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Research update: Forest design for mental health promotion—Using perceived sensory dimensions to elicit restorative responses

Forest design for mental health promotion—Using perceived sensory dimensions to elicit restorative responses, research into the qualities of the natural environment which promote restoration

forest design for mental health promotion - research update

download full article – open access pdf here  

 

gray bridge and trees

 

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Sensory (and people) avoidance may be an appropriate adaptive response.

It turns out that some animals have changed their habits to survive competition with humans for space and resources humans. And it’s a relatively recent phenomenon.

This got me thinking about our lives and I reminded of the question I ask when lecturing. It will give my age away but it’s relevant. When you grew up, how many devices or appliances in the home were electric, hummed, whites, bleeped or transmitted a tiny blue or green or other flicking light. For those of us my age in South Africa where I grew up, TV didn’t arrive until I was already at school. I can count the appliances that created sounds and visual distraction and competed for my time and attention on just two hands – and I can’t even use up all my fingers!

Like the precious animals who are adapting to man’s machines, signs, mobile masts, planes, boats, trains and everything else we send into their work through avoiding us, many people might choose avoidance too – and do we judge this as an appropriate adaptive response?

No, because man is supposed to be a social creature who needs attachment and relationships to survive – but sometimes because of the way someone is wired and their sensory hyper-reactivity, perhaps these social relationships are worth sacrificing and loosing to ‘just survive’ – to just feel safe within one’s own skin without being constantly bombarded and overwhelmed.

If you were wired like this 100 years ago, you would have been able to still find a life or job role that matched your neurological diversity more closely. Nowadays this is becoming increasingly impossible unless one escapes to a desolate island – and these are few and far between.

Many of my clients shop in 24-hour stores at 2am to avoid others, while younger clients say they wake and eat at night when the “don’t have to hear others chew’ or have to “watch and hear them chew their food and then wipe their faces”  [face grimace and full body visceral response of disgust] !

https://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/animals-are-becoming-nocturnal-to-avoid-humans

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Research Update: Atypical sensory processing and social impairments and Autism.

The link between sensory integration difficulties, restrictive repetitive behaviours and Autism has been written about and been the subject of studies for a while. However, many professionals have considered the social impairments of Autism to be completely independent to sensory processing differences. This article challenges that view.

Read more here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929316301736

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Research Update: A systematic review of ayres sensory integration intervention for children with autism.

The lay summary of this published systematic review is an excellent introduction to this paper. This peer reviewed published article is a good resource to share when evidencing the effectiveness of ASI for children with Autism.

“Ayres Sensory Integration intervention is one of the most frequently requested and highly utilized interventions in autism. This intervention has specific requirements for therapist qualifications and the process of therapy. This systematic review of studies providing Ayres Sensory Integration therapy to children with autism indicates that it is an evidence‐based practice according to the criteria of the Council for Exceptional Children.”

see https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2046

Stevenson and Carolinas have provided a critique of the publication – you can request it here.

A very helpful response has been provided by the authors comprehensively addressing all the concerns raised – you can request it here.

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News story – UK Government review to improve the lives of autistic children

“The government will collect evidence from autistic children, their families and their carers on how to improve the support they get… Supporting people on the autism spectrum or with learning disabilities is one of the 4 clinical priority areas in the NHS long-term plan…”

Read more on the UK government website gov.uk 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-review-to-improve-the-lives-of-autistic-children

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Choosing Wisely ® and ASI – a fantastic initiative from AOTA – it got me thinking about why people think sensory is easy and just anyone can do it.

Just like a parent can decide a child has a cold and needs Calpol, a sensory rich home environment can help support development. However just like a child may need a Dr, Dentist or other specialist if they have a more serious illness, what some people need is specialist intervention.

Sensory Integration therapy requires years of training, first just to become a therapist and then the advanced training needed to accurately assess, develop a personalised intervention plan and then carry out the intervention. We might all know when tonsils need removing, but few of us would do it at home. Telling someone about how tonsils get removed or how sensory integration happens is very different to actually doing it, and doing it safely and so that the outcome is as expected. Sensory integration therapy is not just about swinging on a swing or bouncing on a ball – it is about so much more. And is definitely not about just about wearing headphones and having a bouncy cushion.

The superb article from AOTA’s CHOOSING WISELY programme – see link below – got me thinking. I get weekly emails from people offering to treat other people’s children without training, offering Sensory Profile assessments by mail from a questionnaire when they are not even a therapist.

Share this blog and have interesting discussions with clients, colleagues and line managers. As relevant here in UK and Ireland as in US. This really confirms what we teach in our modules and promote as an organisation; including the best standardised norm referenced tool currently at our disposal – the SIPT. No or limited assessment waters down efficacy. Standardised assessment (when possible) structured clinical observations and thorough clinical reasoning using a clear process are imperative. Data driven decision making.

https://www.aota.org/AboutAOTA/Membership/Tools/Periodicals/choosing-wisely-sensory.aspx

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Sensory-Based Eating Difficulties Research

ARE YOU THE PARENT OF A CHILD BETWEEN THE AGES OF 4 and 12?

We have received a request to help find research participants from a group of parents whose children experience issues with eating. They would like to know more about how eating is related to children’s emotional behaviour and sensory sensitivity.

The group have worked in collaboration with Prof Jackie Blissett (Aston University) and Dr Terry Dovey (Brunel University) to design some research and now they need your help!

This questionnaire will ask you about your child’s eating, their emotional behaviour and how sensitive they are to noises and textures and should take you no longer than 15 minutes to complete.

Your cooperation is appreciated.

http://parentingsciencegang.org.uk/experiments/mealtime-hostage-research/

mealtime hostage

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EASI Update

Therapists across the globe are collaborating, giving of their time and energy to develop a new assessment tool to comprehensively assess sensory integration difficulties.

This is the final call for therapists wishing to join the team for the UK and Ireland EASI ( Evaluation of Ayres’ Sensory Integration) normative data collection project. You can read more about this global initiative, Goal 2 of the ASI 2020 Vision here.

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See more about the EASI  – click on the image below or this link: powerpoint slides from Dr Suzanne Smith Roley.

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Introduction to the Evaluation in Ayres Sensory Integration® (EASI).

Mailloux Z1Parham LD2Roley SS3Ruzzano L4Schaaf RC5.

Abstract

Comprehensive, reliable, and valid assessment is essential for individually tailored, appropriate, and effective intervention planning and implementation. Research, education, and practice using an Ayres Sensory Integration® (ASI) approach have a long history of prioritizing comprehensive assessment. To meet the need for a set of tests that will fully evaluate the constructs of ASI with psychometrically strong, internationally appropriate, and easily accessible measurement tools, the development of the Evaluation in Ayres Sensory Integration®(EASI) has been initiated. This article introduces the EASI, describes the overarching plan for its development, and reports the results of promising preliminary analyses of discriminative validity data.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29280717

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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!