Is Your Child "Under-responsive"?

I am working on a new book that highlights the stories of families raising a child with SPD through personal essays written by the parents. My publisher wants me to add more stories from families who are raising a child who is under-responsive.

Sensory Underresponsive is the THIRD type of Sensory Modulation Disorder - with the other two being "Seekers" and "Aoviders" Specifically under-responsive exhibit signs such as - doesn't feel pain, or hot vs. cold, trouble knowing when to use the restroom, doesn't notice hunger, unaware of surroundings, easily exhausted, hard to gain their attention, doesn't notice food left on face, sedentary, not motivated, etc.

I am looking for a parent (or many parents) that would like to write their ‘story’ – and can do so BY NEXT WEEK.

I can forward you guidelines, information, a sample stories, and the release if you are interested. 

Send me an email if you would like to be part of this project - hartleys (at) steinerigroup (dot) com.


9 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Social Skills

I am over at the SPD Blogger Network today talking about how to boost your child's social skills!  Check out my tips to make the most of playdates, role playing and social stories.

Enjoy your week!

Interview and Giveaway with Tracy Anglada - Author and Advoate for Bipolar Children

I was reading a blog post the other day that I found through the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Association (CABF) by Tracy Anglada and it struck me -- hard.  I think the simple fact that this woman was raising 4 children, two of which were diagnosed with Bipolar was pretty amazing -- but when I read that her children inspired her to write a book about Bipolar, I knew we had something special in common.

When Tracy heard her children's diagnosis, like so many of us, she wanted a book to explain the illness to her then 7 year old son. That was not available in 2000 - neither was a book for siblings, a book for teachers, or a book that gave these kids a voice.

So she wrote them.

Tracy is the author of Brandon and the Bipolar Bear (also available in Spanish), Turbo Max, The Childhood Bipolar Answer Book, SWIVEL to Success (Bipolar Kids in the Classroom), as well as Intense Minds:  Through the Eyes of Kids With Bipolar Disorder and all of her books can be found on her website.

Tracy says, "That sad state of affairs lit a fire inside of me that would begin what has turned into a decade of advocacy. I'm proud to say that today mothers who are faced with the same news I was ten years ago have far more resources available to them. I'm happy to have been a part of that but I also hope that new advocates will still feel the same fire I did and make a difference for future generations."

As a mom, writer, author and advocate for my own children -- I knew that I needed to talk with Tracy to learn more about her, her family and Bipolar Disorder.  And lucky for me, she agreed.  She even agreed to give away a copy of TRHEE of her books -- Brandon and the Bipolar Bear and Intense Minds and SWIVEL to Success.  (Boy do I wish I could win this one!).

So, for those of you who are parenting, teaching or caring for a child like Gabriel -- with many labels, including Bipolar Disorder -- this one is for you.


Hi Tracy! Thank you for joining me here on HLW3B. Can you start by telling us a little about you and your family?

Thank you for having me! I’m the mother of four children – three busy boys and one beautiful daughter. My children range in age from 8 to 18 years old. After two of my children were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I realized how many resources were desperately needed to help kids with bipolar disorder and to help others understand them. I have spent the last decade helping to create resources for my own children and for others who would benefit from them. That has led to the writing of 5 books, numerous essays, articles, brochures, newsletters and to the creation of the BPChildren website.

How did you know your child was Bipolar? What are some of the early warning signs?

My son experienced his first major depressive episode at the age of 6. It is devastating to watch someone at that tender age go through such a difficult time. While we could clearly see that he was suffering from depression, we did not realize that this was the beginnings of the same illness that had plagued 2 previous generations in his family. While he certainly had some difficulties prior to this time, it was this first depressive episode that made us realize that he needed help. Later, I learned that up to a third of children who have depression may actually be experiencing the onset of bipolar disorder. Other early warning signs include anxiety, poor attention span, excitability, changing moods, numerous physical complaints without obvious cause and difficulty in school. Of course, not every child with these difficulties will go on to develop bipolar disorder, however, these warning signs coupled with a family history of bipolar disorder should prompt a parent to be watchful in case symptoms progress and to seek professional help when needed.

Interview and Giveaway with Dr. Roya Ostovar (The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder)

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 (

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's publisher, Future Horizons, was willing to give away TWO FREE COPIES of her book. Check out the bottom of the interview for details on how you could be a 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.”

Reduced Stress Easter (for kids and parents!)

I am over at the SPD Blogger Network today talking about how to reduce Easter stress for your kids - and yourself!  Check out my tips on filling your child's basket, making breakfast, and dressing them for happiness.

Hope you have some sun in your neck of the woods!

