Reading as an Occupation: What I read in July.

What a productive month of reading! Over the past few months, my book lists have been slim to say the least! I lost my mojo to read for several reasons…busy schedule, fatigue, lack of interest, and sparse options to name a few. Then July happened! It started with new to me releases by some of my favorite authors, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Mary Kubica, and Alex Michaelides. Throw in a mystery from Reese’s Book Club, and my interest in reading was once again sparked for personal reading.

With a spark for personal reading, interest in professional books followed. I came across the book The Reason I Jump and after reading the simple, straightforward question-answer format, I dove into books that were pediatric based. I found the follow-up to The Reason I Jump, Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8, and my interest in books on Sensory Processing Disorder was sparked. To top it off, I accidently found Gabrielle Goldstein’s, You are the Guru, an Audible original recording.

After finishing this month’s haul, I feel refreshed. Reading is my go-to form of self-care and after reading, I feel rejuvenated and informed with material that will also help my occupational therapy practice! My list of personal books were mainly mysteries and a book from a genre that I tend to shy away from, romance. My professional books were pediatric based with a focus on sensory processing disorder and learning.

I hope you are able to find a few reads from this list for your self-care time and professional practice! What have you read this month? Did you read any of the books on this list? What did you think?

Occupational Therapy Practice

Autism

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida

Random House Reprint edition (March 22, 2016)

The thirteen-year-old author of this book invites you, his reader, to imagine a daily life in which your faculty of speech is taken away. Explaining that you’re hungry, or tired, or in pain, is now as beyond your powers as a chat with a friend.” (p. VII)

Getting insight into the lived experience of an autistic individual can provide useful information to better understand the needs of our clients. The question-and-answer format of this small, but mighty book, provided insight into the life and thoughts of Naoki Higashida, a 13-year-old autistic boy. The questions were straightforward as were Higashida’s responses. Some questions I found interesting: When you look at something, what do you see first? Do you enjoy your free time? Why do you repeat certain actions again and again? Do you need visual schedules?

The answers to these questions were helpful in having a concrete response from an autistic individual as to why they perform particular actions or have certain thoughts.  This book was originally written in 2007 and translated in 2013. The level of understanding and support for autistic individuals has grown exponentially since the time this book was originally published. Therefore, it is also interesting to include some of the questions that signify ableism. Questions such as: Why do you speak in that peculiar way? Why are your sleep patterns all messed up? Why can’t you have a proper conversation?

As a therapist that has been practicing for more than 20 years, I remember being part of many multidisciplinary teams that focused on goals that sought to increase eye contact and stop repetitive behaviors. This mindset has changed and some of the questions in this book are ones we can agree to never ask our clients. AOTA recently came out with five more Choosing Wisely®  recommendations to follow, one of which is to not form goals that address certain behaviors in the autistic population unless the meaning of the behavior is understood.

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida

  • Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 26, 2019)
  • “Most people born with special needs lead unseen lives, as if we’re hiding ourselves away. Unfortunately, we are too often kept apart from society at large against our will. This denies us the chance of a meaningful life.” (p.86).

    Fall Down 7 Times Get up 8, is the follow-up to The Reason I Jump. In this new book, Higashida is now 24-years old, and we are provided with an account of his life and views as an autistic adult, with more insight into his 13-year-old self’s responses. In this recent book, Higashida provided his thoughts on his earlier years and his current thought processes with communication and behaviors.  One chapter that I particularly enjoyed was Chapter 38—Lessons in Hindsight. In this chapter, Higashida shared some of his school years, his treatment as an autistic child, and decisions he made while in school. The book contained question-answer sections, essays, and poems to present Higashida’s thoughts and experiences.

    Rating: 4/4. These books were a learning experience on many levels. On one level, the experiences of Higashida provided occupational therapy professionals with the lived experience and world view of the autistic clients we treat. On another level, there were stereotypes in these books, especially The Reason I Jump, that shined a light on where we need to focus as we move forward with how we address the needs of our autistic clients.

    Learning

    The Dominance Factor: How Knowing Your Dominant Eye, Ear, Brain, Hand & Foot Can Improve Your Learning by Carla Hannaford, Ph.D.

    Great River Books; First Edition, First edition (September 23, 2011)

    Have you ever been the first person in a classroom or lecture hall? What seat did you choose? Did you sit on the left or right side? Front of the classroom or the back? What about when there were people in the classroom? Do you sit next to someone or chose a space that had no other people around? Intuitively, we choose to sit in an area where we can learn optimally and if you look at your pattern of where you sat, you will have a good idea of your brain dominance.

