Archive for book review

sensesColor my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book by Paula Aquilla BSc, OT, DOMP is a wonderful educational tool for any child to explore all eight of their senses! Factual descriptions are provided with the practical example of waiting for a school bus to help the reader understand how their entire sensory system works. It begins with an explanation of how our sensory system depends on our nervous system and how information is carried throughout the body – to and from the brain.

The book will appeal to children young and old, as it presents options for both. Younger children can activate their senses through the process of coloring while a parent reads the text to them. Older children can easily read the book to themselves, with or without a little help, because the descriptive visuals help boost comprehension. The author has done a wonderful job of illustrating the bigger words that name the various parts of the sensory system. Even the term sensory modulation is described in such a way that will make sense to most children.

Of course, one is never too old to color as the popularity of adult coloring books testify too. The act of coloring itself has the capacity to calm the nervous system and soothe the senses. It’s also a fun and appealing way to learn!

The author, Paula Aquilla, has been an occupational therapist for more than thirty years and her understanding of children with sensory issues is evident.

Color my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book is published and available in paperback from Future Horizons, as well as Amazon and Goodreads.

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Product review: In-Sync Activity Cards

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Product review: In-Sync Activity Cards: 50 Simple, New Activities to Help Children Develop, Learn, and Grow! by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz.


in-sync-activity-cardsWhat a great idea! Remember flash cards that facilitated a quick execution of aptitude? Now we have In-Sync Activity Cards: 50 Simple, New Activities to Help Children Develop, Learn, and Grow! by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz.

It’s not a book, although there is a book version available. It’s a deck of fifty easy to implement 5×7-laminated cards that enhance a child’s ability to master developmental skills. Created by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz, authors of the highly regarded book, Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow! These user-friendly, portable, and easy to share activity cards are based on their book. I see it as a vital addition to the resources that will help any child achieve his or her greatest developmental potential. Each card is a perfect mini lesson plan that parents, teachers and anyone who works with children can use.

All cards are double-sided. One side contains a description of the activity, including the necessary materials. The other side of the card contains information about how the activity addresses a child’s development via sensory, motor and visual skills; how to adapt the activity to your child’s ability; and, how to assess your child’s performance.

The deck is color coded and arranged by levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced activities – that are flexible and adaptable. Starting at the beginner level will help a child experience success and motivate him or her to proceed to the next level.

In addition to being a great guide for the adult, each card includes an illustration that makes a good visual for the child to follow and create understanding from.

These quick activities will get any child moving. Even those who don’t normally engage in gross motor movement, such as typical outdoor amusement and the physical games children tend to play.

What a quick and fun way to help enhance a child’s perceptual, visual and sensory systems without her even knowing it’s therapeutic. In addition, one can customize the activities according to the unique needs of the child to create a meaningful sensory diet that can be delivered in short spurts or longer blocks of time throughout the day.

Aside from their therapeutic usefulness, parents can use these cards on the go. Whether traveling on long trips or short excursions, they make the perfect “let’s take a break” when long waits or boredom are threatening to create havoc.

Kranowitz and Newman were very clever in creating these cards to go along with their book, Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow? The activity cards are a great companion that makes it simple for parents and professionals to implement the content within the 240 pages of their book. All of which will have a positive and powerful impact on a child’s development.


Go to Sensory World  and click here to purchase your own set of these In-Sync Activity Cards. AND, you can get a discount when you use the code PARENTCOACH at checkout!


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Book review: The Special Needs School Survival Guide: Handbook for Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, & More! by Cara Koscinski

guideGuidebooks are great! They keep you focused and prevent you from losing your way. That’s exactly what The Special Needs School Survival Guise: Handbook for Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, Learning Disabilities, & More! by Cara Koscinski does. This book is written from the professional perspective of an Occupational Therapist and the personal perspective of a mom with children on the autism spectrum. It is a wonderful compilation of tactics and techniques for teachers and parents to employ. The book focuses on the ‘in’s and out’s’ of Individual Education Programs (IEPs), working with school personnel and how the various special education diagnoses (identification categories) are interpreted and handled.

The author’s expertise as an Occupational Therapist provides the reader with 185 pages of activities that will help a child be more successful in the school environment. Teacher’s that follow this guidebook will easily meet the needs of their students so they can experience success. It is something teachers will reach for many times throughout their school career. The book is written in Q & A format, which makes it easy to navigate and find what you are looking for. The content presented by the author will also assist any parent in their capacity to be an informed and highly effective advocate.

