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Sensory (and people) avoidance may be an appropriate adaptive response.

It turns out that some animals have changed their habits to survive competition with humans for space and resources humans. And it’s a relatively recent phenomenon.

This got me thinking about our lives and I reminded of the question I ask when lecturing. It will give my age away but it’s relevant. When you grew up, how many devices or appliances in the home were electric, hummed, whites, bleeped or transmitted a tiny blue or green or other flicking light. For those of us my age in South Africa where I grew up, TV didn’t arrive until I was already at school. I can count the appliances that created sounds and visual distraction and competed for my time and attention on just two hands – and I can’t even use up all my fingers!

Like the precious animals who are adapting to man’s machines, signs, mobile masts, planes, boats, trains and everything else we send into their work through avoiding us, many people might choose avoidance too – and do we judge this as an appropriate adaptive response?

No, because man is supposed to be a social creature who needs attachment and relationships to survive – but sometimes because of the way someone is wired and their sensory hyper-reactivity, perhaps these social relationships are worth sacrificing and loosing to ‘just survive’ – to just feel safe within one’s own skin without being constantly bombarded and overwhelmed.

If you were wired like this 100 years ago, you would have been able to still find a life or job role that matched your neurological diversity more closely. Nowadays this is becoming increasingly impossible unless one escapes to a desolate island – and these are few and far between.

Many of my clients shop in 24-hour stores at 2am to avoid others, while younger clients say they wake and eat at night when the “don’t have to hear others chew’ or have to “watch and hear them chew their food and then wipe their faces”  [face grimace and full body visceral response of disgust] !

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Why a walk in a wood, forest or tree-filled park may be ‘just-right’ sensory input.

What is so magical about being in a wood, forest or tree-lined park?

It seems research may have the answers, and unsurprisingly, the benefits may be to do with the sensory opportunities of a tree-filled environment.

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“Other benefits are more subtle. Green, leafy trees can provide sensory relief in urban areas dominated by hard surfaces, right angles, glass and concrete, and intrusive, attention-seeking advertising.”

“The vibrant colours, natural shapes and textures, the fresh aromas and rustling of leaves in the breeze all provide distraction and relief from whatever it was you might have been thinking about, or even stressing over,” Associate Professor Feng said.

see Tree Canopy Rather Than Green Space Gives Nature’s Mental Health Benefits

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Respect the Intelligences of Kids with Intellectual Disabilities

Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 23.35.21.pngread the whole story at Respect the Intelligences of Kids with Intellectual Disabilities

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Nevertheless, she persisted

Two years ago, at ISIC 2018 in South Africa, we were reminded how A Jean Ayres persisted despite lack of funding, critique of her new ideas and theory, including from her occupational therapy peers.

A Jean Ayres was ‘way ahead of her time’ – many disbelieved that her theory of sensory integration and neural plasticity was relevant in occupational therapy for children, let alone for adults. Many did not agree that children (and adults) might benefit from occupational therapy using her newly developed theory and the therapy she called Sensory Integration.

Even today – nearly 50 years later, therapists and parents in many places are still required to persist if they wish to;

  • access occupational therapy using Ayres’ theory of sensory integration
  • secure funding to train in Ayres’ Sensory Integration,
  • develop sensory integration informed treatment pathways
  • assess and use Ayres’ SI to inform therapy aimed at improving the daily lives of children and adults across the lifespan.

The ASI 2020 Vision is about “nevertheless persisting” in ASI, providing a means to address the next steps and stages of development of the theory of Ayres’ SI.

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Can a LA refuse to consider a private report?

If I had a penny for every time I answer this question, I’d be rich!

In short the answer is no they cannot. Here is a useful response you can make.

Please ask the relevant professional to commit this advice in writing. If they have been told this by someone else, politely request that person’s name and contact details so you can speak to them to get it in writing from them.

Once you have this information you will be able to refer this to the relevant professional body like HCPC for comment. The rationale often given is that private providers can be paid to say anything. This is incorrect. However – do make sure what you pay is reasonable and by a therapist with the correct training to undertake the assessment they are providing. See more information about Therapist Qualifications and ICEASI here if you are looking to include assessment results and recommendations of sensory integration and processing difficulties in your EHCP.

Then politely explain or ask if a GP would repeat MRI, tests or X-rays undertaken by a Dr in a private hospital? This is common practice – many people have private health insurance that speeds up diagnostic assessments prior to people them obtaining treatment/therapy on the NHS.

