Our two day workshop is a “great opportunity to reflect on clinical practice and learn new skills”. Find out more about the application of Ayres’ Sensory Integration beyond childhood to support health and wellbeing.
Back to school is just around the corner. School can be tricky for young people with sensory integration challenges, and especially those first few weeks in a new schools, classrooms, with new teachers and sometimes new classmates. New uniforms and shoes can be challenging also.
Practising these exercises at home over the next 2 weeks may help young people have some ways to reduce anxiety and provide the brain with calming proprioceptive input. Get everyone in the family practising at breakfast and dinner time so those brain networks learn and know how to do these when they are most needed – in times of high stress. Mum and Dad doing these in front of everyone when they feel stressed will make them OK and something everyone does when they are bothered by tricky things.
This handout is available to download and print out – and despite the title, they are suitable for all ages. These ideas can be used at home, school, work and out and about.
Here are some great hand-eye coordination activities for clients across the lifespan – some are especially good for teens! Try these with tweenies and teens with difficulties with sensory-motor coordination, to get them off devices and outdoors over the summer.
In 2010 Shelley Lane published a study that concluded that 54% of children with ADHD have sensory over-responsivity. In 2014 Shimizu, Bueno and Miranda compared 37 children with and 37 children without ADHD using the Sensory Profile to see if there was any relationship between sensory processing difficulties and presenting behaviours in children with ADHD.
They compared the ADHD groups Sensory Profile scores to behavioural symptoms assessed using the Child Behaviour Check List and the Behavioural Teacher Rating Scale.
The study results suggest children with ADHD have more difficulties (than those without ADHD) processing and modulating sensory input. They also have more behavioural and emotional responses (11/14 sections and 6/9 factors). The Sensory Profile scores moderately negatively correlated with scores on the Child Behaviour Check List and the Behavioural Teacher Rating Scale.
Their study shows us that children with ADHD may present with sensory processing impairments, which are possibly contributing to inappropriate responses and that in future, we need to know more if we are using Ayres’ Sensory Integration to help and support young people with ADHD.
The ASI Wise lecture team have been at Abbot’s Lea School in Liverpool this weekend with a fantastic group of committed and enthusiastic occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and teachers exploring the use of sensory strategies and Ayres’ Sensory Integration therapy to support children, young people and adults mental and wellbeing health.
Experiential learning opportunities, embedded into the course, help participants to understand their own sensory systems and to experience the challenges that the people they are working with face on a daily basis.
With a mixture of classroom-based and hands-on practical learning, participants explored how to use the spaces and environment available in both school and clinic to support regulation and praxis. The workshop provided an opportunity to hear about the theory and practice of Ayres’ Sensory Integration, it’s application supporting those with autism, ADHD and dyspraxia, with up to date research and evidence supporting practice.
To find out more about our courses and learning here
We are so grateful to Abbot’s Lea School who have allowed us to use such a beautiful spacious venue. The three lovely well-lit rooms allowed us to create a pop-up sensory clinic, where participants had space to move about; extra room to break into groups supporting learning and the sharing of ideas. The school staff and local therapist volunteer support team have been incredibly welcoming and supportive, helping the workshop to run smoothly. As a bonus, the sun has shone all weekend which has allowed us to use the outdoor spaces, we have spotted a few daffodils and blossom trees around the city – it feels like spring is on its way.
Thank you to our volunteer therapists who helped to make the weekend such a success.
This article from the New York Times talks about the importance of break time and free play to school children. Children often lose break time because they haven’t completed work or as a consequence for an undesired behaviour.
“…Recess also plays an important role in the ability to maintain self-control during class time. Self-control is not an unlimited resource, and by the time unstructured play rolls around, most children have depleted their reserves. They have had to resist the temptation to wiggle, eat the piece of cookie someone left on the carpet or talk to their friends in favor of focusing on math facts…”
This post is about a sensory project I found, making weighed snakes from recycled tights. I first discovered this project on Pinterest, and while most of the ideas I find there remain pinned to virtual idea boards, I couldn’t stop sharing this one, until someone challenged me to make it happen. This post is all about that process.
First though, a little about me. As a Children’s Occupational Therapist and mother of four children aged 12 to 6 years, there are many of times when 2 worlds collide. I often resist the urge to over-examine my own kids and develop hacks to make them more independent. And it’s hard to escape my husband’s protests that if the kids are struggling with anything, I must have “brought it in from work” and should fix it. This is especially true of the sensory issues… especially my daughter who hates certain clothes and hair brushing and who has literally turned her need to spin into gymnastic prowess.
