The SENSORY INTEGRATION INVENTORY REVISED FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES is available from Therapro.
Developed by Judith Reisman and Bonnie Hanschu, in 1992, but just as relevant today. This assessment tool was developed in collaboration with OT’s who worked with people with severe and profound learning disabilities, who could not cooperate fully in more formalised testing of their sensory integration.
The guidebook gives a rationale for the inclusion of each item in the Inventory, as an indicator of sensory integration difficulties. It also provides an alternative, sensory explanation for behaviors that challenge staff teams and carers, that are often presumed to be primarily learnt, behavioural or psychosocial in origin.
We recommend the User’s Guide as a learning tool for all novice sensory integration students as it provides down-to-earth examples that help explain many sensory integration concepts.
Is your stress changing someone else’s brain? A research study by Jaideep Bains and a team at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), at the University of Calgary, has suggested that stress can be transmitted from one person to another, changing the brain of the other person too. The study shows that social contact by female mice reverses the effects, but not for male mice.
It is so disappointing to once again read research about Ayres’ Sensory Integration purporting to examine ASI versus other therapies, reporting ASI does not have an effect. This is especially important when there is an evidence for ABA, the behavioural intervention in these studies possibly resulting in trauma.
There is a growing evidence base, not just for the existence of sensory integration difficulties and sensory processing difference across the lifespan and across a range of different clinical presentations, but also for the therapy as developed by Jean A Ayres.
Intervention studies that provide evidence sensory integration may be effective include Pfeiffer et al 2011 and most recently a systematic review by Schaaf et al 2018 also examines growing evidence in support of ASI.
“evidence is strong that ASI intervention demonstrates positive outcomes for improving individually generated goals of functioning and participation as measured by Goal Attainment Scaling for children with autism. Moderate evidence supported improvements in impairment-level outcomes of improvement in autistic behaviors and skills-based outcomes of reduction in caregiver assistance with self-care activities” Schaaf et al 2018
Recently there has been a spate of research comparing ASI to other behavioural approaches. Sadly, what is described as ASI is most definitely not. Spinning someone 10 times one way and then the next, with a few pushups thrown in, is not Ayres’ Sensory Integration!
If you read or report studies that say that ASI doesn’t work compared to other therapies for Autism, please do so very very carefully. Those of us properly trained in ASI, to postgraduate level, as per the International Council for Education in Ayres Sensory (ICEASI) guidelines read the descriptions of what is delivered, we do not recognise it as being ASI therapy. This therapy was carefully researched and developed by Jean Ayres, and overtime has been researched and further developed including the development of the ASI FIdelity Tool (Parham et al 2011).
A parent who works in advertising and marketing pointed out to me that if what is written in these studies was on a website advertising these behavioural services instead of ASI, their description of ASI and their claims may be grounds for an argument for false advertising!
Ayres’ Sensory Integration is a very specific therapy, carried out in a very specialist way, but very experienced clinicians who plan and deliver intervention only after person-specific assessment. The individualised intervention is determined and driven by the clinical data that is collected and analysed as part of the assessment, and ongoing observations and reflection are essential to the intervention.
Ayres’ Sensory Integration is about specific, personalised and targeted assessment and therapy; it includes the setting of goals and the measurement of outcomes. The therapist needs to have specialist, typically postgraduate, education in Ayres’ Sensory Integration, in line with internationally agreed standards as agreed by ICEASI.
This feature article was written by Claire Smith, one of the first UK OT’s to deliver Sensory Integration alongside Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). I am delighted to introduce Claire to you, as she was one of the first people I ever lectured about how to apply Sensory Integration’s in Mental Health. That was way back in 2004 and tonight she features on a BBC Documentary – Girls on the Edge.
Here is what Claire would like to add about how Ayres’ Sensory Integration can be used when we work with adults who have trauma and related sensory integration challenges.
As a DBT therapist and SI Practioner I am fortunate to be able to deliver a full DBT programme, alongside an inter-disciplinary DBT team, provide ASI intervention and use sensory strategies that I believe make a real difference to people’s lives.
We combine sensory strategies with DBT skills that support young people to self-regulate and reduce high emotional arousal. These are personalised and individualised to each young person forming part of their positive behavioural support care-plan. Sensory strategies are often used to help young people become ‘talking therapy ready’ prior to starting DBT. There is much stigma around mental health and what it means to be in a secure unit.
Three teenage girls and their families will be sharing their stories and lookIng at the impact on families in a documentary on Thu 22nd Feb, Girls on the Edge, at 9pm on BBC2. Their bravery, openness and honesty helps to break some of this stigma.
The programme has footage of some of the activities offered at FitzRoy House and features glimpses of a number of OT’s I work with providing meaningful occupations and supporting young people in their journey to recovery.
As OT’s using Ayres’ Sensory Integration, we are mindful of her early work which reminded us of the importance of sensory input in developing the mother-infant bond, a building block which she saw as essential for emotional stability alongside sensory-motor and sensory-perceptual skills that underpin our ability to engage in purposeful activity.
Ayres’ recognised the importance of being able to take in, process and integrate sensory input not just for activity and praxis but also for future health and well-being, including the development of self-esteem, self-control, and self-confidence.
I am constantly amazed by her vision and insight, and how she built on the seminal and emerging neuroscience of her peers, how she valued this work of others and built on it, leaving a legacy that has continued to be developed and researched by others since her.
A lovely article “The Neurobiology of Attachment to Nurturing and Abusive Caregivers” by Regina Sullivan summarises more recent literature and helps remind us about and understand more why positive experiences or nurture from the primary caregiver are essential. This nurture is experienced through the senses, and when what is experienced is not as it should be, in early phases of critical development, it irrevocably changes the brain.
” a mother’s sensory stimulation of the infant is the hidden regulator of the infant’s physiology and behavior”