    Think about the children we serve in the K-12 population or even adults with a brain injury. That level of intuition is not as strong, and therapists can provide an analysis of brain dominance and interventions to position our clients in the optimal learning position in a classroom or any other community setting.

    The Dominance Factor provides a plan to complete a Dominance Profile to provide learning aids and strategies for the classroom to support learning. This book also provides a clear foundation of neurology to aid with assessment and intervention.

    The Dominance Factor provides a wealth of strategies based on a completed Dominance Profile. For example, if a client is found to have a Dominance Profile A (p. 57), the following strategies are recommended: (1) synthesize information from a whole perspective (2) provide positive, sensory-motor experiences, and (3) provide a balance of art, music, freeform movement, and interpersonal/intrapersoni0al skills with cognitive tasks. This book is well-researched, multidisciplinary, and has concepts that are easy to implement and effective.

    Rating: 4/4. Highly recommend this book to assess the neurological strengths and needs of clients with a clear path to intervention and supports based on brain dominance.

    Sensory Processing Disorder

    When it comes to Sensory Processing Disorder,  evidence-based resources are a therapist’s best friend.   For a concrete thinker (read: not creative), like myself, I need recommendations that are clear and plentiful! As I see more ideas from seasoned clinicians, backed by research, my creativity is stimulated, and I can expand on the information provided.

    While online programs such as Pinterest serves to provide a large volume of treatment ideas, these sources have little in the way of evidence for these strategies or an organized plan to grade the activity. Books such as those listed below, provide not only a wealth of treatment ideas, but there is also information of the evidence to support these strategies. While Pinterest, Facebook, etc. are great for more treatment ideas, starting with a strong foundation from the resources below can allow for a better analysis of the appropriateness of interventions found from online sources. 

    Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow by Carol Kranowitz, MA and Joye Newman, MA

    Tarcher Perigee; 1st edition (May 4, 2010)

    Growing an In-Sync Child, part of the In-Sync series, expands on term definitions, research, and interventions to address the sensory needs of our littlest clients. Kranowitz and Newman are focused on not just the child receiving intervention, they are also focused on the therapist providing the intervention. There are recommendations with how to communicate with clients (Kranowitz & Newman, p.52):

    Instead of This…Say This
    Do it this wayShow me your way to do this
    You are not finished yet.Let’s do it one more time

    Additionally, there is a wealth of activities that can be used to address the sensory needs of our clients.

    Rating: 4/4. Great book to address the sensory needs of clients and methods to be a better therapist. This book addresses the client, therapist, and parent.

    Raising Kids With Sensory Processing Disorders: A Week-by-Week Guide to Helping Your Out-of-Sync Child With Sensory and Self-Regulation Issues by Rondalyn V. Whitney, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA and Varleisha Gibbs, Ph.D., OTD, OTR/L


    ·         Routledge; 2nd edition (November 1, 2020)

    This book is a must for all pediatric occupational therapy practitioners, a must! Having a week-by-week resource is perfect for new therapists that need somewhere to start with sensory activities and seasoned therapists that want to add to their treatment toolbox.

    Raising Kids with Sensory Processing Disorders breaks down interventions into clear areas: Morning Routines, Mealtime Routines, School, Bedtime Routines, Holidays, and Social Participation. Each section has a wealth of activities with grading ideas included. I especially appreciate the Holiday Routines section because the holidays can be a challenging time for families with children with Sensory Processing Disorder or sensory needs.

    Rating: 4/4. A must for all pediatric occupational therapy practitioners!

    The Sensory Processing Diet: One Mom’s Path of Creating Brain, Body and Nutritional Health for Children with SPD by Chynna Laird

    Loving Healing Press (August 17, 2020)

    Rounding out this month’s list is The Sensory Processing Diet: One Mom’s Path of Creating Brain, Body, and Nutritional Health for Children with SPD. The perspective of the parents is one we need to consider when providing intervention that address the sensory systems of our clients. Laird does an excellent job providing not only the parental perspective, she also compiles a strong resource that addresses the sensory needs of children from activities to diet and more.

    Rating: 4/4. This book, from the parent perspective, provide a strong foundation for therapists and caregivers covering activities, interventions, physiology, and much more. 

    Self-care

    You Are the Guru: 6 Messages to Help You Move Through Difficult Times with Certainty and Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein

    Gabrielle Bernstein’s book,  The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith was recommended to me by a friend. The premise of the book is to be confident with your goals and the universe will support you to achieve those goals. After a positive experience with this book, I saw this Audible recording and download it hoping for more inspiration.

