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Coffee and Chat: Ayres’ SI and Learning Disabilities

Tonight’s Coffee and Chat is all about Ayres’ SI and Learning Disabilities with special guest working in the field of learning disabilities across the lifespan.

Come and Listen to our practising therapists and experts explore assessment tools, the role of consultation and how to deliver services that draw on the theory and practice of Ayres’ Sensory Integration.

Join us tonight 3 March 2021 at 7.30pm.

Book your FREE place now on Eventbrite.

Read about the application of Ayres’ SI in Learning Disabilities on this reference and reading list below.

Papers here include from therapists, Ros Urwin, whose Master’s in 2005  was the first UK study to investigate ASI with adults with learning disabilities in the UK, our colleague Rachel Daniels, whose work in this field was the focus of a research project and Ciara McGill, who we had the pleasure to teach on the journey that led to her Master’s Study publication with Ulster University.

  1. Cahill, S.M. and J. Pagano. 2015. Reducing restraint and seclusion: the benefit and role of occupational therapy. American Occupational Therapy Association.

  2. Champagne, T. and N. Stromberg. 2004. Sensory approaches in an-patient psychiatric settings: Innovative alternatives to seclusion and restraint. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing 42(9): 35–44.

  3. Daniels, R. 2015. Community occupational therapy for learning disabilities: The process of providing Ayres sensory integration therapy and approaches to this population. Birmingham: European Sensory Integration Conference. www.iceasi-org

  4. Department of Health. 2012a. Department of Health review: Winterbourne View hospital interim report. London: Department of Health.

  5. Department of Health. 2012b. Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital: Department of Health review final report. London: Department of Health.

  6. Department of Health. 2014. Positive and proactive care: reducing the need for restrictive interventions. London: Department of Health.

  7. Gay, J. 2012. Positive solutions in practice: using sensory focused activities to help reduce restraint and seclusion. Victoria: Office of the Senior Practitioner.

  8. Green, D., Beaton, L., Moore, D., Warren, L., Wick, V., Sanford, J. E., & Santosh, P. (2003). Clinical Incidence of Sensory Integration Difficulties in Adults with Learning Disabilities and Illustration of Management. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(10), 454–463

  9. Lillywhite, A. and D. Haines. 2010. Occupational therapy and people with learning disabilities: Findings from a research study. London: College of Occupational Therapists.

  10. Leong, H. M., Carter, M., & Stephenson, J. (2015). A systematic review of sensory integration therapy for individuals with disabilities: Single case design studies. Research in developmental disabilities, 47, 334–351.

  11. McGill, C & Breen, C. 2020. Can sensory integration have a role in the multi‐element behavioural intervention? An evaluation of factors associated with the management of challenging behaviour in community adult learning disability services. British Journal of Learning Disabilities.

  12. Royal College of Psychiatrists. 2013. People with a learning disability and mental health, behavioural or forensic problems: The role of inpatient services. London: Royal College of Psychiatrists.

  13. Transforming Care and Commissioning Steering Group. 2014. Winterbourne View – Time for change: Transforming the commissioning of services for people with learning disabilities [Bubb Report]. London: NHS England.

  14. Urwin, R., & Ballinger, C. (2005). The Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Therapy to Improve Functional Behaviour in Adults with Learning Disabilities: Five Single-Case Experimental Designs. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(2), 56–66. 

sensory integration leanring disabilities Ciara McGIll
Ciara McGill, Occupational Therapist

Click to access Reducing-Restraint-and-Seclusion-20150218.pdf

The effectiveness of sensory integration therapy to improve functional behaviour in adults with learning disabilities: five single-case experimental designs

Urwin, Rosalind and Ballinger, Claire (2005) The effectiveness of sensory integration therapy to improve functional behaviour in adults with learning disabilities: five single-case experimental designs. British Journal of Occupational Therapy68 (2)56-66.


This paper describes a research project using a single-case experimental design (A-B-A), which aimed to explore the impact of sensory integration therapy (SIT) on level of engagement and maladaptive behaviour (measured through timed scores) and function (using Goal Attainment Scaling, GAS) for five learning disabled adults with tactile sensory modulation disorder.

