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Order in Disorder: Carolyn Dalgliesh on 'The Sensory Child Gets Organized'

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Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Carolyn Dalgliesh.

The author of The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious, or Distracted Kids (Touchstone, $15.99), Ms. Dalgliesh is also the founder and owner of Systems for Sensory Kids and Simple Organizing Strategies, helping sensory families, individuals, and businesses get organized. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and serves on the Board of Governors for Bradley Hospital, a neuropsychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. In addition to her sensory organizing work, Ms. Dalgliesh has published numerous articles and presents regularly at conferences for parents, caregivers, and educators. She makes her home in Rhode Island with her husband and two children.

The Sensory Child Gets Organized was published in September and received an enthusiastic response by both critics and contemporaries. Publishers Weekly praised, “Packed with practical suggestions, the book effectively shows how the home environment can be modified to support the sensory child and make life run more smoothly for the entire family. Parents of sensory kids of all kinds will welcome this positive, useful tome.” Further, Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness and co-author of Driven to Distraction, noted, “A brilliant book. From the opening paragraph and throughout, you know you are in the hands of a master tactician, an expert who knows her stuff cold, and a loving parent who’s been there and back. Hugely practical, chock full of pearls, and written with sweet tenderness, Dalgliesh’s book immediately becomes the go-to book on the subject.”

From the publisher:

Every year, tens of thousands of young children are diagnosed with disorders that make it difficult for them to absorb the external world. Parents of sensory kids—like those with sensory processing disorder, anxiety disorder, AD/HD, autism, bipolar disorder, and OCD—often feel frustrated and overwhelmed, creating stress in everyday life for the whole family. Now, with The Sensory Child Gets Organized, there’s help and hope.

As a professional organizer and parent of a sensory child, Carolyn Dalgliesh knows firsthand the struggles parents face in trying to bring out the best in their rigid, anxious, or distracted children. She provides simple, effective solutions that help these kids thrive at home and in their day-to-day activities, and in this book you’ll learn how to:

- Understand what makes your sensory child tick
- Create harmonious spaces through sensory organizing
- Use structure and routines to connect with your child
- Prepare your child for social and school experiences
- Make travel a successful and fun-filled journey

With The Sensory Child Gets Organized, parents get an easy-to-follow road map to success that makes life easier—and more fun—for your entire family.

Now, Carolyn Dalgliesh helps readers get organized …

1) What was the inspiration for writing this book?

My inspiration for writing “The Sensory Child Gets Organized” was my own personal experience raising my sensory child and the frustration I felt with the lack of practical resources to help us successfully navigate day-to-day experiences. My goal was to fill the gap between essential clinical support and practical in-home solutions for sensory kids and their families. Teaching parents how to use structure, routines, and visual aids will move them towards better communication and more daily connections with their sensory children - a gift for the whole family.

2) How do you think these strategies could translate to helping adults with sensory issues become more organized?

In almost every family I have worked with (mine included), there is a parent living with their own rigid, anxious, or distracted behaviors and this is why Sensory Organizing is so powerful. The universal tools of structure, routines, and visual aids support all of these challenges. Adults with sensory issues or rigid, anxious, or distracted behaviors will feel supported in the same way if they take the time to: 1) Prioritize their needs here and now; 2) Think about ways they can set-up their environment to tap into their strengths and support their challenges; and 3) Create routines and visual aids around challenging times of day or stressful situations. Everyone feels calmer, safer, and more grounded when they have an environment that supports them and a plan of attack in place.

3) What is the target audience for your book? What do you hope those readers will get out of the book?

The target audience for “The Sensory Child Gets Organized” are parents, caregivers, and teachers who are living with, caring for, and educating sensory children ages 3-12. I specifically wanted to help parents support children who are rigid, anxious, or distracted as a result of sensory processing disorder, autism, AD/HD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other sensory-related disorders. Though there are a number of profiles and diagnoses for a “sensory” child in my book, many of the core challenges are similar and, thankfully, Sensory Organizing can provide support for all of these challenges.

4) What recommendations to do you have for getting reluctant family members/teachers/friends on board with these sensory strategies?

Convincing family, friends, and teachers about the power of these strategies most often needs to come from a tangible experience. To me, sensory parenting is about Proactive

Parenting vs. Reactive Parenting - this means that most of your parenting muscle is flexed before an experience in the preparation, structure, and visual aids that helps your sensory child to be successful. My best suggestion would be to invite family, friends, and teachers to see the power of proactive parenting first hand. Have them offer their thoughts on the most challenging task or time of day for your sensory child. Then come up with a routine with a visual aid that supports this challenge that you can share with them. Focus on this one routine, use it consistently, and the challenging task or time of day often gets better. When people experience this first hand, the reluctance usually disappears.

5) What would you say to a reader who says they can't do these strategies because they cost money/my house is too small/my kid wouldn't respond to these changes?

The beautiful thing about Sensory Organizing is that it can be very simple (inexpensive) yet very powerful. When I am doing a Sensory Organizing consult with a family, I go through the whole house to see the space as well as hidden pieces of furniture that can be used for a system. I always encourage families to use what they have first to do a trial run of a new strategy before investing in any new supplies. With small homes, pieces have to do double duty - kitchen table becomes a homework station with a portable caddy and the inside of doors and cabinets hold your Central Message Area or the Morning Routine Schedule. Most sensory kids are desperate to feel some sense of control, a sense of what’s coming. Believe it or not, the most powerful changes in challenging behaviors often come from the smallest supports.


With thanks to Laura Rossi Totten, Principal/Director of Publicity at Laura Rossi Public Relations, for generously providing this Q&A for use on HBE.


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