The vast array of resources listed throughout the book – websites, products, agencies and associations – are all very helpful tools that will provide extra guidance to professionals and parents. This book will empower the reader to truly maximize a student’s potential. Despite the fact that most of the content is addressed to teachers and occupational therapists, this guidebook will enhance understanding for anyone caring for a child on the autism spectrum.

To get your copy of The Special Needs School Survival Guide at a discounted rate, simply click here to get to the Future Horizons website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box upon check out to receive your 15% discount and enjoy!

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friendsFriends Are…? by  Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan is not just a good story to read to a child, but also a fantastic educational tool. The author touches on fourteen very important social skills in the form of friendship rules that are easily reinforced and recalled through rhyme. Because they are all set to verse, these rules can be reviewed in many forms, as a poem, song or chanting the lyrics to create a rap tune!

Written by a loving grandmother to help her grandson on the autism spectrum make friends, this book and the previous five others in this series, are a true labor of love. The content for these informative children’s books was generated by the author’s desire to help her grandson with the questions he posed or a challenge he was experiencing.

What is great about this book is that it can be read to any child, on or off the autism spectrum. These friendship rules apply to all! And the beautiful illustrations by Jennifer Lackgren really make the book enticing–how can anyone not be drawn to those most adorable and colorful characters!

Each friendship rule has it’s own title, making them stand out and easy to find. At the end of the book each rule is listed again on a checklist that encourages active participation from the parent and child to practice them. The Friendship Rules Checklist is my favorite, because this interactive aspect of the book challenges the child to master these skills in real life.

Wideman’s book has three other extras that make this book more than just a story.

–       She includes a Note to Parents at the end to remind them that these skills often do not come naturally to a child on the autism spectrum, and repetition in many forms is crucial to have them take hold. The mention of her grandson, and the history of how the book evolved, give the book an authenticity that other parents can relate to.

–       For children who may not understand some of the words used in the book, she added a word list/glossary at the back. These bigger words are listed in alphabetical order just like in a dictionary. Looking up words at the end of a book that the reader may not grasp is a great pre-teaching tool for using an actual dictionary or researching words online.

–      I’m happy to see the continuation of the “Where’s Waldo” theme that was included in the previous five books in this series. It invites the reader to become a detective and engages them in looking for items hidden within the illustrations. The other precious tidbit that I am privy to is that the hidden red sports shoe you find throughout the book was drawn by the author’s grandson himself. Now how unique and endearing is that!

This book is such a great learning instrument because it speaks to various learning styles–all reinforcing the other for optimal learning. It appeals to the visual learner, the auditory one, and the inclusion of the Check List adds a kinesthetic component as well. And as previously mentioned, the musical could be addressed as well. This is what I call a fun way to learn!

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sensory issuesThis 151-page journey provides a wonderful glimpse into the world of an individual with sensory issues. We all have sensory issues to some degree or another yet everyone’s experience is different. This difference is what the author, Rachel Schneider, makes clear throughout her book, Making Sense – A Guide to Sensory Issues. When sensory issues challenge a person’s ability to cope with daily life it is called a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Reading this book will certainly enhance the reader’s perspective of what it is like for a person living with SPD.

Making Sense does a great job in showing that everyone with a SPD is unique. You just can’t put all people with sensory issues into the same category. Two individuals may both struggle with their sense of sight yet it will manifest itself differently in each person. The brain of one will interpret the sensory signals differently from all the others.

Schneider takes you down a path that allows you to peek into what it was like for her growing up with SPD. Her shared experiences provide a good baseline for understanding how someone else with sensory issues might be experiencing the world around her. What she does best is encourage parents to go beyond a one-size-fits-all description and tune in to the nuances of the child they have before them.

The author’s writing is witty and her analogies are helpful to get any mind to understand the basics. If you are a visual thinker the comparison of SPD to “audio technicians with a soundboard” they can’t regulate is priceless. Comparing SPD to a “neurological traffic jam” (a term that originated with Dr. Anna Jean Ayres), in Chapter 5 provides the reader with a visual description most anyone can understand. She presents many studies that back up the hypothesis that the brains in individuals with sensory issues are structurally different and often unequipped to handle the incoming traffic.

Any sensory issue is likely to continue across the lifespan, in different degrees at different times. Schneider notes three factors that determines the challenges a person experiences at various stages of life and she includes a very creative visual equation – it may look like algebra but it’s not – to explain this concept.

