Book Reviews

Love, Jean
Review of a Small Book
Copyright 2004 Roger N. Meyer
All Rights Reserved

A family member whose deceased relatives included A. Jean Ayers, of Sensory Integration Disorder fame, sent me a small book.  The book contains the unpublished letters of Dr. Ayers to her 14 year old nephew, separated from her by the distance of our two coasts.  In her letters, she offers to train him by mail, using the best of what she had developed at the time, to challenge the effects of his Sensory Integration Disorder.

14 years was a bit old, she thought at the time, but she was interested in his welfare as aunts can be sometimes.  He was having terrible times with math and handling other typical middle and high school subject matter.  During the time of the letters, he was at one school, perhaps two, but in his own interspersed short chapters, he tells us his life story as a mature adult, reflecting on his experiences as a child, adolescent, and young adult growing up with he knew not what until his aunt named it.

The book is not an guide to Sensory Integration Disorder.  It is a brief story of one person's unfolding, recollections, and triumphs.  There's way too much written about Sensory Integration Therapy as an occupational therapy and speech language pathology specialization to go into in this brief review.  Besides, at the back of the book, there is reference information regarding Dr. Ayers' initial and later contributions to a field for which she is now largely remembered.

Between the chapters containing Ayers's coaching and encouraging words to her nephew Phil Erwin, and his reflections on growing up with SID, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and major vestibular and apraxia of motion issues, there are the occasional short chapters written by Zoe Mailloux, an occupational therapist who introduces the new reader, the new parent first learning of this disorder, to some of the basic concepts about SID, and its connection with autism and other developmental differences.

The book is an easy read.

Phil has moved in his adult life from being a highly qualified Emergency Medicine Technician, professional and trainer, to university where a Philosophy degree did him no good other than providing him with an advanced vocabulary and teaching the value of discipline as he successfully completed a four year degree program.  He happened upon a boat wright who taught him the advanced skills of wood boat restoration, something he engages in at the moment, when he isn't otherwise hiking, mountain biking, and taking thoughtful breathers from his own self-employed business.  Of course, there's his family, which he doesn't speak much about, but most likely is appreciative of his wisdom.

The book is a pleasure.  Short.  Sweet.  To the point   And funny, at least with Phillip's recollections.  Ayers comes across as someone involved, but somehow, in her own style of writing, quite distant and only slightly pedantic.  Just from her letters, I can understand how others found her a complicated person to understand.  The contributions of the third author, Zoe Mailloux, fall somewhere in between informality and concise one-step guide types of writing.  Easily tolerable for short chapters, but were they longer, probably a bit wearing, even for the tolerant reader.

This is a "gift book" for those who have the basics.  Others have written far more in detail about learning disorders and SID.  A comfortable small book, it might be a nice present for those who have a bit of everything in their collections.  Published by the small Erwin family press in Santa Rosa California, Crestport Press, it may be somewhat difficult but not impossible to order.  One noted endorser of the book, Carol Stock Kranowitz, MA, may be known to some of us as the author of The Out-of -Sync Child, a great introduction to the intimate frustrations of parents and children alike, as they both struggle with the manifestations of Sensory Integration Disorder.

The book's simple title is a reflection of one of the author's closings in her never-before published letters to her nephew:

Love, Jean

Full title: Love, Jean - Inspiration for Families Living with Dysfunction of Sensory Integration

Authors: A. Jean Ayers, Ph.D., OTR, Phillip R. Erwin, BA, and Zoe Maillou, MA, OTR
Publisher: Crestport Press, Santa Rosa, CA
ISBN 0-9725098-1-X (Paperback) retail price, $15.95



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...Sondra Williams

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