Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Chynna Laird’s words flow from her heart and tug at our heartstrings.  In Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)  by Chynna T. Laird with a foreword by Dr. Shane Steadman you embark on a roller coaster ride of emotions as Chynna  chronicles the first six years of her first born, a girl named Jamie.  Not Just Spirited is a slice in the life of a tenacious, intelligent, loving mom and her battle to get the help her child needed to cope with the world around her.

At the same time, Chynna had to constantly juggle the needs and wishes of others in her life, her husband and three more children born during those years. Desperate to understand and help her child, Chynna spent hours researching and journaling to prepare “her case” before her  numerous meetings with health care professionals and educators. This 140 page memoir will empower you with knowledge to overcome the hurdles in your life as a special needs parent.

Who Can Benefit from Reading Not Just Spirited?

Are you an overwhelmed parent of a special needs child? Chynna’s book is the encouragement and guiding light you need to be successful in your journey. Are you an educator, child care worker, health care professional? This heartwarming story will give you insights in the life of the little souls entrusted to you all the other hours of each day when only the parents are left to cope. Are you a grandparent, a family member, or a friend of a family with a special needs child? Reading Not Just Spirited allows you to walk in their shoes, learn the struggles they have, and will make you a better ally to help shoulder their many responsibilities.

Written by a parent this book is, above all, for parents. The readers will appreciate how Chynna is able to weave in lots of relevant information in laymen’s terms about sensory processing disorder (SPD).  The author explains all the pros and cons of treatments and educational programs available. Readers learn about the senses, the signs of SPD, support groups, and sensory diets. We cheer Chynna on when reading about the many sensible ways she helped her beautiful, little girl whose brain doesn’t understand how to process all the stimulations coming at her so she lives in fear. Donna, their OT, explained ,” So we need to jolt her brain to the stimulation but do it in fun ways so she’ll learn to relate the stimulation to fun instead of fear.”

When readers learn of Jamie’s outright rejection of her father, he immediately gains our empathy. Steve, Jamie’s father, feels very much left out as he can only “love from afar” because this sensitive child totally disliked being held, comforted, or touched by anyone except her mom and only on occasion. Jamie even became aggressive towards her father by pushing him, yelling at him, covering her ears when he spoke, and actually gagging when he came near.

Can you imagine the pain Chynna and Steve must have felt not to be able to give and much less receive hugs, cuddles, and kisses that go with parenthood? Chynna writes, “I’d felt helpless for years—stuck between the two people I’d loved most in the world and not being able to help either of them.”

After Jamie’s diagnosis at around two and a half they began family therapy. Throughout the book, readers will see how difficult it is on the family unit when one child needs so much attention. Chynna reveals, “It ripped us apart at the seams and I wasn’t sure how much longer our little family could coast along this way.” Even though SPD was Jamie’s disorder, the rest of the family was greatly affected by certain aspects of it and felt isolated from the outside world.

One important point that Chynna makes is for parents to trust their gut feeling. If they think in their very soul something is not quite right with their child; there usually is.

Do Not FEAR Therapy

For all the kids out there who need to be helped with the various therapies now available, Chynna writes that parents should not FEAR therapy. Like Chynna, parents hurt to their very core when their child is terrified by any intervention. Seeing your child scream, struggle and fight with the very professionals who are trying to help is very difficult.  Chynna explains clearly, “All of Jamie’s life, up to the point when Donna entered our lives, we helped her avoid any activities, people, places or other things that cause her distress. I didn’t realize that I added to the problem.  If Jamie wasn’t allowed to experience any of the sensory things around her, how was she ever going to learn how to function in the world? I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself knowing that I contributed to her distress rather than helped her with it.”

I have not mentioned the most poignant scenes that almost brought me to tears.  Chynna tells us about her child who self-mutilates: bangs her head, bites herself, pulls at her hair, and scratches herself and others. Then we read the “inchstones” and about a few “milestones” that almost make you want to do a happy dance!  These many events I will not spoil for you. You need to read them for yourself.

Hopefully as the years go by and more family doctors become familiar with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), children exhibiting behaviors like Jamie will be evaluated early, receive a diagnosis in a timely manner, and start early intervention programs. Reading Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Chynna T. Laird puts parents on the right path and brings hope that, yes, something CAN be done to help their hurting child and in turn their entire family.

About the Author

Chynna Laird is a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta. She has three daughters [Jaimie (eight), Jordhan (six), and baby Sophie (three)] and baby boy, Xander (four). Inspired by her own daughter, Jaimie, and her son Xander who live with SPD and ASD, she raises awareness for them and children like them around the world.

You’ll find her work in many online and in-print parenting, inspirational, Christian and writing publications in Canada, United States, Australia, and Britain. In addition, she’s authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), a Young Adult novel (Blackbird Flies) and an adult Suspense/Thriller (Out Of Sync  released in March 2012).  She  is currently working on the sequel to Not Just Spirited called Not Just Spirited: The Journey Continues.

Congratulations to Chynna as Not Just Spirited A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD placed as a FINALIST in the “Psychology” category (2010 National Indie Excellence Awards) and placed as “Finalist” in both the “Health: Psychology/Mental Health” and “Parenting/Family: Reference” categories (2010 USA Book News Awards).

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Buy Books by Chynna Laird:

  • I’m Not Weird, I Have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD): Alexandra’s Journey (2nd Edition) 

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.