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When Continued Professional Development becomes something more: Research for Ayres’ Sensory Integration

As Healthcare Professionals, lifelong learning and continued professional development is what we signed up for. We likely look through journals, keep reflective diaries, go on courses and may even attend conferences and congresses. Some of us have even found themselves presenting at those congresses or submitting abstracts for academic posters or taking post graduate qualifications.

For some of us, this gradual dipping our toes into CPD leads to us suddenly being afloat in academic work or workplace projects that have become research before we know it. Even those of us who have deliberately chosen a path of further certification or research may suddenly find that they do feel a bit adrift. We wonder how others are designing research questions, or choosing outcome measures, or finding grants to apply for, or improving their practice.

If you are lucky, you are part of a journal club or a supportive team, or you have a helpful supervisor or mentor that you can share ideas with. You may have found networks of professional that encourage you from education or other healthcare fields.

Regardless of where you are on the journey doing research about Ayres’ Sensory Integration, join our research network for therapists in the UK and Ireland practicing Ayres’ Sensory Integration and let’s support each other in our endeavours.




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Standardising the EASI (Evaluation of Ayres Sensory Integration): News from the North East EASI Team

In the North East we are collecting normative data for the EASI Project, part of the ASI 2020 Vision. This photo is from our first planning meeting about our contribution to standardising the EASI assessment.

The EASI has been developed by Zoe Mailloux, L. Dianne Parham and Susanne Smith Roley in the USA. Teams worldwide are assembling EASI test kits, learning how how to administer it and administering it to typically developing children so that it can be standardised.

We have learned a lot from other regions helping with the standardising of the EASI for the UK. At our meeting, 3 of our 4 testers met to plan what we needed to do;

  • We reviewed the tests and divided them up
  • We chose dates to practice all the tests together
  • We choose dates to complete our tests
  • We only need to test 15 children and have been delighted in all the interest in our region: therapists are volunteering to help out and parents are volunteering their children. If you would like to volunteer yourself or a child to participate, please search the EASI website or EASI FB page to get in touch.

Stay tuned to the EASI FB Page for more pictures and progress.

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Linking Autism with processing Social Touch

In her book, the autistic brain, Temple Grandin says “you can’t study autism without figuring out a way to categorise sensory issues”. She goes on to talk about the neurology behind her condition, linking her lived experience to the neuroscience of her brain.

So it is incredibly exciting when new ways of understanding the neuroscience of touch enhance our understanding of how those with autism experience touch. This article encourages us to think about how social touch (or affective touch) differs from the discriminative touch we all for daily tasks and explains the neuroscience of how both kinds of touch are registered and used by our brains.

This article describes the patients in medical literature whose life experience has taught us to think differently about touch. It introduces us to the studies that these thoughts have prompted, a wonderful reminder that there is always more to know.

Here is a link to the full article.

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Best Practice Guidelines? Analysing Novak and Honan (2019)

Novak and Honan (2019) published a paper in the Australian Occupational Therapy Journal which has caused controversy, which was discussed in an earlier Sensory Project blog post:

Particularly upsetting was a traffic light system which indicated that sensory integration therapy is a red light (or do not do) intervention but that ABA (short for applied behaviour analysis) could be viewed as a green light (or can definitely use) intervention.

This is especially concerning as ABA has been linked to PTSD. Testimonials from those who have had ABS therapy have told us about the negative affect they have found this therapy has had on their lives.

Recently, the US Government has issued a report worth sharing that adds further information about ABA and it’s usefulness, which is in contrast to Novak’s article. The report, about comprehensive autism care, found that at best ABA does not change symptoms and at worst, ABA worsens them:

We are keen to hear your thoughts about the Novak’s article and the traffic light system. Follow the link below and join the discussion:

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Sensory Integration Matters: Coping with Christmas with children and adults with sensory integration challenges

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year but also a stressful confusing time of year for our children. For children who are more comfortable with routine, everything is changing. Consider the following if Christmas feels stressful:

  • Stay at home – prepare relatives for different expectations
  • Spread visits over a longer time
  • Allow your child to leave the room
  • Make time to go outside
  • Minimise the build up to Christmas
  • Maintain routine
  • Only put up decorations just before Christmas
  • Avoid flashing lights
  • Don’t wrap presents individually
  • Don’t wrap presents at all
  • Put batteries in in advance
  • Share out presents over a few days
  • Give permission to open presents elsewhere – e.g. away from the giver – thank you cards can be sent afterwards
  • Choose food so it’s easy to prepare and comfortable for everyone to eat