Like many others in the field, the author advocates for early detection, which can make a huge difference in a person’s progress and self-image. Left undiagnosed, other labels and mental health issues may be acquired that can complicate treatment and stall progress. Despite this, Schneider loaded this book with hope and a list of excellent tools for improving an individual’s sensory experiences.

This book culminates in a great two-page guide for “Putting It All Together”. Here the author presents fifteen of the most current and important things to keep in mind when it comes to understanding sensory issues.


To get your copy of Making Sense – A Guide to Sensory Issues at a discounted rate, simply click here to get to the Sensory World website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box upon check out to receive your 15% discount and enjoy!

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familyAs the rates of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) continue to rise it’s more and more likely that autism will become part of your extended family or move into your neighborhood sometime in the future. If that person turns out to belong to someone you care about, Autism and the Extended Family: A Guide for Those Outside the Immediate Family Who Know and Love Someone with Autism written by Raun D. Melmed, MD and Maria Bird-West Wheeler, is for you.

This book will help anyone gain a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders and how the diagnosis can impact a family member, friend or neighbor. The case examples and cautions throughout the book inform the reader about ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ when it comes to supporting and helping a parent of a child with autism. But as the book emphasizes throughout, the best thing a person can do is to ask how they can be supportive. Every parent’s experience is different so the answer to “What can I do?” will vary from parent to parent.

Autism and the Extended Family covers all the possible individuals that are indirectly affected when a child is diagnosed with autism: grandparents, siblings, stepfamilies, uncles and aunts, cousins, close friends and neighbors. The appendix at the back of the book presents nine activities that can empower extended family members and friends. These topics range from – managing behaviors, communication strategies, reducing stress, resolving conflicts that may surface, helping with the basic self-care skills of toileting and eating, and even guidelines for making an Autism Survival Kit.

The thirty-three case examples that are included in this book are a great addition because they show how diverse the needs of individuals on the spectrum are. They also provide a lot of insight and ideas into the many ways a person can be helpful. This wonderful guidebook could have been titled, “Everything You Need to Know About Being a Relative or a Friend of a Parent Who Has a Child with Autism”.

If you are a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I would inform everyone in your extended family circle that this book exists. If you do not have a child with autism but there is such a child within your extended family/social circle and autism is still new or somewhat foreign to you, stop wondering what it’s like for ‘that’ parent of ‘that child’ with autism. Take action! Nurture a sincere interest in your family member’s situation and purchase this book. Read all 125 pages and then go forward with a mission to be helpful.

I know many people who claim that autism has not yet come to their family or neighborhood. That may be true but, if so, why wait? Society needs more individuals to understand what autism ‘looks like’, ‘sounds like’, and ‘feels like’. This world needs people who have the knowledge of best strategies to employ when autism appears in their extended family circle and this is ‘the’ guidebook for that.

To get your copy of the book, Autism and the Extended Family, at a discounted rate, simply click here  to get to the Future Horizons website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box when you check out to receive your 15% discount and enjoy!

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Children with autism can be their own worst enemy at times. If left to their own devices they can become very passive, helpless and much too dependent to live a full and satisfying life. Dr. Temple Grandin, best-selling author, autism advocate and animal science professor has teamed up with Dr. Debra Moore to produce a wonderful new resource that addresses this issue. The Loving Push is certain to help parents answer the question, “Am I encouraging my child enough or enabling my child too much?” – and move beyond the answer to make important shifts.

This dynamic duo – Dr. Grandin speaking from personal experience and Dr. Moore from a professional perspective of treating individuals with autism spectrum disorders – combine their wealth of knowledge to help parents determine just how much to push their child so they can blossom into adults that thrive. Finding just the right balance between pushing your child to do for self and helping your child too much, is always a challenge but exploring the two hundred ten pages of this book will guide parents to find what works best for their unique child.

Getting stuck in a pattern of indulgence is easy to fall into but difficult to get out of. These wise words from the authors will help parents and professionals lovingly push to prevent, or undo, old patterns and transform them into healthy habits. For those parents who struggle to balance their roles of protector, teacher, coach and cheerleader with that of taskmaster, it’s important to always presume competence in any child and push the envelope just a bit.

Extra inspiration comes from eight individuals on the autism spectrum that share their life experiences. All eight offer valuable learning lessons for pushing and preparing children, teens and young adults for their transition to adult life with realistic preparation for the workforce. You will find a common thread running through these narratives such as the importance of support – especially that of a mentor, identifying and working with a child’s interests, stretching a child’s mindset to see the big picture, and staying positive, to name a few.

