Have you ever imagined yourself as a superhero? Your powers could include, but definitely are not limited to, tactical taste, heroic hearing, significant sight, terrific touch and supersonic smell. These are some of the ways that author Gin Noon Spaulding explained sensory issues to students at Farrar Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Spaulding is a Tullahoma native. A graduate of Tullahoma High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Austin Peay University. She then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where she began a 27-year teaching career and obtained her master’s degree in educational counseling.
Throughout her life, Spaulding has always had a passion for writing and storytelling. In writing, she would tell many stories about her family, her pets and anything else she found inspiring. When Spaulding’s daughter, Maleah, was born, she found a new inspiration.
Spaulding could sense a delay in Maleah as early as 18 months. Many toddlers at that age are able to speak a few words to communicate their needs to their families, but Maleah did not. Spaulding took her daughter to a clinic in Louisville called First Steps. It was then that her daughter was diagnosed with a speech delay. This diagnosis not only became a learning experience for Spaulding, but it also set the stage for Spaulding’s writing career.
When Maleah was about 2 years old, Spaulding began to realize that some things bothered her daughter more than other children. Sometimes Maleah would have meltdowns in specific situations. Because of Maleah’s speech delay, communication between Spaulding and her daughter was difficult, and getting to the root of the problem became a struggle. One afternoon after church, Spaulding truly understood what her daughter was going through.
“Church let out one morning, and I remember there being two paths on which we could take to get to our car,” Spaulding said. “One way was very crowded and the other way was clearer. However, the clearer path took longer to get to our car. When Maleah and I started toward the more crowded path, she had a complete meltdown. That’s when I stopped and decided to let her choose the way. Her meltdown stopped immediately, and we continued happily towards our car. It was then that I realized that she had sensory issues.”
Because Spaulding and her daughter had already been attending therapy classes at First Choice, Spaulding knew she couldn’t be in denial about her daughter’s sensory issues. This discovery led Spaulding on her writing journey, beginning a series of children’s books called “The Adventures of Li-Li.”
In these books, Spaulding explains some of her daughter’s sensory issues and how she overcomes them. Her first book in the series is called “A Miracle at Bates Memorial.” This book introduces sensory issues and explains Spaulding’s reaction when she finally understood her daughter’s way of communication.
“When people read my book, I want them to understand and appreciate the differences other people have and not judge when kids act out,” said Spaulding. “Most kids cannot explain how they feel, and it becomes difficult for them for communicate about what’s bothering them.”
During a visit to Jack T. Farrar Elementary School on Wednesday, Spaulding compared a sensory issue to a superpower in which one sense completely overpowers the other senses. Her talk included ways to end the stigma toward children with sensory issues and bring a better understanding to the way these children communicate. Comparing their sensory issues to the everyday things that bother others, she said, becomes a way to normalize the way we address both children and adults who have sensory issues.
“We all have sensory issues,” Spaulding said. “They can be to the tags on your clothes or the way certain sounds make your skin tingle. I want people to take a step back before judging when they see a child acting out and think about how you would feel if someone couldn’t understand how you were feeling. Just don’t stare. Be aware and be helpful.”
During her reading at Farrar, Spaulding spoke to all the students and explained sensory issues in way that was easy for them to understand. She helped them identify the superpower sense that overcomes them and helped them find ways to communicate it to others. However, they first had to affirm aloud that no matter what super-sense they had, they were still smart, strong and able to do anything they set their mind to.
“I enjoyed the students at Farrah Elementary so much,” said Spaulding. “The students were so attentive and sweet, and they had so many great questions. The students were able to identify with Maleah and her sensory issues. The staff was so friendly and helpful. I am so appreciative of everything they have done for me.”
While figuring out Maleah’s sensory issues was a learning process for mother and daughter both, Spaulding said Maleah is now a sophomore in high school at the renowned DuPont Manual School in Louisville, Kentucky, where she is in the math, science and technology program. Maleah has received many academic awards, including a fourth-grade scholarship to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center space camp. Her future ambitions include becoming an astronaut.
Spaulding emphasizes that even though life may throw obstacles at you, you can achieve anything when you set your mind to it. Maleah, she said, has proven this to her.
Spaulding’s book was published in September of this year by BFF Publishing House. She is currently working on her second book in the “Adventures of Li-Li” series. It is expected to be available in February.
“The Adventures of Li-Li” can be purchased on Amazon and, via a link to Amazon, on Goodreads. It is also available on Spaulding’s website, www.gustgun-author.com.
Spaulding is currently scheduling readings, book tours and parent talks though December. Information about booking can also be found on her website.
Spaulding welcomes anyone with questions and concerns about children with sensory issues, to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faith Few can be reached via email at email@example.com.