Kathryn Smith, (Kath), Consultant Occupational Therapist.
Kath worked in CAMHS service and a school specialising in physical and learning difficulties in South Africa, before moving permanently to the UK in 1996. Kath made her mark in the UK co-authoring assessment tools and skills cards within the Special Parenting Service. In the late 1990’s where she initiated development and delivery of Ayres’ Sensory Integration (ASI) services, including tools and resources, for use with older adults, adults, and adolescents in the areas of learning disability and mental health.
Ever the innovator, in 2005, Kath became a Medical Futures Award finalist and co-inventor of the Be Smart Cart, ‘a sensory room in a box’, she established The Sensory Project, an online information website for adult service users and parents. Her understanding of the significance of ASI as an intervention available to Occupational Therapists and drive for evidence-based practice and passion related to supporting her clients is paramount and resulted in her leaving the NHS in 2007 to establish an independent practice, Mind Body Brain Connections. In 2007 ‘In recognition of her clinical ability, innovative spirit and passion to develop Sensory Integration approaches for mental health settings’, she was awarded ‘Occupational Therapist of the Year’ by the British Association of Occupational Therapy/College of Occupational Therapists, the same year receiving a Medical Futures and UnLtd Award for her ‘Be Smart Cart’ and ‘Parenting Through the Senses’.
Kath joined the SI Network lecturer team in 2006, working alongside Ros Urwin, Consultant Occupational Therapist, to develop an SI with Adults course for the SI Network. ln 2010 she went on to chair the PR and Marketing Portfolio for the Network. An accredited lecturer with University of Ulster, and later Module lead for SI 2/3 and remit for course development including the Master’s Modules (SI Module 1 and 2/3) she has actively engaged in developing learning and teaching, both face to face and online. Kath is considered a leader within ASI in the UK and internationally; she has contributed to the evidence base of ASI with research, tools, and resources. Kath continues to speak nationally and internationally at conferences and training events, including ESIC to enhance and inform clinical practice of ASI in clinical populations across the lifespan. She is a key player in an RCT national study (SenITA) researching the impact of intervention related to SI for children with autism and is the EASI Northern European Lead responsible for the UK and Ireland normative data, reliability, and validity studies.
Kath’s current project is about working with the people to explore and communicate the importance of sensory integration for mental health; for reframing behaviour, treating trauma and early deprivation, reducing self-harm, improving self-regulation and building resilience – promoting and sharing ways to implement Ayres’ Sensory Integration and sensory strategies to enhance mental health and wellbeing and participation in everyday life.