Book Review: When Kids Fly

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This book is a little different than the types of books I usually review here. It focuses on child development and the benefits that integrated therapy programs (a combination of different types of therapy) can have for various disorders, such as autism, ADD, or developmental delays.

While this blog focuses on invisible illnesses of all sorts, I haven’t written very much about pediatric illness. Most of my readers are self-advocating adults navigating life with chronic illness. This book’s audience is adults advocating for their childrens’ health, but the subject matter is extremely relevant to both parties. These integrated therapies are probably ones you haven’t heard of and ones that would probably help you with whatever chronic illness you can think of.

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This book (and the care center this author started here in my hometown of Dallas, TX) focuses on a combination of three core types of therapy: Physical or Occupational Therapy, Sound Therapy, and CranioSacral Therapy.

So of these three, I am most familiar with CranioSacral Therapy, as I have used that to find some relief from both endometriosis chronic pain and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. But I would never have known about this as a treatment option. None of my doctors have ever even mentioned this drug-free pain relief treatment. I only discovered it because my sister’s boyfriend’s mother practices it, and my mom actually works with her now, too, at Integrated Pediatric Therapy here in Dallas. Which is why I’m reading this book by their founder – but please note that I am in no way being compensated to say nice things about this book or this company.

So CranioSacral Therapy is similar to massage therapy. It’s effective, relaxing, and not usually covered by insurance even though it’s an extremely safe alternative to drugs. But this isn’t a post about everything wrong with our healthcare system.

So if you’re walking blind into your first session, it might seem strange at first. Basically, it’s a massage that is very, very, very gentle. Like, the pressure of a dime resting on your skin is an example I was given. It involves a therapist laying their hands on you and exerting subtle pressure on different points of your skull, neck, and lower back. Sometimes there is work on your legs and feet, too. Basically it focuses on your brain and spinal chord, legs getting involved because your posture and gait can affect your spine. The aim is to increase the ease of blood flow in your connective tissues, similar to the “cupping” therapy made popular by Olympic athletes – but much gentler with no bruising involved.

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Honestly if I get too deep into my personal experience it’s going to start sounding like some hippie wind song and that really needs to be a post of its own. But I’ve found a lot of relief from this. This works because this therapy looks at your body as a whole, with each system in you influencing the wellness of all your other bodily systems. And that concept is what this whole book is about – using a multi-disciplinary approach to chronic illness.

Having a team of specialists working together to increase your overall health is obviously everyone’s wildest dream. But at IPT, that’s actually a reality for a lot of kids (and some lucky adults who aren’t put off by the word “pediatric”) ((like me)).

The “star” therapy of this book and this center is Occupational Therapy, or Physical Therapy. Most people associate this with recovering from an injury or major surgery, or nursing homes. But Occupational Therapy is fascinatingly versatile and can help with a number of physical, developmental, and mental illnesses and disorders. While I don’t have much expertise in this area, I want to enthusiastically reccomend what might be my personal favorite blog, Sunlight in Winter, for more information on what Occupational Therapy is and how it can help with chronic pain.

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And the final therapy, Sound Therapy, is one I honestly know nothing about outside of what I read in this book. Of the three, this one is probably most applicable to pediatric medicine, specifically. But that’s not to say it is exclusively a children’s treatment. The book talks specifically about two types – Interactive Metronome (IM) and Integrative Listening Systems (iLs). My sister, who is an adult and who lives with Traumatic Brain Injury, has done some of this therapy to help improve her reaction time and hand-eye coordination.

This book also, unsurprisingly, talks a lot about child development. And while my main reader base may not think this information applies to them, examining your own developmental history may indeed offer insight into who you are now, personality-wise and health-wise. Even something as innocuous as one’s handwriting has deep roots in how you learned to crawl and walk, and may indicate places in your current state that could use attention to promote your overall wellness.

And to my readers who are parents, and especially those navigating early school years and maybe even a diagnosis of ADD or autism: please read this book. Because it’s important to have a general, basic understanding of child development if you have one, and this book is written very simply and it’s also very short and easy to read. And if you are looking at options to help your child with a sensory disorder or developmental delay, this book covers a range of non-invasive, non-medication-based options that you may not hear about (because our healthcare system is broken– sorry I won’t mention it again inthispost). These gentle options might be exactly what you’re looking for, and if you do need medication, these treatments can compliment that as well.

“When professionals with diverse backgrounds and differing perspectives come together to solve a difficult puzzle, great things happen. Kids with developmental delays [or patients with chronic illnesses] seldom have only a single issue.”

*brackets mine

In short: yes, this book on pediatric therapy has information applicable to you, whoever you are. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can buy it here.

And to all of you, I hope you find the diverse professionals to give you differing perspectives, and I hope you fly.

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