Why Your Kid Needs to Wiggle, Stomp & Squeeze!
Today's blog is written by Lindsey Rowe Parker, author of the award-winning book about sensory differences, Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down.
March 21st begins Neurodiversity Celebration Week! A worldwide initiative dedicated to breaking down the societal stigma and general misconceptions about neurological differences like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other learning disabilities.
Sensory processing differences are often seen alongside these diagnoses, and neurodivergent people are more likely to have sensory difficulties. But anyone, neurodivergent and neurotypical people alike, can have difficulties with their sensory system.
1 in 6 children struggles daily with sensory processing challenges. You probably know one or two. Maybe it is even you!
Now, this may blow your mind. We have 8 senses. Not 5.
We all know the 5 senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. The three lesser-known senses are Vestibular, Proprioception and Interoception. These may sound confusing —but you feel them every day!
Interoception is the sense of what is going on inside our bodies, if we feel hungry, thirsty or have to go to the bathroom. Our vestibular sense is what catches you when you fall, the feeling of spinning around in a circle, or rocking a baby to sleep. Your proprioception helps you know where your body is in space. Try stomping your feet or giving yourself a big hug!
Sensory processing refers to the mechanisms of how we feel. It is how we use what we sense to make sense of the world around us, and it underpins every aspect of human functioning.
Everyone processes sensation. The sensory messages we receive from our bodies and the world around us are responded to in every single thing we do in life.
This can sometimes look like behavioral challenges, when in fact it is related to how we are processing the world around us. Every person is affected by their brain’s ability to properly process information from all of these senses to make sense of their world.
Sometimes it is easy for us to self-regulate, and sometimes we can struggle. Learning to identify the areas and sensory inputs that we need support with as individuals helps us find ways to regulate our bodies and emotions.
Whoa, how do you explain that to a kid?
We all feel sensory input differently — but it's hard to imagine what it’s like living in the body of people with experiences different than our own.
Picture books are a powerful tool to allow readers to learn about things that are intangible or inaccessible in a way that feels approachable and fun!
Kids' books that explore sensory differences are a great way for kids to find the language they need to express how they're feeling better and understand themselves.
As a neurodivergent author, raising neurodivergent kids I have been in the trenches of the unknown, floundering for ways to support my kids and learning about my own sensory needs in the process. From the first inkling that something was different, to diagnosis, to finding the right supports for my kids, I have learned it is a marathon and not a sprint.
There were sensory preferences that I had as a child that I thought were weird or strange, not like other people I knew. Through pediatric occupational therapies with my kiddos, I have a greater understanding of not only some of their sensory needs, but my own. It’s like a light bulb went on, and I thought ‘Oh wow, now I get it.’
Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down is written from my own sensory experiences, and now also as a mother learning how to provide sensory input to meet the needs of my kids. But I think this story applies to many kids and adults that are looking for that sensory input, which they themselves may not have a name for.
Why create a more inclusive library, school, or bookshelf at home?
It’s important to show children that people experience the world differently. To teach openness and acceptance.
Making storytime inclusive of all students means picking books with main characters from different cultures and family structures, as well as those with disabilities. This is a great place to start for parents and educators wanting to better understand and support neurodivergent kids, and those with sensory needs.
Addressing these differences from a place of understanding and compassion empowers kids with sensory differences to help them feel seen, known, and loved — just as they are.
About the Author
Lindsey Rowe Parker is a mom at the tail-end of toddlerhood, embracing the next phase of parenting while learning to navigate and advocate for her autistic daughter. With a recent adult diagnosis of ADHD, and a new deeper understanding of her own sensory experiences, she has begun to delve into the neurodiversity community learning all she can from neurodivergent voices.
She is the author of the award-winning book about sensory differences, Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down and she hopes it connects with everyone who has felt the need for a wiggle, stomp or squeeze! The book is illustrated by autistic author Rebecca Burgess.
Lindsey is also the creator of the #SensoryStories campaign that brings together authors, illustrators, educators, and advocates to raise awareness of sensory differences during Sensory Awareness Month in October. The aim is to increase mainstream understanding of the importance of sensory integration and processing.
Visit her at wigglesstompsandsqueezes.com and connect with her on social media at:Instagram instagram.com/wigglesstompsandsqueezes/