This paper published in July 2020 by Karen M Keptner, Carolyn Fitzgibbon and Julie O’Sullivan supports the use of sensory integration approaches to reduce anxiety in college environments. Sensory modulation difficulties are increasingly assessed to inform intervention in mental health services.
Anxiety is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders on post-secondary campuses, often brought on by stressors unique to the college environment. Traditional psychological approaches to manage anxiety might focus on breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation. However, additional techniques that use specific sensory input to reduce anxiety have not received the same attention in the literature.
This longitudinal study compared four interventions for state anxiety (deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, an adapted dive reflex, and use of a weighted lap object) in a cohort of professional occupational therapy students.
This study found that all four interventions significantly reduced state anxiety. The sensory-based interventions of adapted dive reflex and weighted lap object appeared to have a longer duration of impact than the traditional interventions of deep breathing and PMR.
These results suggest that both traditional and sensory-based approaches may be effective in reducing anxiety before a testing situation.
This weekend saw us deliver Module 3 live and interactive via Zoom to therapists from the UK and Ireland. We have successfully used Zoom and GoToWebinar during COVID-19 to have live interactive CPD webinars about Sensory Ladders, Assessment and Research. We wondered if Zoom would allow us to see and work in almost the same way as we would usually do in the face to face classroom module?
“I just want to say thank you for such an enjoyable 3 days. It was excellent, and I learned so so much. I’ve been working in paeds for 4 years and never really truly understood the Clin Obs until you explained it the way you did. I just think your course should be compulsory for all Paeds OTs!!! It was excellent. Thank you. Looking forward to the next stages…
…You can leave my name in and please do share the review. I will be recommending the course to every OT I meet, especially my Paeds team (OT, SLT and PT). Looking forward to doing an in-service on everything you have thought me. Thanks again. See you in August.”
Helen Hoyne, July 2020
We could see and talk to each other in real-time, share coffee and a laugh as we learnt the tests of postural praxis and praxis on verbal command in the SIPT. We considered the new items in the EASI that assess posture and praxis, including some that the original Ayres’ Clinical Observations, developed and published in 1972 in the iconic ‘Blue Book – Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders’.
We explored what’s the same and different in Design Copy (SIPT) and Designs (EASI). We measured angles in Constructional Praxis and wondered curiously about what each test measures and how this contributes to clinical reasoning.
It was exciting to see how technology can help us to deliver such an efficient hands-on, somewhat socially distanced learning experience. And, that it is possible to do this while having fun and getting to know each other as if we were together doing it face to face.
And, as the first 3 days drew to a close, we started planning the time before now and the final day 4 of Module 3. Our delegates are now ready to begin building EASI kits, and borrowing SIPT kits from local therapists or ASI Wise to be able to practice with family and friends, and where possible starting to assess their case study client as well.
“I wanted to say thank you for yesterdays session and all your hard work putting it all together in such a different way to normal. I really enjoyed the sessions.” CY July 2020
Guided by the data-driven decision-making process, delegates will now collect data to plot onto the interpretation tool, including how to consider and include data from a range of assessment tools and tests, interview, client and carer narrative and observation of play and leisure, even when this is via telehealth.
Looking forward to our final day together in August, and the Tutor Group chat online before this, watching and supporting people’s progress mastering new assessment skills.
“It’s working really well online, in my opinion. I really wasn’t sure about doing M6 online and neither was my colleague, but I’ve told her how good it is and we’d both now like to do it.” HM July 2020
exploring the constructs – what are we testing and why?
For therapists learning Ayres’ SI during and just post-COVID-19 while travel remains tricky, we are offering this liver interactive face to face learning virtually, working with world experts in Ayres’ SI ensuring we can continue to meet ICEASI standards for sensory integration education while socially distancing.
Module 3 deepens therapist learning about Ayres SI and the sensory systems, learning about these in detail across a range of different assessment tools – including ideas about how to adapt the SIPT and Ayres’ Clin Obs for adult clinical populations.
We will explore both the SIPT and EASI – thinking about each test within these test batteries, considering how individual tests are similar and different, how they relate to each other and what they can tell us about how these tests relates to sensory challenges impacting on participation in everyday life. We explore ways to assess clients who cannot complete standardised assessment, including applying this new learning to unstructured clinical observations and ways to capture this data.
Learn more about new tools in development including changes to the SPM, and the FLIQ (Family Life Impact Questionnaire) currently being researched as part of te EASI Project. We consider a wide range of tools, their use clinically including the Adult Adolescent Sensory History.
Kath Smith and the team at ASI Wise will guide you through this learning over 4 days, where you will work with others online, complete practical activities via Zoom and at home, so that you are supported to consider how to provide comprehensive assessment, even while socially distanced.
We will also introduce you to ASI assessment via telehealth in our post-module weekly live tutor groups on gotomeeting.