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An introduction to Ayres’ Sensory Integration

Sensory integration…the ability to organize sensory information for use…perception and synthesis of sensory data that enables man to interact effectively with the environment.’

Jean. A. Ayres (1972)

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Ayres’ Sensory Integration combines theories and concepts from human development, current neuroscience, psychology with occupational science into a holistic framework through which we can consider a person’s development, learning and behavior. 

Integrating sensory input is essential for development, it underpins learning and ensures we can participate in daily life, helping us to ;

  • make sense of and join together cues in the environment
  • ‘do the right thing at the right time and in the ‘just right’ way’ – moving and using our bodies to get things done
  • be aware of what goes on within our own bodies;
  • know who we are – where we stop and start and where others begin
  • manage emotions and self -regulate
  • interact with others and the world around us – and safely

Here is a great resource to share with therapists, teachers, and families new to  Ayres’ Sensory Integration to help explain Ayres’ SI in more detail.

Thank you to Ms Grieco and Ms Wooldridge for sharing this on YouTube

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Workshop: Ayres’ Sensory Integration for Health and Wellbeing

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.

We can also offer 2 or 3 day onsite bespoke training and consultation for your organisation to support the development of sensory integration informed care pathways.

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The Importance of the Sensory Environment for Premature Babies

Read more about one family’s journey through neonatal intensive care and what they have learned about the impact of the sensory environment on the developing nervous system of premature babies in this blog post By Anna Lee Beyer

 

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Neuroplasticity Infographic

This beautiful and detailed infographic originally created by Alta Mira, San Francisco, is a great introduction to neuroplasticity you can see the infographic below and read more about it here

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https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/this-nifty-infographic-is-a-great-introduction-to-neuroplasticity

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The next step in my learning journey starts this week…

IMG_E8636I’m so excited that 3 years after starting my postgraduate training in Ayres Sensory Integration, I have finally been able to take the next step in my journey and this week I have started to study the materials for ASI WISE CLASI CASI Module 2 online, with face to face M3 later in August.

Next year will mark 20 years since I completed my Master’s degree in medicinal chemistry and I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to return to academia by studying occupational therapy. I love the parallels and overlaps between the theory in chemistry and neuroscience, and how both subjects challenge me to understand how microscopic unseen worlds impact on everyday life in tangible ways.

I am enjoying all the fresh challenges and the immense opportunities which the new ASI WISE CLASI CASI offers; blended learning combining digital and online learning (including the chance to be part of an international global community) alongside face to face hands on learning – putting the theory into practice, while thinking about local, regional and national challenges with lectures from the U.K. and Ireland. At university, the research and evidence-based practice modules give me the opportunity to reflect on how far I have come and I am inspired to use both my upcoming final year projects and my learning and work with ASI WISE to both explore and contribute to the latest most up to date research in ASI – including development of the EASI.

I have a long way to go and a lot to learn, I am so thankful to everyone who has supported me so far and for those who continue to guide me especially my mentor Kathryn Smith and the teams at Ayres’ Sensory Integration WISE and Collaborative for Leadership in Ayres Sensory Integration – CLASI for making all this possible.

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Right now, just to match the beautiful colour scheme, I’m celebrating with a new purple folder and some yummy purple chocolates!

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CPD on the Sofa: Research in Neuroscience in the Future.

Where is neuroscience going in the future, how will we get here? Sam Rodriques talks to us about problems with current research methods, and why outcomes for clients haven’t changed in years. He proposes what the year 2100 might look like from the weather, to vacuum cleaners and finally what we will know more about Alzheimer’s and how we got there using more up to date risk-free methods.

 

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Research Update: Additional occupational therapy considerations for functional neurological disorders: a potential role for sensory processing.

Delighted to see this research article cited below as at the Merlin MS Centre in Cornwall Ayres’ Sensory Integration is a regularly used approach with adolescent and adult clients with functional neurological disorders.
At the Merlin MS Centre, as well as assessment using Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT), Ayres’ Clinical Observations and the Adult/Adolescent Sensory History, we use the Model of Human Occupation Screening Tool and the Berg Balance Scale which, while part of comprehensive assessment, as provide us with valuable pre and post outcome measures.
For more information about this research see: Click here
Citation:
Ranford, J., Perez, D., & MacLean, J. (2018). Additional occupational therapy considerations for functional neurological disorders: A potential role for sensory processing. CNS Spectrums, 1-2. doi:10.1017/S1092852918000950
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Supporting Practice – Your Questions Answered: Why did Ayres’ not consider the visual system?

