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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A children’s author visited students at Iona Elementary School Friday to teach them how challenges associated with sensory processing disorder can actually be a "superpower."
Kelli Call, a former east Idaho resident, is the author of "It’s Not Easy Being a Superhero" a new children’s book, which she read to students at Iona Elementary School, 5338 Owens Ave, Iona, Idaho, as part of the school’s Hope Week.
The book focuses on a child who deals with sensory processing disorder, an ailment which affects some 5 to 16 percent of school-aged children, according to a study by the University of California San Francisco. Children with the disorder struggle to process stimulation, which sometimes includes a hypersensitivity to sound, sight and touch. It can also impact fine motor skills and cause distractibility.
You know, when you see someone’s child screaming in a grocery store, you don’t have to automatically judge them as 'bad parents' ... There’s usually more to it.
–Kelli Call, author
Call said she was inspired to write the book because two of her children are affected by the sensory disorder. She says she hopes people will learn to understand and be empathetic to those going through challenges like sensory processing disorder or autism.
"You know, when you see someone’s child screaming in a grocery store, you don’t have to automatically judge them as 'bad parents' or that their kids are throwing a tantrum. There’s usually more to it," Call told EastIdahoNews.com.
The picture book focuses on a young boy named Clark and tells about his five superpowers of super-hearing, super-sight, super-smell, super-taste and super-touch, which he must learn to control. Each of his superpowers touch aspects of Call’s children’s own challenges with their sensory processing disorder.
Jan Hughes, the counselor at Iona Elementary, says having Call come and read her book to the children was the end of Hope Week. She said each day of the week activities were held to encourage friendship and overall kindness to everyone despite their differences.
"I found, working in the school, if kids understand why their classmates might be acting a little weird or whatever, then they understand 'well, this is a sensory processing thing' or 'this kid has ADHD' and they understand what it means. They are so accepting, you know? Kids want to do the right thing," Hughes said.
Hughes said Hope Week is part of Bonneville Joint School District 93’s Hope Squad program, in which kids who are especially kind are nominated to help look out for students who may be struggling. While the program began as a initiative to tackle suicide among students in the district, the program has now included the initiative to promote kindness in the classroom, in the lunchroom and on the playground.
"I think just the kindness does have that ripple effect," Hughes said.