Kathryn Smith, (Kath), Consultant Occupational Therapist.
Clinician, Innovator, Lecturer, Mentor, Research Active EASI UK and Ireland Lead
and mum, puppy entertainer, beach walker and gardener
In 1993 Kath first postgraduate learning about Sensory Integration started while she is working in secure CAMHS service and a school specialising in South Africa. After moving to the UK in 1996, Kath co-authored assessment tools and skills cards within the Special Parenting Service in 1997.
In 1999, Kath initiated development and delivery of Sensory Integration (ASI) services, tools and resources, for use with older adults, adults, and adolescents and teens, in the areas of learning disability, including secure forensic clients. In 2001 Kath moved into acute mental health in Cornwall, developing the use of DBT and Sensory integration to support clients with trauma, including developing Sensory Ladders and the Be Smart Programme with the application cooking, horticulture and a sensory gym.
A 2005 Medical Futures Award finalist as co-inventor of the Be Smart Programme and Be Smart Cart, ‘a sensory room in a box’, Kath establishes The Sensory Project – an online information resource website for adult service users and local support and education for parents; Parenting Through the Senses is born.
These developments were recognised by SI Network, who in 2007 invited Kath to joined the SI Network team, to develop and lecture the application of SI beyond childhood, alongside Ros Urwin, also exploring the development and use of her parent programme ideas for the SI Network suite of workshops.
Kath’s understanding of the significance of ASI as an intervention available to Occupational Therapists and drive for evidence-based practice and passion for supporting her clients resulted in her leaving the NHS in 2007 to establish an independent practice, Mind Body Brain Connections. ‘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’.
From 2010 Kath chaired the PR and Marketing Portfolio for the Network, launching their social media presence. An accredited lecturer with University of Cardiff and then the University of Ulster, Kath was also Module Lead for SI 2/3 and later Director for Learning and Development she was actively engaged in exploring and developing innovative learning and teaching methods, combining face to face and online technology and trialling telehealth for rural clients.
Since then, Kath has contributed to the evidence base of ASI with research, tools, and resources. Kath continues to lecture and teach nationally and internationally at conferences and training events, including ESIC (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017) and ISIC (2018) to enhance and inform clinical practice of ASI in clinical populations across the lifespan. Kath and Ros have taught therapists working with adults from across the globe including from the UK and Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Finland, Malta, Romania, Greece, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia, Australia and South Africa.
A member of the ICEASI working groups before it was formally established as an organisation in 2018, Kath is passionate about education standards in Ayres’ Sensory Integration. She is a member of the ICEASI Committee, representing therapists from the UK and Ireland.
ASI Wise was established in 2017 with Kath as a founding Director. This organisation was established to deliver Ayres’ Sensory Integration education to occupational therapists in the UK and Ireland. This organisation delivers the CLASI CASI . Kath is the EASI Lead for UK. She is involved in researching the impact of intervention related to SI for children with autism and is the EASI Northern European Lead.
Kath’s remains passionate about working with the people to explore and communicate the importance of sensory integration for mental health and wellbeing; for reframing behaviour, and reducing the impact of 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.
The clinic pictured here was developed to use ASI to support mobile and non-mobile adult and older adult clients access sensory integration therapy equipment. Clients using this clinic space at the Merlin MS Centre in Cornwall include those with MS and other neurological conditions including dementia. The application of Ayres’ Sensory Integration theory for those receiving neuro-rehabilitation post stroke and TBI has been a strong focus, shaping the therapy approach used at the Merlin MS Centre in Cornwall.
Randell, E., McNamara, R., Delport, S. et al. (2019) Sensory integration therapy versus usual care for sensory processing difficulties in autism spectrum disorder in children: study protocol for a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. Trials 20, 113).
Shankar, Smith and Jalihal (2013) Sensory processing in people with Asperger syndrome. Learning Disability Practice; 16:2
Brown, Shankar and Smith (2009) Borderline Personality & Sensory Processing Impairment, Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry: July/August
Brown S, Shankar R, Smith K, et al. (2006) Sensory processing disorder in mental health. Occupational Therapy News 2006; May:28-29.