So I was just asked “Why didn’t Ayres consider and put more importance of the visual system? I was a bit perplexed and so explored this further with the therapist asking the question. The OT explained that she has been taught that Ayres did not consider the visual and auditory systems and that this means that for School OT’s where many difficulties link to visual processing deficits, learning the SIPT is not a useful and that therapists should instead use other tools linking vision to motor skills like the Bruinicks or Movement ABC alongside TVPS or VMI to ensure they understand and consider visual deficits.

This OT is not the first person to ask this question, so here is a bit more information about the visual system in Ayres’ Sensory Integration, and her understanding about the impact of sensory integration difficulties on academic learning.

” Those of us who study the overt behavior of children with academic deficiencies, and, at the same time, try to keep informed on related neurological research, are making an effort to interweave both approaches to knowledge into a theoretical structure which may be used as a provisional basis for treatment of children with learning problems.”

Ayres 1964 re-printed in Ayres 1974

The Sensory Integration and Praxis Test(SIPT) has 2 tests that are motor free and directly assess visual skills; Space Visualisation (SV) and Figure-Ground (FG), and 4 more that further explore visual skills in conjunction with other sensory systems and contribution to function; Manual Form Perception (MFP), Design Copy (DC), Constructional Praxis (CPr) and Motor Accuracy (MAc).

SV         5                    Motor-free visual perception; mental rotation

FG         2                    Motor-free figure-ground perception

MFP       14                  Recognition of forms held in hands; visualization

DC         4                    Visuopraxis; two-dimensional construction

CPr        3                    Three-dimensional visual space management

MAc       6                    Eye-hand coordination; somatopraxis

Jean A Ayres’ absolutely understood the importance of the visual system, her papers, books, and the SIPT manual make clear reference to this. Ayres did not consider vision just in terms of assessment, but also in how she recommended intervention approaches that would address deficits in the visual systems ability to support participation in daily life.

“Visual perception of the external world is at least partially dependant upon adequate perception of the construction of one’s own body or body scheme. The ability to perform complex motor tasks is dependant on mastery of the ability to do certain basic motor planning. Acquiring these two kinds of ablities occur sumultaneously and the acquisision is mutually dependant…

…any child who is severaly deficient in visual-motor function should begin…by learning to roll over, initiating motion by looking at a bright object placed at the side. This is an early step in ocular control…

…a recreational game through the ingenuity of the supervisor of the activity…

…The use of the eyes along with the body is essential, for it is the beginning of the dvelopment of one of the fundamental uses of the eyes – the guiding of total body action.”

Ayres 1961 in Ayres 1974

Research data from the SIPT and its predecessor, the SCSIT clearly showed the emergence of a pattern linking visual and movement difficulties called visuo and somatodyspraxia;

Read more here:

Verification and Clarification of Patterns of Sensory Integrative Dysfunction

Patterns of sensory integration dysfunction in children from South Africa

Correlational study between structured clinical observations and the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test

In her seminal work, Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders, Ayres 1972 discusses the importance of the development of Form and Space Perception, summarising the significant work of the time by Goins, Punwar, Frostig, and others. She describes the underlying neuroanatomy of visual perception, and it’s development in man. Ayres concluded the chapter exploring theories of dual modes of vision, advanced by Trevarthen, Gibson, and Held in the late 1960’s, before describing treatment approaches to develop form and space perception.

“…it is appropriate to close a therapeutic session which emphasized somatosensory and vestibular stimulation with task that focus on visual form and space perception. It is anticiapted that the earlier treatment enhances the capacity for visual perception and that sitting still while engaged in visual perception tasks helps quiet the child before he leaves the therapy area.”  Ayres 1972

from Chapter 15 – Sensory Integration and Visual Deficits, including Blindness in the book Sensory Integration with Diverse Populations written by Smith Roley, Blanche and Schaaf published in 2001.