    This recording did not disappoint and left me with the tools needed to live my best life in this ever-changing world. This recording was completed during the pandemic; therefore, these recommendations had our current life situation in the background leading to recommendations that are timely and realistic. In short, Bernstein’s the daily recommendations are:  (1) See through the lens of love. (2) Surrender to creative solutions (3) Inspired action clears the path.  (4) In stillness we receive (5) Compassion creates connection. (6) You are the guru.

    Bernstein is not one to sugarcoat her life and her advice included her own journey, which adds a layer of credibility to her recommendations.

    Rating: 3.75/4. Great easy resource to listen to while on walks or when completing tasks. This is about 3 hours of reading, but it will cause a mindset shift in that brief period of listening time.

    The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

    Celadon Books (June 15, 2021)

    One of the best books I read was The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. In an interview, Michaelides stated that it took him years to complete The Silent Patient and the book was a bestseller many times over. Therefore, there was quite a bit of anticipation for his second novel that tells the story of the main character Mariana searching for a killer in her midst.

    Though not as intricate as The Silent Patient, The Maidens was a good read. The plot twist was quite a surprise. The characters had depth yet were easy to follow. There were portions of the story that lacked a certain level of credibility; however it did not take too much away from the plot.

    Rating: 3.5/4. Good follow up to The Silent Patient. Plot twist was a surprise. No regrets from reading this book.

    Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

    Ballantine Books (June 2, 2020)

    A read outside of my genre comfort zone! Romance novels are hit or miss with me. I know for some, this type of genre is always appreciated as a beach read or a way to decompress after a long day. I am not in that category and had to firmly put my “be fair” hat to review this book.

    To be fair, if this is your genre preference, you will enjoy the characters and the plot of this book. The characters are likeable enough, and the plot has many layers that kept my interest until the end. The story follows Evvie in a small town in Maine after the death of her husband. She has a room for rent and gets a special renter with whom she connects in many ways. As with any romance novel, there were some sections that were far from believable, but this is a book of fiction and these areas helped to support the plot.

    Rating: 3/4. This is a great book club read for those that like romance (and those who just like a good story). The characters and plot will provide many points of discussion. Overall, a decent read.

    The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

    Simon & Schuster (May 4, 2021)

    The buildup in this novel to find the missing character was beyond amazing. I was thoroughly impressed with the flow of the story and the way Dave intertwined the various characters in the novel. The story revolves around Hannah who is searching for her missing husband.  This is a real page turner with a lot of likeable characters.  I will not provide any spoilers why the rating was provided.

    Rating: 3/4. Good book. Amazing plot development.

    Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

    Park Row; First Time Trade edition (November 2, 2021)

    A Mary Kubica novel is an automatic read for me. I was excited to have a new novel of hers to read and Local Woman Missing did not disappoint. If Kubica teaches a masterclass on how to write a riveting, grip your chair plot twist, I will be first to sign-up list for that class! She is the mastermind of plot twists.

    As with any Kubica novel, there is a ‘whoa’ moment and I did not see the twist coming at all. Believe me, I tried by paying attention to each character, word, decision, action, and I was still surprised. There are multiple layers to this story. The general plot revolves around finding a young girl that went missing about 11 years ago and Kubica spins quite the web in search of this girl.

    Rating: 3.75/4. Classic Kubica. Complex characters, multilayered plot, and gripping plot twist.

    Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Ballantine Books (June 1, 2021)

    A Taylor Jenkins Reid novel is another automatic read for me. Reid is an amazing storyteller. I enjoy her books because it is clear that she does extensive research to develop her characters and the plot of her novel. She provides imagery that is era-specific, and you feel that you are in the decade(s) in which the book is set. So far, I have read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (a must read!) and Daisy Jones & The Six (another must read that was so believable, I Googled the band! They are not a real band!).

    The plot of Malibu Rising had me intrigued from page one to learn about a fire that was set during the party-of the-year in 1981 in Malibu, CA. In typical Reid fashion, she does a wonderful job of telling the story of the main characters. However, there were parts of the story that felt unnecessary (?) and made the novel slow down in the middle and towards the end. Honestly, I was a little disappointed after Husbands and Daisy, but I continue to marvel at her ability to build characters and setting the scenes for a plot.

    Rating: 2.75/4. A multilayered novel with quite a bit to discuss. It’s an interesting read that teaches a lot about 1980s Hollywood, which can be a good learning experience.

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