Each phase lasted 4 weeks and consisted of 24 measurements in total. Individually tailored SIT was given twice weekly for 4 weeks during the intervention phase (B), immediately prior to each individual’s participation in his or her prescribed horticulture task. The changes between phases in engagement, maladaptive behaviours and function scores, measured as the difference between baselines and intervention, were analysed visually and statistically for each participant.

The intervention produced significant improvements in engagement for participant four, with a highly significant deterioration in scores for all five participants on withdrawal of SIT. All the participants’ maladaptive behaviour decreased significantly on the introduction of SIT. Although there was no significant change to GAS scores for four participants, participant four’s score improved significantly with SIT. The withdrawal of SIT resulted in a highly significant deterioration in GAS scores for participants one, two, four and five. This study may be the first to suggest that SIT is effective in improving functional performance in adults with a learning disability with a tactile sensory modulation disorder.

Click to access Resource-OT-and-Learning-Disabilities_0.pdf

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Research Update: Older Adults and Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration and Older Adults

Click to access 12877_2021_Article_2032.pdf

Executive dysfunctions mediate between altered sensory processing and daily activity performance in older adults

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Coffee and Chat: All things ADHD

Join the ASI Wise Team and hear more about how therapists use Ayres’ SI to consider neurodiversity when working with clients across the lifespan. Hear about Aniesa Blore’s newly published book “The Conundrum Child”.

This Coffee and Chat will also think about the newly published “Recommendations for occupational therapy interventions for adults with ADHD: A consensus statement from the UK Adult ADHD network“.

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Free CPD Resource: Podcasts for Schools OT’s

Listen to these amazing podcasts from OT School House including two by our partner organisation CLASI’s founders; world experts Dr Zoe Mailloux and Dr Susanne Smith-Roley.

You will be able to download a compatible way to listen to these depending on the device you use.


In episode 63 of the OT School House Podcast, Jayson interviews a leader in the sensory integration community. Dr. Susanne Smith Roley, OTR/L, OTD, FOTA joins the podcast to talk about how she came to know and love both occupational therapy and sensory integration. We also talk a bit about the history and future of SI. We even address the difficult topic of how and why sensory integration has been criticized over the years within the profession and Dr. Roley provides great insight into the research and fidelity within sensory integration. We finish off this podcast with a discussion on Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs). Listen in for a valuable experience! Click here to listen:


In this episode, Jayson interviews Dr. Kelly Auld-Wright, OTD, OTR/L, on how to go from sensory evaluation to treating a child using sensory integration and sensory strategies in a school setting (You know, without the whole gym setup).  Kelly starts off right where Dr. Zoe Mailloux left off in Episode 25 and explains what type of patterns we should be looking for and what to do when we see those patterns. Listen in to learn more about Kelly and how she uses sensory integration treatment and sensory strategies to benefit the students she works with. Click here to listen:


In this episode, Jayson interviews Dr. Zoe Mailloux, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA on the importance of completing a comprehensive evaluation in sensory integration. Since being a research assistant for Dr. A. Jean Ayres, Dr. Mailloux has gone on to author more than 30 published journal articles and has taught courses on Ayres Sensory Integration(®) all around the world. She is also a professor in the doctoral program at Jefferson University in Philadelphia and has worked with many organizations on understanding the importance of sensory integration in all individuals. Listen in to learn more about Zoe and all of the incredible knowledge she has to share about sensory integration. Click here to listen:


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Recommendations for occupational therapy interventions for adults with ADHD: A consensus statement from the UK Adult ADHD network

“Sensory Integration theory links neurological processes to functional behaviour, whereby sensations from within an individuals body and their environment are processed to enable them to participate in everyday life.” Adamou et al 2021

The consensus aims to provide practical guidance to occupational therapy professionals working with adults with ADHD, drawing on the scientific literature and the professional experience of the authors. To achieve this, professionals specialising in ADHD, convened in London at an experts workshop called “Occupational Therapy and Adult ADHD” on the 10th February 2017.

The event was hosted by the UK Adult ADHD Network (UKAAN). UKAAN is an organisation founded in 2009 by a group of mental health specialists in response both to the NICE guidelines and to recommendations from the British Association for Psycho-pharmacology that aims to provide support, education, research and training for mental health professionals working with adults with ADHD.

Presentations on the 10th February written by Occupational Therapists Kath Smith and Dr Teresa May-Benson informed this consensus statement.

Click to access Adamou-et-al-2021.pdf

Download here: Adamou-et-al-2021