With the new school year starting for my daughter, I knew I wanted to be prepared. I wanted her teacher(s) prepared and I wanted her classmates prepared. So I searched high and low for all the information that I could that was teacher and child friendly on Sensory Processing Disorder. I found a lot of great things, but hands down the best tool that I found was the book “This is Gabriel, Making Sense of School” written by Hartley Steiner
I emailed her teacher to set up a time that I could read the book to her class. I told Shelby that I would be coming and talking about SPD and helping her friends understand it. This kind of set Shelby into panic mode. She instantly was worried about what others would think and how others would react. My husband and I explained to her that no one in her class would know that the book was about her, I would just be reading a story to the class and helping them learn the big words and about their senses. And that while she has SPD, no one in her class would know unless she told them.
The morning of the story time came. Shelby was bouncing off the walls with her anxiety. She had to take a few items with her to school to help herself remain calm, but she went. She greeted me at the door when I came to read the story. The teacher quickly organized the room full of kindergarteners on the circle time mat and I took my seat to read the children the story.
I first asked them how many senses they had? No one really knew, so we started listing them, the kids gave me taste, touch, sight, sound and smell. We started discussing how we used those. And then I brought up proprioception and and vestibular. The kids had no idea what I was talking about so we ‘tried’ to find these senses on our bodies. We spun in circles and jumped and we were able to find out the meaning of these senses.
We then read the story…
The children were so excited to not only hear the fun story and see the awesome pictures and understand a little bit more about how people can be ‘different’.
BUT for the first time EVER I saw my daughter PROUD of her SPD!!!! She loved knowing that “This is Gabriel…” is basically about her too, she loved telling her friends about the whys and how comes of how SPD effects her. For example she said “That’s why I get to stand up when we write our letters” or “that’s why my shirt sleeve is wet” etc. SHE WAS PROUD to be HER!!!! It brought so much joy to me to see that for ONCE she wasn’t embarrassed about being ‘different’. She was enjoying every second of it.
We taught her classmates the words proprioception and vestibular and ‘showed’ them what those senses were etc. The kids LOVED it. They were so accepting of ALL OF IT and it literally brought tears not only to my eyes but to the eyes of her teacher and also the aid in the room.
And all it took was a story….
So to the author THANK YOU!!!! Thank you so much for writing this amazing book and for sharing Gabriel’s story so that parents/families/children can help others understand more about their ‘quirks’ . But mostly THANK YOU for giving us this story so that I could FINALLY see my baby girl proud of herself.
THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart… there is NO way that I can EVER repay you.. THANK YOU!!!!