Review by Maureen Bennie
Director, Autism Awareness Centre Inc.
Review of The Out of Sync Child Has Fun
Carol Kranowitz, a former preschool teacher, made us aware of sensory integration dysfunction in children in her first book The Out Of Sync Child. After the success of that book, she then came up with hands-on ideas to help with sensory integration dysfunction. The result is The Out of Sync Child Has Fun, packed with interactive games and activities to help integrate the sensory system for children ages 3 to 12.
If you haven’t read the first book or need a reminder of what sensory dysfunction is, Ms. Kranowitz devotes the first chapter to what it is, the types of dysfunction, and what SAFE activities are. SAFE stands for S= sensory motor, A= appropriate, F= fun and E= easy. All of the activities in the book follow the SAFE principle. There are no expensive materials to buy and the materials are easy to make, some requiring basic sewing, cooking or carpentry skills.
Each activity includes the following information: developmental age which is not the same as chronological age, a list of materials needed, what to prepare, what you can do as an adult in the activity, what the child can do (these are suggestions only), how to vary the activity, the benefits of SAFE activities, coping skills if the child is having difficulty and needs your help, and sometimes there are tips from mothers and what they have tried.
Ms. Kranowitz also outlines the do’s and don’ts of the program to ensure success. Her suggestions such as incorporating the child’s interests, do activities outdoors whenever possible, begin where the child is developmentally, and letting the child “do” are all common sense ideas, but it is surprising how often we stray from these basics for success. Another group of easy tips are called the Seven Drops, again common sense but good reminders. For example, drop your voice even when the child is loud, drop your body and get down on the physical level of the child, and drop the batteries – put away those electronic toys and gadgets and let children use their bodies.
The SAFE activities are organized into two groups: sensory systems which encompass touch, balance and movement, body position, seeing, hearing and smelling/tasting and sensory related skills comprised of oral motor, motor planning, fine motor skills, and bilateral coordination.
Because this book is well laid out and easy to follow, anyone can use this resource effectively such as educators, occupational therapists, educational assistants, speech pathologists, therapists, and parents. One great idea is to leave a copy of this book inside a teacher’s desk for a substitute teacher because there are so many mini lesson plans within the book. The SAFE activities are also fully inclusive and can be enjoyed by all children. There is an excellent cross-reference chart in the appendix which lists each activity, what sensory systems are involved, and what age they are suitable for. The glossary of terms, recommended materials, suggested books, and websites are helpful too.
The Out of Sync Child Has Fun is a timeless classic that will provide years of activities as the child grows. Because of the flexibility of these simple activities, one can increase the level of difficulty as the child develops. No resource library is complete without this affordable and user friendly book.