “child-friendly” venues and the school events that blatantly disregard their needs? What if we provided low-lit cozy spaces for the kids who cover their ears or walk the periphery of the playground so they could read or do a soothing activity during overstimulating recess?

What if we heard their wisdom?

Sensitive kids are necessary and as valuable to the collective as anyone else. Let’s honor them. Let’s hear them. And together, let’s help our planet heal.


Cozy, Holiday Cooking Class with no Hoopla!

IMG_7492Our world has gotten so loud. Kid-friendly has come to mean chaotic, with each kid event louder, bigger, more stimulating than the last. Most kids don’t thrive under these conditions, and for introverted kids or those with sensory processing disorders and/or autism, these environments are incredibly painful and lead to meltdowns.

We are alienating these kids.

This is a primary theme in my chapter book Super Lexi Is Not a Fan of Christmas, as second-grader Lexi struggles to cut through the “hoopla” at her school during the holidays, and years to find her own peace. Reviewers have called it a “different” kind of a Christmas story, but I’m not convinced it’s that different from the experiences of many of our kids. The kids who are most likely to suffer from sensory overload are also the least likely to verbalize it. Experts estimate that 33-50% of our kids meet this description (source: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.)

My goal as a children’s author is to work toward a world that honors all kids and their unique, beautiful wiring. For these reasons, I teamed up with Amanda from The Good Food Factory to provide a cozy, quiet holiday cooking class. We turned down the volume and the lights to enjoy some respite and cozy holiday food. Amanda has amazing talent in offering a truly inclusive classroom, providing more stimulation for those who need it, without disrupting those who need quiet.

We read from Super Lexi Is Not a Fan of Christmas, we cooked latkes (Lexi’s favorite holiday food from her class party) and we sipped Lexi’s all-time favorite holiday drink, hot cocoa with marshmallows.

It was a cozy, delicious event. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with wonderful, compassionate Amanda. If you’re in the San Diego area, I highly recommend her kids’ cooking classes. And if you’re not, you can check out her kids’ TV cooking show and cook her healthy, kid-friendly food with your kids at home!



Super Lexi Giveaway on Goodreads!

Super Lexi is a warmly funny chapter book about a determined but nerve-wracked second grader.

Lexi’s got phobias about lots of things. Yogurt. Songs that get stuck in her head. Cashiers who think they’re good with kids. Her biggest phobia on Planet Earth, though, is eyeballs staring at her. That’s how come it’s too bad she has a solo in the school Parents’ Day performance. Good thing she has a plan. If she tornado-twirls at blur speed, she can disappear onstage!

Enter to win a copy of Super Lexi below!

Click to enter!

Click to enter!


Big Week for Chapter Book Super Lexi!

Lots of activity with my chapter book Super Lexi this week!

The awesome tweets.

The awesome tweets.

First, investigative reporter from Wired magazine and esteemed supporter of the neurodiversity movement Steve Silberman tweeted kind words about Super Lexi. Needless to say, it made my day, because Steve Silberman is awesome.

Next, I began my long overdue journey on Goodreads! Who knew that was such a spectacular place? I can make friends who are only interested in talking about books? I can’t think of any thing more fun. Come find me. I”ll be thrilled to talk about nothing but books with you.

Click to find me!

Click to find me!

My Facebook page is happy!

My Facebook page is happy!

And finally, I am profoundly grateful that my Facebook page now has more than 2000 followers. The support has been overwhelming!

As many of you know by now, I have a phobia of eyeballs staring at me. Going public with Super Lexi was out of character for me, but I it did anyway in the hopes that I would figure out a way to survive it.

This is why I cling to an old quote my dear friend Kurt Vonnegut used to say (kidding, he was not my dear friend, though I’m certain my life would have been complete if he had been):


Thanks to all of you, there’s hope for my wings yet!