Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Review: Building Bridges through Sensory Integration (Third Edition)

Building Bridges through Sensory Integration (Third Edition) is a book written by occupational therapists, for occupational therapists, parents and carers. It deals primarily with children with Autism spectrum disorders but includes a lot of material on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) as well.

The book is divided into several sections. The first introduces concepts and covers a lot of interesting theory, in particular, there's a great chapter on how the senses work in co-ordination with each other and how conditions, such as autism, can interrupt that processing.

Apart from the early chapters, this is not a book that you can read "cover to cover" as a lot of material feels very repetitive and too detailed when read this way. For example, there's comprehensive coverage of each of the senses with discussion on how each presents as under-active and over-active. There's also coverage of sensory seeking and sensory blocking behaviours in children. This is followed by information on how to reduce (or increase as necessary) sensory input.

This book is best used as a very handy reference for a variety of senses and situations. It's a book that anyone in OT should keep within easy reach.

The later parts of this book cover specific "everyday" situations of under and over stimulation, such as brushing teeth, combing hair, going to noisy or smelly places and dealing with self-stimulating behaviour.

The book also contains many useful diagrams and worksheets  which can be copied to use in specific situations. There are also rules for games, recipes such as edible play dough and lots of ideas for building/collecting the equipment for various play therapies and useful objects such as "fidget bags".

Overall, this is a great reference which is a "must" for occupational therapists. The amount of benefit that general parents will get from the book will depend largely upon the age of your child (the younger, the better) and the degree and variety of sensory issues that your child displays.

Of course, if your child has a diagnosis of SPD, you should just buy the book- you'll need it.

Building Bridges through Sensory Integration (Third Edition) 
Therapy for Children with Autism and Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders 
Ellen Yack BSc, MEd, OT & Paula Aquilla, BSc, OT & Shirley Sutton, BSc, OT
Published by Sensory World 2015.

Building Bridges through Sensory Integration is available as a large format paperback from Sensory World and as either paperback or Kindle e-Book from Amazon. It's easily the most comprehensive references on dealing with under and over stimulation of the senses.

Honesty clause; I was provided with a copy of Building Bridges for review purposes.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Movie Review: Eagle vs Shark (2007)

Eagle vs Shark is a film which never actually mentions the words "Asperger's syndrome" but is clearly about two individuals with Asperger's meeting and and falling in love. In fact, it takes the whole genetics thing so far that at times, it feels like nearly everyone in the film has it. 

Eagle vs Shark (2007) is a Kiwi (New Zealand) film which is at times very awkward to watch, It's described as a comedy but feels like a comedy/drama/art film.

It's also billed as a film about two unattractive people falling in love with taglines like;
  • "Love is Blind.... Luckily" 
  • "Opposites. Unattractive."
  • "Finding love was never so... Awkward."
  • "There's someone for everyone...apparently"

In a way, I found these taglines somewhat offensive because they concentrate so much on the "unattractiveness" of the main stars instead of on the traits that make them different enough that they find it difficult to find love.

Aspects of Asperger's Syndrome
The two main characters, Jarrod and Lily display a lot of Asperger's traits and like other "awkward" films about characters with Asperger's syndrome (Napoleon Dynamite for example) these traits have been turned up to a "maximum".  The traits and stereotypes in the film are much stronger than you'd find in real life but they're nevertheless fairly common.

 This is particularly apparent in the way that the two characters speak in mostly stunted, closed sentences and rarely follow up on what the other person is saying. Sometimes it feels like they're having separate but similar conversations in the same room. There's also a monotone through their conversation which strips them of nearly all emotion.

Lily's character displays a few other traits, particularly a coping mechanism where she goes down to the local playground and runs in a tube.  There's a lot of general awkwardness and there's a clear lack of social understanding. She's also picked on by her colleagues in the workplace. Lily spends a lot of time in enclosed costumes, with both the shark costume and her sleeping bag being over-used, liking that "wrapped" feeling is a pretty common Asperger's trait.

Jarrod's character shows very low emotional intelligence, he concentrates on his own feelings and completely misses cues from those around him. Everything Jarrod does is self-focussed. His words and actions hurt others but he's mostly blind to the hurt he causes.

Much of Jarrod's story is focussed around him wanting to get revenge on a school bully.  As it turns out, the bully has forgotten everything about the bullying incidents but Jarrod can't let go. Again, this is a very common trait amongst people with Asperger's syndrome.  They can't let go of some things - and they affect them very deeply indeed.  Jarrod's actions are awkward and at times quite shocking but all the more believable because they are. I've met many people with Asperger's syndrome who are exactly like Jarrod. 

Even the background characters, like Lily's brother and Jarrod's friends have a number of Asperger's traits leading you to wonder if the whole town is affected or if it's just that people with Asperger's syndrome tend to attract others who are similar. 

Movie quotes are tossed around casually and there are some great moments where Lily's brother Damon tries to impersonate Arnold Schwartzenegger. 

It's a weird watch but it's worth it. 

Eagle vs Shark is available on Amazon and Google Play and presumably in stores.