Dr. Roya Ostovar, Interview and Book Giveaway

I am very excited to be hosting Dr. Roya Ostovar, author of The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder on HLW3B today. Dr. Ostovar is a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Director of Ostovar Pediatric Psychology and Consultation in Belmont, Massachusetts (http://www.royaostovar.com/).

Her new book, The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder, provides much needed information on everything from the direction of new research to practical solutions for taking your sensational child on vacation – and, I am not kidding when I say this, virtually everything in between.

I am sure you are not surprised to hear that I jumped at the chance to ask Dr. Ostovar more about Sensory Processing Disorder. Truly, how often do you get the chance to go straight to the doctor with your questions – no appointments, no co-pays, no nurses, no screening, no assessments– just straight to the doctor?! This was an opportunity I could NOT say no to!

I was also happy to find out that Dr. Ostovar was willing to give an autographed copy of her book to one of my readers. Check out the bottom of the interview for details on how you could be the lucky winner!

And with that, grab your coffee, and let’s start the show.


Please welcome Dr. Roya Ostovar to HLW3B – thanks for taking the time to talk with me and my readers!

Hello Hartley. First, I’d like to thank you and your readers for the invitation and opportunity to discuss this very important, current, and critical issue. Yours is such an informed and knowledgeable audience on this topic that I really look forward to hearing everyone’s feedback on my book and the information I have provided.

Thank you – I am always impressed by my readers’ knowledge and enthusiasm! I have had the great pleasure of reading your book and love that it offers such a comprehensive look at Sensory Processing Disorder, especially the examples of children in your private practice. Tell me about how you got into working with kids with Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism.

I have been serving children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) for about 20 years now. However, I formally became educated and made a commitment to this field in 1997, when I enrolled in a post-doctoral fellowship program in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities at the UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital. Since then I have completely dedicated my work and practice to understanding and helping kids with various developmental issues, particularly Autism and SPD.

How did that experience turn into a book?

I felt compelled to write the book and share my knowledge and experiences with educators and other clinicians, in particular. It was truly heartbreaking to see kids who had either not been diagnosed at all or who had been misdiagnosed and had been given the wrong treatment plan that they were supposedly “not responding well to.”

Just to give your readers an overview of what I do, a large part of my work involves diagnostic evaluations of children, birth to young adults. I have a particular interest and expertise in the diagnosis of very young kids as well as those kids labeled as “difficult to test and diagnose.” So, over the years, I have been able to identify differentiate SPD from the various look a like disorders and in doing so have gained a tremendous amount of experience on this topic. Because I also run a school and a camp for children with ASD and SPD and consult to various schools I have very hands on knowledge on what works and what does not work in practice.

Because the book is not a theoretical one, based on ideas that look great on paper, but have no practical application, I thought it may be welcomed by readers. Chapter6: How to help create a sensory -friendly classroom, for example, is based on my years of experience of actually doing just that, and learning first hand and by trial and error.

I really connected to the section on stress – how all information comes into our bodies as stress – and for our kids that input is just more stress on an already over-stressed system. Will you tell us briefly about how stress affects the overall functioning of our children?

This is a completely new idea in the field of SPD, at least as far as I know. I thought about SPD as a form of stress because after working with kids with this disorder for so many years, it occurred to me that they are, in essence, functioning much like an individual with chronic stress. This is especially true of the kids who easily get over-stimulated and experience all incoming sensory information in an amplified way.

Stress, of any form, takes a toll on one’s system, it is exhausting, and it interferes with all areas of functioning. It is almost like being in the fight or flight mode all the time, having to be alert, hyper-vigilant, and aware at all times. There may be increased arousal and an inability to fully calm down and relax because of the chronic psychological distress. There has to be constant planning and anticipation of what may be coming up. Just so that everyone can relate to this, think of SPD as a variation on and an exaggeration of a universal condition. We have all been there at one time or another, but the intensity and frequency is different in SPD.

Everyone I know struggles with the question, “Is it sensory or is it behavior?” What tips do you have for us parents that will help us determine when our children are just being kids and when the behavior is really a sensory reaction they cannot control?

This is an important question and I have tried to answer it both directly and by using case examples throughout the book. Essentially, parents and caregivers have to think much like a detective, and try to figure out the cause of a behavior. Behavior is a form of communication. “ What is my child trying to tell me with their behavior?,” parents must ask. Once you have “detected” the cause of the behavior, you can distinguish sensory vs. behavior problems. A quick general tip is to look for sensory causes for any of the problem behaviors that “appear out of nowhere.”

There is a comprehensive list of resources in your book, as well as a great developmental check list and a sample developmental history form, all of which will greatly benefit parents of special kiddos like mine. For new parents just attempting to answer the question, “What is going on with my kid?” this can all be very overwhelming. Where do you suggest they start?