I like the fact that the stories presented in this book are revisited throughout and used as examples to illustrate and explain pushing strategies and approaches in every chapter. This makes the concepts come alive and easier to replicate but parents must always be mindful that their child is one-of-a-kind and should customize their approach accordingly.

The highlight for me is found in Chapter 6 – Danger Ahead: Compulsive Gaming and Media Recluses. I have talked to too many parents who ask for advice on how to get their child off the computer and away from video games. Unfortunately, the ASD population – especially males, are extremely vulnerable to being sucked into and addicted to the entertainment aspects of screen machines. Dr. Grandin and Dr. Moore do an excellent job presenting the pros and cons of gaming. The pushing strategies they offer will not only help prevent overuse of screen machines but will also guide any parent of a compulsive gamer to slowly unplug their child and maintain healthy use.

Finding the best way to motivate your children without unknowingly discouraging them can be tricky. Every parent wants their child to reach their greatest potential and finding the best pushing technique for each child, one that is, as Goldilocks might say, “not too easy, not too tough, but just right”, is what this book will help you discover.


To get your copy of The Loving Push at a discounted rate, simply click here to get to the Future Horizons website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box upon check out to receive your 15% discount and enjoy!

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Jed_Baker_-_Overcoming_Anxiety_FINALOvercoming Anxiety in Children and Teens by Dr. Jed Baker stands out from other books written about anxiety in children. It is similar in that it presents many of the same strategies for dealing with anxiety, such as gradual exposure, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and relaxation but it differs in that the author is focused on helping the reader “win over” kids and teens. Dr. Baker provides specific wording, language and scripts that are more likely to motivate a child to engage in the process of learning to manage their own anxiety. Strategies are great but if a child does not buy into them, they will have very little impact on creating change.

Dr. Jed Baker addresses a long list of fears and phobias – reserving one chapter for each, including selective mutism, school refusal, panic disorder, perfectionism, and more. The author even has a chapter that addresses ways to adapt treatment for children on the autism spectrum that are not very verbal.

The case studies presented to discuss each fear or phobia, provide great real life examples of fear-based situations and serve as evidence indicators that overcoming any of these anxieties is possible.

This book is very parent-friendly because the information is very specific, practical and easy to implement. I work with parents on a daily basis and many are not aware of the power they have to create change in their child’s lives. In this very user-friendly book, Dr Baker empowers parents to do what they can to help their child overcome their anxiety rather then always look to an expert to intervene.

Whether or not a child sees someone professionally or not, once these approaches are repeated and reinforced enough by a parent, empowerment is easily transferred to the child so they can take charge of their own anxiety – the ultimate goal.

This book is a great addition to Dr. Baker’s six other books – Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Aspergers Syndrome and Social Communication ProblemsPreparing for Life: The Complete Handbook for the Transition to Adulthood for Those with Autism and Aspergers SyndromeThe Social Skills Picture BookThe Social Skills Picture Book for High School and Beyond; No More Meltdowns: Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out-of-Control Behavior (including a user-friendly app); and No More Victims: Protecting those with Autism from Cyber Bullying, Internet Predators, and Scams.

To get your copy of Dr. Jed Baker’s wonderful new book at a discounted rate, simply click here to get to the Future Horizons website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box when checking out to receive your 15% discount and enjoy!

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Seven Simple Life Rules for Kids with ASD

Temple Did It!Every child has obstacles to overcome, some more than others, but they can be tackled. Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are no different, they can learn how to cope with, compensate for and manage their challenges as well. This inspiring story based on the life of Dr. Temple Grandin, as told by author, Jennifer Gilpin-Yacio, presents a hopeful message that can instill a positive outlook and can-do attitude in any reader.

It’s always easier to relate to someone who has walked in your shoes and understands what it’s like to be labeled with autism. Being made fun of, having no friends and being bullied is never fun for anyone. Situations such as these can lower a child’s self-confidence but the role modeling this book provides can counteract that. The reader will think, “If Temple (who has ASD) did it, so can I”. This type of story has always had the ability to instill the motivation to catalyze change and transform lives.

This is a very unique first publication for Jennifer Gilpin Yacio, president of Sensory World and editor-in-chief of Sensory Focus Magazine. For children who want to know how to be different – in a different way – this book can actually coach individuals on the autism spectrum how to do that. The seven strategies the author presents were generated with input from her collaborator, Dr. Temple Grandin, and are based on her personal life experiences as a person growing up with ASD.

