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Why I believe “Angela Hanscom: Stop Blaming Parents (Including Yourself) For Sensory Disorders” Article is Misguided
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I recently read an interesting opinion article by Lee Lee in the Huffington Post entitled, “Angela Hanscom: Stop Blaming Parents (Including Yourself) For Sensory Disorders,” and was instantly curious about it’s claims regarding society blaming parents for their lack of effort to help children struggling with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD).
At first I was appalled by this claim. I couldn’t possibly believe that society would blame any parent for a child with SPD. Some children have a traumatic birth experience, suffer from a genetic disorder or develop sensory issues from a disconnection in the brain, which is completely out of the parent’s control. How could society possibly blame parents for these types of disorders?
Then, as I read further, I realized her frustrations came from an article written by pediatric occupational therapist, Angela Hascom, in the Washington Post entitled, “The decline of play in preschoolers – and the rise in sensory issues.” The article discusses how play-based learning is at a decline and how children learn best through meaningful play experiences, which I believe to be true. While, I absolutely do not believe parents are to blame for their child’s sensory challenges, I do believe play-based learning is, in fact, an important part of higher learning and what helps calm sensory issues in children with SPD and other learning challenges.
Now, do I blame parents and teachers for not exposing their children and students to more play-based activities while they are young to help “correct” some of these issues so they can better learn in the classroom? No! However, in most cases it’s not that parents and teachers don’t want to expose their children to more play activities, it’s that they don’t know which types of movement and play-type intervention will help their child learn and grow.
If there was more awareness about the power of play and how it helps children learn, don’t you think every parent would take their kids to the park more often or do some fun exercises with their child right in their own home? Would more teachers have their students put down their pencils and move around the room instead of having their students sit still in their chairs as suggested in this article, “The right – and surprisingly wrong – ways to get kids to sit still in class“? If anything, it’s not that parents are preventing their children from learning, they just don’t know how to help.
While I do understand that not every parent can afford an occupational therapist or an instructor to provide their child with trained movement therapy, there are many ways parents can expose their children to play-type experiences that don’t cost any money, but still gives their child the cross-patterning movement a child needs to help their left and right sides of the brain work together, which is critical for how a child learns in school.
Most of the exercises we do to help children, some of them you see in this article, “7 Super Brain-Building Gross Motor Activities for Kids,” can be done right in the living room or even outside without costing a dime. If parents are “blamed by society” or even perceived as not doing anything for their child as Lee suggests, before we pass judgment, maybe it’s just that parents and teachers don’t know where to look or how to begin, not that they don’t want to help their child.
Our goal is not to blame parents and teachers for their lack of exposing their children to play-based experiences who have sensory disorders, but to educate them on what they can do at home to enhance learning and to provide them with the tools they need to help their children reach their potential.
I am, however, encouraged and excited that more teachers and schools are adopting alternative teaching methods that incorporate movement within their lesson plans as you seen in this video, “In this classroom, the kids can’t sit still.”
Above all, parents should know they are doing a great job with their children if they struggle with sensory disorders or other learning challenges. It’s not easy raising a child who has a learning challenge and often struggles at home and at school. It can be a daunting and exhausting task, but parents should know there are answers to help improve their child’s livelihood through play-based movement. If any parent is struggling or doesn’t know where to turn, here is a great resource with activities to help parents get started, “Why all parents and teachers should read Sensory Processing 101.”
So as Mary Antoinette hypothetically once said, “Let them eat cake,” I would say, “Let our children play!”
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs