In this 2022 article; “Muting, filtering and transforming space: Autistic children’s sensory ‘tactics’ for navigating mainstream school space following the transition to secondary school.”, the take-home messages are:
There are sensory challenges in mainstream school environments for ASD children.
Working with young people post-transition to secondary school has highlighted these challenges.
Sensory challenges exist across the school environment: Classrooms, lunch halls, playgrounds and even corridors can feel overwhelming.
Muting, filtering and transforming space ‘tactics’ are ways that young people deal with feelings of sensory overload.
Teachers, parents and therapists can use this understanding of these sensory tactics to support the design of more inclusive school spaces.
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.
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.
Cahill, S.M. and J. Pagano. 2015. Reducing restraint and seclusion: the benefit and role of occupational therapy. American Occupational Therapy Association.
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.
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
Department of Health. 2012a. Department of Health review: Winterbourne View hospital interim report. London: Department of Health.
Department of Health. 2012b. Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital: Department of Health review final report. London: Department of Health.
Department of Health. 2014. Positive and proactive care: reducing the need for restrictive interventions. London: Department of Health.
Gay, J. 2012. Positive solutions in practice: using sensory focused activities to help reduce restraint and seclusion. Victoria: Office of the Senior Practitioner.
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
Lillywhite, A. and D. Haines. 2010. Occupational therapy and people with learning disabilities: Findings from a research study. London: College of Occupational Therapists.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Therapy, 68(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.
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.
As children and young people go back to school here is a reminder of a fantastic resource from Inner World Work.
This parent and carer online resource and support site, explains how children with trauma might respond and react in difficult situations – see this example.
Beautifully illustrated and easy to read it is a great way to help teachers and other adults, who come into contact with children living with trauma, to understand a little more about what might be going on inside when children are in the protective survival states of fight, flight, freeze or submit.
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 also be a challenge.
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.