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A Sensory Diet: Feely Books

1 March, 2012

Books are important in the life of a child. They develop language skills, touch the emotions and increase their sense of the world around them. A familiar book can be a comfort on a stressful day and, to a child with sensory processing problems, a predictable, soothing constant.

A sturdy textured book is a great toy for a toddler. There are textures to explore, as well as the pictures to examine and words to listen to. I often think that, for toddlers, a book must be a thing of wonder. I open the book and see a picture of a duck. I shut the book. When I open it again I see a cow. Once the books is closed, I wonder… Will I see the duck or the cow again, or something new? It’s like a choose your own adventure story, or one of those hard pencil cases with a new compartment to inspect on every side.

For a child with sensory processing difficulties, a textured book offers a safe way to explore textures. The child can get a sense of what dogs fur may feel like, without having the confronting presence of an unpredictable dog right in front of him. He can touch a textured picture of a goldfish and reconcile in his brain the appearance of the object, with the impulses sent from finger to brain, communicating texture. He can also reconcile the words that describe the texture with the sensation – hard, soft, smooth, rough, sandy, sticky, furry and many more.

There are many different “Feely” books available today, on almost any topic a child could wish for. You can often also get books that involve other senses, such as those with panels to smell. The predictability of the textured book helps it to be less threatening, especially since the book can easily be shut, or certain pages avoided, if a certain texture (or smell) is upsetting or unpleasant for any reason.

Textured books are a calming, quiet way to incorporate some sensory stimulation into a child’s sensory diet, unlike many other sensory activities which excite (although they may also calm the nervous system).

I hope to expand our library of textured books and incorporate it into the sensory diet on a more regular basis.

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