This is a useful how-to guide for individuals on, or off, the autism spectrum – a guide on how to do, and be, your best. These rules help the reader identify passions and enhance talents, in addition to validating self and building confidence. The reader will learn why effort outweighs the pursuit for perfection and how it results in increased competence. All in all, these seven sage pieces of advice will encourage a love for life-long learning and an enthusiasm for life – all of which accelerate the long-term goal of independence.

The illustrations within this adorable children’s book are crafted by the talented Lynda Farrington Wilson and are fun, child-like and enticing – all sixteen of them will easily draw the attention of any child, especially the visual mind of a child with ASD.

Another wonderful component of this book is how the author makes it interactive with a simple activity that takes the reader one step closer to putting the seven strategies into practice. There is a simple two-page worksheet at the end that will guide any child through the process of working towards a goal using Dr Temple Grandin’s “life rules” as she refers to them. This hands-on exercise provides the powerful message that any ASD child has the ability to create change in his or her life, and when completed with the help of a parent or guardian, the child not only feels supported and empowered, but the activity strengthens the bond between them as well.

This book is much, much more than a story for children with autism. The ideas and strategies submitted within these twenty-three pages can apply to any other child growing up in today’s complicated world. Any book that provides entertainment, encourages reading, promotes goal-setting, inspires positive change, AND offers a guide for real life practice, is a must-have addition to everyone’s bookshelf.

To purchase copies of this wonderful children’s book by Jennifer Gilpin Yacio at a discount, simply click here to get to the Sensory World website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box when checking out to receive 15% off your purchase and enjoy!

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All of Dr. Temple Grandin’s books provide such useful information for anyone who is directly or indirectly affected buy an autism spectrum disorder. She has so much insight to offer and each of her books presents it from such a unique perspective.

autismI have read most of Dr. Grandin’s books and I must say that this Revised and Expanded 3rd EDITION of The Way I See It is the best collection of her articles, interviews and discussions yet. This volume addresses the issues parents, teachers and other caretakers face in caring for a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The unique aspect of this book is that all the content is presented from the perspective of someone who has ‘been there’ and ‘done that’. It is another evidence indicator that despite the fact that autism is a challenge, it can be dealt with and mastered. Dr Grandin shares her personal experiences as a guide to what worked for her in order to overcome the temporary roadblock that autism presented her.

This volume is such a broad compilation of practical information for individuals on the autism spectrum and their caretakers. The topics included span the developmental lifetime of a child from early diagnosis and intervention on to the adult years and the issues faced regarding this transition, such as driving a car and gaining employment.

The extensive range of subject matter between the covers of this book is cleverly sorted into categories that are easy to find via the Table of Contents and it’s twenty-nine page Index. In addition, there are many bonuses interspersed between the 433 pages of this expanded edition and they include the following:

  • updated content in the introduction of each section,
  • twelve new chapters, and
  • up-to-date brain research and therapies as they relate to individuals with autism.

Another unexpected bonus that I thoroughly enjoyed was the inclusion of personal photos of Dr. Grandin. My two favorites are the ones of her as a young child on page one hundred seventy-four where she is reading a book with (who I assume to be) her mother and the one on page two in what appears to be a school picture of her in pigtails. Priceless!

This book not only helps individuals with autism feel understood but it also opens the eyes of those not on the autism spectrum and provides them with an discerning understanding of individuals on the spectrum. This type of awareness is so important to raise among the general population that are still not touched by autism. But it is only a matter of time before most people will know of, or meet up with, an individual impacted by autism. So why not speed up the process of educating them before they are faced with teaching, working and interacting with, or hiring a person with ASD by handing them a copy of this outstanding book? This is such a wonderful crash course in Autism Spectrum Disorders for those who don’t yet understand and as Dr. Tony Attwood states in the last paragraph of his Foreward, “Temple has a phenomenal and encyclopaedic knowledge of ASDs, and, in reading The Way I See It, you will see autism the way it is.”

Thank you once again Dr. Temple Grandin for helping people ‘see’ more clearly and increasing the awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders! Now we just have to get this insightful information into the hands of those that need it most.

To access a copy of this wonderful new edition from Dr. Temple Grandin at a discount simply click here to get to the Future Horizons website. Then use my code PARENTCOACH in the coupon code box when checking out to receive your 15% discount and enjoy!

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