Recently, I had a chance to read Hartley Steiner’s new children’s book, It’s Just a What? Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions, which had many vibrant watercolor paintings of distinctive children on the spectrum with some sort of sensory processing disorder. Sensory processing disorder, or SPD, can cause frustration and stress. Steiner uses the “a picture says a thousand words” strategy by arranging each painting with as few words as possible, only using the dialogue by each character while the paintings tell the story. She shows that every child has a creative imagination about what sensory processing disorder is like for them, all the while showing the extremely creative and often humorous imagination of a child through the images. The book demonstrates a solution to solving problems and reduce sensory issues to the adults interacting with the children. Take, for instance, the first little boy who describes his discomfort of a tag on his t-shirt as feeling like he’s being hugged by a porcupine. During the interval, his mother steps in and cuts the tag out of the shirt to relieve the boy of discomfort.
In many ways, I enjoyed this book for its awareness of sensory issues, artistic structure, and talent. Moreover, it gave me a broader idea of how everyday ordinary items, such as a tag on a shirt, can cause can cause misery to the point of torture to some people. I really applaud that they showed each adult taking the time to listen to each child while they described what their situations were, and appeared to respond to their needs rather than ignore them.
On the contrary, while finding this book will be beneficial, I feel that she could expand on different types of issues related to sensory processing disorders and autism. For example, this book talks about sensory processing disorder only coming in the form of objects that touch the child’s skin, while failing to show illustrations related to getting a hug or touching their shoulders. I really feel that this would have been helpful for the eyes of young readers who are just learning about autism and sensory processing disorders. Steiner also left out other sensory issues, such as sound or visual. For example, I don’t like the sound of a fire alarm system. Though some would argue that “it’s just a fire alarm,” to me the sound is so grating that it hurts my body, like sandpaper scratching on a scab.
In spite of those missing elements from Steiner’s work, I am attached to this children’s book because of the education and creativity that it brings. I feel that it needs to be in the home of every family, whether their child has autism and sensory processing disorders or not. Furthermore, it should be in every library, place of worship, and public school in order for a child’s peers to know exactly what to expect. Teachers, parents, adults, and professional adults should also take to reading this book. Why? I found that this book will help lay the groundwork for people to understand how some on the spectrum think and learn: visually, by drawing pictures and diagrams. Being that I am somewhat of a visual thinker, this book was able to give me the message of what sensory processing disorder entails.
Semisirdyzhyda, A. (2018, 8). [book cover] It’s Just a What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions. Arlington, TX. Future Horizons Incorporated.
Steiner, H. (2018, 08). It’s Just A What?: Little Sensory Issues with Big Reactions. Arlinton, TX. Future Horizon’s Books. Future Horizons Incorporated.