POST REWIND: What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Recently I have seen a rise in the number of articles, Facebook posts, and even tweets claiming to define what Sensory Processing Disorder is. This should be good news, and it is -- mostly.  But, some of them are full of misinformation.

Although I am thankful that anyone wants to help spread awareness, it frustrates me personally that these people could very well be doing more harm than good. I have dedicated such a large portion of my life to spreading awareness that will hopefully benefit kids like mine all over our country and arguably the world, that I would really like to see people get good, solid and accurate information. Wouldn’t you?

It is with that goal in mind – the goal to educate and help – that I am taking my personal stab at answering the increasingly popular question, “What is Sensory Processing Disorder?”  My answer, and this article, will be specifically geared towards helping parents with SPD kids prepare a response for the dozens of strangers (and even family members) who might stare or judge us every day.  We are on the front lines of this disorder, and I believe have the highest stake in making sure that the message being sent about Sensory Processing Disorder is complete and accurate.

Now, I’d like to start with a few myth busting points before we go any deeper so we can all start fresh.

SPD is on the Autism Spectrum” or “SPD is a mild form of Autism” – FALSE. Although a significant portion of kids with ASD do have sensory issues (estimates range as high as 85%), the opposite is not true. Many children with SPD do not have ASD. So, to recap, SPD is NOT on the Autism Spectrum.

They are trying to get SPD added to the Autism Spectrum in the DSM” -- FALSE. The work being spearheaded by the SPD Foundation and Dr. Lucy Jane Miler is to get SPD recognized as a ‘stand alone disorder’ in the DSM-IV. You can find more info on their site by clicking here.

SPD just means that a child doesn’t like loud noises” – FALSE. SPD is not just a single symptom, nor is it about 'sensory preferences'.  Children with SPD have sensory differences severe enough to affect their social and academic development.  It is much more complex than 'not liking loud noises'.  And, although children with SPD can avoid sensory input, they can also seek sensory input.

SPD is the new ADD” – FALSE. I am not going to combat the theory that we as a country (or society in general) have become increasingly consumed by labels, because I agree.  However, I would like to say for the record, Sensory Processing Disorder is real.  Just ask any of the thousands of families that read my blog every month, this is a true health issue that needs to be recognized so that these children and families can get the help they need.

SPD affects all 5 senses” -- INACCURATE. This is probably my biggest pet peeve. We have 8 senses – EIGHT SENSES!! Touch, Taste, Smell, Hearing, Sight, Vestibular, Proprioception and Interoception. If you are reading anything (blog, tweet, Facebook, article, newspaper, etc) and they say that SPD affects 5 senses – STOP reading. If they do not know at a minimum that there are 8 senses, this person is not an expert.

Now, let’s get to a real and workable definition.

How Did You Know It Wasn't 'Just' SPD?

I receive letters a lot from other moms who are going through what I have been through – and am still going through. Diagnosis, confusion, questioning, school issues – you name it.

But I got one this last week that surprised me.

Remember the Oprah thing? You know, how Oprah had a boy on her show with a mental illness, and because of the way the show was taped/cut it made it seem like this child’s behavior – aggressive, dangerous, and out of control – was all due to Sensory Processing Disorder?

Yeah, that one.

There were so many responses from parents who were terrified that their child’s SPD was going to turn into – that.

But this letter was a little different. Here is what it said,

To be honest when I saw the recent show on Oprah, I was excited about it. I could see my child in the little boy on the show, especially her rages and thought this is so great! Finally I can show my family and friends what SPD is. Then the next day on blogs and forums I started reading about how upset people were about the miss representation of SPD and that the boy clearly had other things going on. This has lead me to be confused when it comes to my child.

That threw me for a loop.

What about families like mine – who had a diagnosis of SPD, but clearly there was more going on. What about them?

I am concerned that there are people who need to keep seeking help for their children – even after a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. And for that reason, I am reprinting my letter back to her.

Her question, “I have read/heard you talk about your son Gabriel, and how his first diagnosis was SPD. And that he later received other diagnosis as well. When you describe him, I recognize lots of the same traits in my child (4 1/2 years old). My Question is; when did you get the other diagnosis or how did you know it wasn’t “just” SPD?

My response ........

It's Not a Joke!

Happy April Fool's Day!

And more importantly, Happy Autism Awareness Month.

I am over at the SPD Blogger Network today, with my interview with Dr. Roya Ostovar talking about Sensory Friendly Classrooms - what better way to spread awareness of Autism then by asking our schools to become sensory friendly?  I know, genius. 

I also was nominated for an award.

Really, it isn't a joke!  I was nominated for a Circle of Mom 25 Most Inspiring Families award!  How cool is that?

A big fat thank you to whomever nominated me - so cool of you!

So happy April - hope no one plays a joke on you - but if they do, I want to hear about it. LOL