This takes me back to Pinterest and the weighted tight snake, whose sheer genius seemed undeniable. I had assessed children for years and at times had recommended weighed products for those children. The extra deep pressure provided by weight isn’t for everyone but the kids I met who liked to sleep under all the stuffed toys on their bed or who would climb into the dog’s bed with the family dog for cuddles had already discovered for themselves that it made them feel better: more calm, more alert. Some teen girls who struggled with the unbearable feeling of tights had told me that when they used something weighed as well as other strategies, they could wear certain tights that they usually couldn’t tolerate. At our house, my daughter’s main struggle with dressing was how to get dressed for school when the weather grew cold and it was time for tights. So I collected my daughter’s rejected tights and ordered some weighed beads and planned my project, which I will share with you so that you might have a go at creating some of your own.
You need / I used:
A pair of rejected tights
Something to fill them with (weighed beads, rice, lentils etc)*
Pins (not 100% crucial but they will help to hold things in place, especially if you don’t sew often)
Matching buttons 2 or 4 (if you want eyes)
Felt/fabric (if you want a tongue)
Velcro (one leg will be the inner layer, the second will protect it and can be sealed with Velcro)
*a note on filling- if you choose dried food, like uncooked rice or lentils, they might sprout or worse if the snake gets wet UNLESS you commit to a strategy like using the bags banks give you to sort coins into to place the filling in (you will definitely need a strategy like this if you have a kid who likes to chew things, like my son)
Here we go!
Cut the legs off the tights as high as you can for a long snake
Decide if you want your snake to be
straight (you will need to then cut off the feet at the heel and sew the ends together)
or if you don’t mind a slightly foot shaped snake, you are ready to fill!
Fill the snake with the material of your choice (see * above if you need help to decide)
How much to fill
Remember to leave space to bring the ends together (preferably
To add channels or no (stripes)
Use the other leg to pull over the first as a protective layer
Fold and pin a small hem and then stitch one end shut
If you want a tongue, remember to stitch it in now
Add button eyes (if wanted) -I am partial to using 2 buttons each eye so that you have a white part with a black center
At the other end, you will create a small hem and sew down and then attach Velcro to.
I learned the hard way that using one long Velcro strip makes it harder to get the weighed snake inside its cover, use two or more smaller Velcro pieces
Pull your cover over your snake / weighted tight leg.
Your weighted snake is now ready to regulate- enjoy!
Many children may have difficulties with self-regulation, especially those who have had tricky starts; including from traumatic illness, accident, trauma or neglect.
Increasingly OT’s are using Ayres’ Sensory Integration in combination with CBT( Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), adapted DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) and Attachment based approaches in CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental health Services) and other paediatric roles to assess and provide intervention.
These two books are a valuable additions to the bookshelf, with great ideas to inform practice and support time between therapy sessions.
The study Sensory Processing in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the Home and Classroom Contexts was undertaken in Spain. It explored the use of the SPM asking if it could identify sensory processing deficits and patterns on both the home and school forms. A useful study for therapists working in schools, where assessment may be limited to the use of reporting by others. The study includes helpful summaries of some of the literature supporting the use of Ayres’ SI with children with ASD and ADHD.
Sanz-Cervera P, Pastor-Cerezuela G, González-Sala F, Tárraga-Mínguez R, Fernández-Andrés M-I. Sensory Processing in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the Home and Classroom Contexts Frontiers in Psychology. 2017;8:1772. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01772.
Abstract: Children with neurodevelopmental disorders often show impairments in sensory processing (SP) and higher functions. The main objective of this study was to compare SP, praxis and social participation (SOC) in four groups of children: ASD Group (n = 21), ADHD Group (n = 21), ASD+ADHD Group (n = 21), and Comparison Group (n = 27). Participants were the parents and teachers of these children who were 5–8 years old (M = 6.32). They completed the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM) to evaluate the sensory profile, praxis and SOC of the children in both the home and classroom contexts. In the home context, the most affected was the ASD+ADHD group. The ADHD group obtained higher scores than the ASD group on the Body Awareness (BOD) subscale, indicating a higher level of dysfunction. The ASD group, however, did not obtain higher scores than the ADHD group on any subscale. In the classroom context, the most affected were the two ASD groups: the ASD+ADHD group obtained higher scores than the ADHD group on the Hearing (HEA) and Social Participation (SOC) subscales, and the ASD group obtained higher scores than the ADHD group on the SOC subscale. Regarding sensory modalities, difficulties in proprioception seem to be more characteristic to the ADHD condition. As for higher-level functioning, social difficulties seem to be more characteristic to the ASD condition. Differences between the two contexts were only found in the ASD group, which could be related to contextual hyperselectivity, an inherent autistic feature. Despite possible individual differences, specific intervention programs should be developed to improve the sensory challenges faced by children with different diagnoses.