Westlake Girl Scout 'making sense' of sensory processing issues
Westlake High School junior Allie Routhier ran a booth on Saturday, Sept. 3, at Celebrate Westlake's annual run, walk, and fun dash to raise awareness for children with Sensory Processing Issues (SPI). By speaking with Sarah Rintamaki, Executive Director of Connecting for Kids, Allie identified the need to promote the advantages of early identification and treatment for children who are affected in the region.
Through generous family and neighbor donations and extensive babysitting and pet care over the summer, Allie raised funds to write, illustrate, and publish 165 copies of a 22-page children's book, "Making Sense of It," that tells the story of two bunnies working through sensory processing issues together. American Greetings and the parishioners at both St. Bernadette's and St. Ladislas' churches in Westlake donated new stuffed animals to her cause.
A stuffed animal sporting a custom T-shirt featuring Allie's illustrations accompanied each book she distributed at the event. Her informational booth educated adults about how to identify warning signs and where to get help. In addition, she ran an interactive sensory station and "sensory corn hole" game for prizes. Remaining books and stuffed animals will be distributed at future Connecting for Kids events, and she will also donate copies of her book to Westlake Porter Public Library and select branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library system.
Allie's awareness campaign was the focus of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, which is the highest award available in that organization. After completing the preliminary projects, called Journeys, a Girl Scout spends a recommended minimum of 80 hours identifying an issue, investigating it thoroughly, getting help and building a team, creating a plan, presenting her plan, gathering feedback, taking action, and educating and inspiring others.
Sensory processing issues in children often appear as inappropriate responses to sensory signals from the environment and can result in problems ranging from social delays to injuries. Some children find stimuli too intense (loud noises, strong smells, strange food textures, itchy clothing tags, flashing lights, etc.). Others do not react to stimuli at all, while a few constantly crave more stimulation (excessive cuddling/hugs). Some have trouble identifying sensations (hunger, upset stomach, etc.). Finally, some face motor-based problems and have difficulty with movement, balance, or using both sides of the body together. Often occupational therapy can reduce the symptoms of SPI. F
or more information, speak with your doctor or visit connectingforkids.org. The earlier the intervention, the better the results.
Girl Scout leader of 15 years.