If this is said regarding assessments for EHCP process the law and guidance is clear…

Information and advice to be obtained of EHC Needs Assessments

6.—(1) Where the local authority secures an EHC needs assessment for a child or young person, it must seek the following advice and information, on the needs of the child or young person, and what provision may be required to meet such needs and the outcomes that are intended to be achieved by the child or young person receiving that provision—

(a) advice and information from the child’s parent or the young person;

(b) educational advice and information—

(i) from the head teacher or principal of the school or post-16 or other institution that the child or young person is attending, or

(ii) where this is not available, from a person who the local authority is satisfied has experience of teaching children or young people with special educational needs, or knowledge of the differing provision which may be called for in different cases to meet those needs, or

(iii) if the child or young person is not currently attending a school or post-16 or other institution and advice cannot be obtained under sub-paragraph (ii), from a person responsible for educational provision for the child or young person, and

(iv) if any parent of the child or young person is a serving member of Her Majesty’s armed forces, also from the Secretary of State for Defence;

(c) medical advice and information from a health care professional identified by the responsible commissioning body;

(d) psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist;

(e) advice and information in relation to social care;

(f) advice and information from any other person the local authority thinks is appropriate;

(g) where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, advice and information in relation to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living; and

(h) advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from.

(2) Where it appears to the authority, in consequence of medical advice or otherwise, that the child or young person in question is either or both—

(a) hearing impaired;

(b) visually impaired,

and any person from whom advice and information is sought as provided in paragraph (1)(b) is not qualified to teach children or young people who are so impaired, then the advice sought shall be advice given after consultation with a person who is so qualified.

(3) When seeking advice in accordance with paragraph (1)(b) to (h), the local authority must provide the person from whom advice is being sought with copies of—

(a) any representations made by the child’s parent or the young person, and

(b) any evidence submitted by or at the request of the child’s parent or the young person.

(4) The local authority must not seek any of the advice referred to in paragraphs (1)(b) to (h) if such advice has previously been provided for any purpose and the person providing that advice, the local authority and the child’s parent or the young person are satisfied that it is sufficient for the purposes of an EHC needs assessment.

child’s parent or the young person, and

(b) any evidence submitted by or at the request of the child’s parent or the young person.

(4) The local authority must not seek any of the advice referred to in paragraphs (1)(b) to (h) if such advice has previously been provided for any purpose and the person providing that advice, the local authority and the child’s parent or the young person are satisfied that it is sufficient for the purposes of an EHC needs assessment.

from The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014

5.48 Where a child continues to make less than expected progress, despite evidence- based support and interventions that are matched to the child’s area of need, practitioners should consider involving appropriate specialists, for example, health visitors, speech and language therapists, Portage workers, educational psychologists or specialist teachers, who may be able to identify effective strategies, equipment, programmes or other interventions to enable the child to make progress towards the desired learning and development outcomes. The decision to involve specialists should be taken with the child’s parents.

6.45 In identifying a child as needing SEN support the class or subject teacher, working with the SENCO, should carry out a clear analysis of the pupil’s needs. This should draw on the teacher’s assessment and experience of the pupil, their previous progress and attainment, as well as information from the school’s core approach to pupil progress, attainment, and behaviour. It should also draw on other subject teachers’ assessments where relevant, the individual’s development in comparison to their peers and national data, the views and experience of parents, the pupil’s own views and, if relevant, advice from external support services. Schools should take seriously any concerns raised by a parent. These should be recorded and compared to the setting’s own assessment and information on how the pupil is developing.

6.46 This assessment should be reviewed regularly. This will help ensure that support and intervention are matched to need, barriers to learning are identified and overcome, and that a clear picture of the interventions put in place and their effect is developed. For some types of SEN, the way in which a pupil responds to an intervention can be the most reliable method of developing a more accurate picture of need.

6.47 In some cases, outside professionals from health or social services may already be involved with the child. These professionals should liaise with the school to help inform the assessments. Where professionals are not already working with school staff the SENCO should contact them if the parents agree.

6.61 Schools should work closely with the local authority and other providers to agree the range of local services and clear arrangements for making appropriate requests. This might include schools commissioning specialist services directly. Such specialist services include, but are not limited to:

• educational psychologists

• Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

• specialist teachers or support services, including specialist teachers with a mandatory qualification for children with hearing and vision impairment , including multi-sensory impairment, and for those with a physical disability. (Those teaching classes of children with sensory impairment must hold an appropriate qualification approved by the Secretary of State. Teachers working in an advisory role to support such pupils should also hold the appropriate qualification.)

• therapists (including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists)

from Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years

This post from Special Needs Jungle is also useful to refer to.

Advice from IPSEA

Summary of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice 2015

ASI WISE RCOT 2018 Poster EHCP [Final]

For a copy of our RCOT 2019 Poster above re EHCP please click here.

Blog Copy: Requesting ASI in an EHCP