Chapter 5 of the book walks parents step-by-step through this process and simplifies what feels so overwhelming initially for many parents. But, briefly, make a list of your concerns and share them with a health service provider. Parents know more about their kids than anyone else, so don’t give up or feel embarrassed if the first person tells you it’s nothing. If you truly feel that something is not right persist until someone is willing to listen and help.

Tell us where we can buy your book – and about any upcoming events or special projects you have going on. Also, for all my readers in Massachusetts, where can they learn more about your practice?

The book is now available online and in bookstores. It can be ordered directly from Future Horizons at http://www.sensoryworld.com/ or purchased at Amazon.com, Borders and Barnes and Noble stores (both online and in stores). All the news and information about my practice and upcoming events is available at http://www.royaostovar.com/.

Thanks again Roya for taking the time to talk with us here at HLW3B. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from you and have truly enjoyed reading your book, The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder.

It was my pleasure. Thank you very much for this great opportunity.

Now for the free part!

Dr. Ostovar is giving away an autographed copy of The Ulimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder to one lucky HLW3B reader.

Here is how you can win:

1. You will need to follow this blog (publicly through Google located on the top of the right column) and

2. Post a comment -- it can be anything you like; a compliment or comment for Dr. Ostovar, or feedback on the book (if you have already read it!). Whatever it is, write it down! :)

OK, once you have joined and commented, you are officially entered.

The contest will run from Thursday 4/08/10 to Tuesday 4/13/10 and will end at 10pm PST. The winner will be selected by random drawing, and posted here the next day, 4/14/10. You need to check back to win -- if you do not respond, a new winner will be drawn.

I sincerely wish you all the best of luck -- as no matter how far along in your SPD journey you are, this book truly offers a great perspective and a 'brush up' on your skills.


Patty O. said...

Wow, this interview was great. Dr. O's comments resonated with me greatly. For years I have considered myself a kind of detective, searching for answers to why my son reacts a certain way. Luckily, all the investigation has paid off.

Also, I like what she says about stress. It makes total sense that our kids are completely stressed out. I mean, when I get overstimulated I feel very stressed. Imagine feeling that way much of the time.

I did receive your book and LOVE it. I plan on writing a review on my blog this week sometime (hopefully). Stop by and check it out. Thank you so much for it!

The Gaf said...

I'm glad to see more and more coming out about this issue. Looks like a great book.

Jennifer said...

I am such a book person and every time I hear that a new book has come out on the subject of SPD, I am all about it! This book sounds great and I can't wait to read it!!

Kelly said...

Any time I can read a book on SPD is another chance for me to learn. I still have my days where I just cant wrap my head around it all. Thanks!

Megan said...

Alex was diagnosed with SPD when he was 2 and at the time there was a very limited number of books out on the subject. It is great to know more and more studies are being done on SPD.

I can't wait to read this book and get more ideas and advice on SPD and my child.

Jodi said...

Incredible, both my daughters have SPD. I see the stress in my oldest a great deal. I have often wondered about this and it is great that someone is out there persuing this for us. Thanks Dr. O I look forward to reading and studing your book.

Heather B said...

I am always looking for new information regarding SPD - not only for myself but for the multitude of families that I work with. Anything that can be used practically jumps right to the top of my list. Thanks Hartley for sharing this interview as well as this book with us! I look forward to reading it:)

Carrie Fannin said...

Thanks Hartley for another great interview! Carrie Fannin, Sensory Planet

Kristin C. said...

I am excited every time a book or article comes out about SPD! Dr. O's book looks wonderful and insightful. I will definitely add it to my library of resource materials for my SPD support group.

Laura said...

I learned about SPD 3 years ago when my then 2 year old was diagnosed. By learning about it, I am conviced my 14 year old also shows signs that were never addressed. Amazing how far SPD has come. Thanks for raising awareness.

Nicole said...

I am always interested in hearing more. My 3 year old was diagnosed this year with SPD. I can't wait to read this book. Every day is an adventure with SPD.

Hartley said...

Hi Nicole,

Thanks for commenting -- if you want to be entered into the contest, you need to be a follower of this blog. Really simple, just click the button that says "follow" on the top right. I would love to have you join me -- and can't wait to learn more about your little one!


Melissa Reiner said...

Thank you for all the hard work you put into SPD! You are a great source of information for our family!! I can not wait to get my hands on this book =)

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Thanks for this terrific interview with Dr. Ostovar. What an impressive background she has. So glad she has written a book about SPD. I hope it will spread awareness.
My son has Asperger's and has always had sensory issues, since he was a baby.
I would love a chance to win her book! Thanks!

Cristine said...

Thank you for sharing this great interview. I will definitely be sharing it on our blog as well as sharing the book with our community. I post blogs about communication wellness and awareness on http://www.myspeechtherapycenter.com. Feel free to visit our site for free parent resources!

Martianne said...

I follow. I loved the itnerview and I would find this book so very helpful to have on my resource shelf, both for me and to share with others. Thanks for the opp.

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