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Research Update : Decoding Touch Sensitivity in Autism

“The inability to tolerate light touch is a telltale feature of autism and one of the disorder’s many perplexing symptoms. It has defied treatment and its precise origins have remained somewhat of a mystery.

Now, a study led by investigators at Harvard Medical School’s Blavatnik Institute has not only identified the molecular aberrations that give rise to heightened touch sensitivity in autism spectrum disorders but also points to a possible treatment for the condition.”

Read more here

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Keeping little ones barefoot can encourage a strong foundation for optimal development of the brain and nervous system.

Rather than buying expensive baby shoes, keeping little ones barefoot whenever safe and possible will encourage the development of their nervous systems. Read more in this article by Kacie Flegal, D.C.  here

toddler climbing on wall

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Ayres’ Sensory Integration Therapy and Parents.

Does Ayres’ Sensory Integration only recently encompass working in collaboration with parents? No.

Jean A Ayres absolutely recognised the importance of empowering parents and parent education to most effectively help children with sensory integration difficulties. She absolutely understood the value of psycho-education and what parents can do at home.

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from Sensory Integration and the Child, Ayres 1979.

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What’s the SP3D?

We have had many members ask questions about this new assessment that was presented at ESIC this year. It was available at ESIC on  pre-order through WPS, the company that also sells the SIPT Test.

The test is based on the Miller 2007 SPD “New Nosology”. UK normative data does not yet exist for this test, and the normative data collection is currently being undertaken in the USA.

Sensory Processing 3 Dimensions (SP3D) Assessment. The SP3D Assessment is an unpublished performance measure of sensory modulation, sensory-based motor disorder, and sensory discrimination disorder. It consists of activities similar to those encountered in daily life, specifically designed to elicit typical and atypical behavioral responses to sensation. The assessment provides structured opportunities and specific scoring criteria on which to base one’s determination of sensory processing status.

The activities on the assessment include those previously tested for reliability and Published by ScholarWorks at WMU, 2018 5 The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol. 6, Iss. 1 [2018], Art. 4 validity on the Sensory Overresponsivity scale (Schoen, Miller, & Green, 2008) as well as items that elicit sensory underresponsivity and sensory craving (Schoen et al., 2014) and new items tapping postural disorder, dyspraxia, and discrimination problems. Preliminary evidence supports the internal consistency reliability and discriminant validity of the scale as well as supporting the underlying structure of the behavioral scoring categories (Schoen et al., 2014).

taken from Schoen et al 2018

At ESIC 2019 held in Greece this year, Ros Urwin an ASI Wise Director attended the presentation about this new tool. She has shared her photos about the this new tool with the team at ASI Wise.

We have found these publications relating to the SP3D useful to help us know more about this new tool that we hope to try out later this year.


Introduction to this new test


Identification of Sensory Processing and Integration Symptom Clusters: A Preliminary Study


A Retrospective Pre-Post Treatment Study of Occupational Therapy Intervention for Children with Sensory Processing Challenges


Reliability Study

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Photo’s taken by ASI WISE Director Ros Urwin, who attended ESIC 2019 as our representative.

Coming soon updates about other existing assessment tools and those being developed, including the EASI.

ASI WISE recommends that therapists still learn the SIPT – not to just have a tool to use – but to really to deepen their knowledge and learning about the sensory systems and patterns of difficulty seen across our clinical populations, from a tool with a robust history and evidence base. Read more here: Why learn the SIPT when the EASI is in development and about to be published, I don’t want to waste my money?

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What is Ayres’ Sensory Integration Therapy?

At ASI Wise, to avoid confusion, we use the term sensory integration and processing difficulties. Different terms are used in different places to describe sensory integration difficulties. Some therapists may use sensory processing difficulties instead. Some may even use sensory processing disorder.

We currently have a robust test,  the SIPT, that allows us to describe sensory integration difficulties and reference research evidence to interpret the unique scores and pattern of scores that the child gets across 17 test items. We can use this data to inform our clinical reasoning, create a hypothesis about what sensory difficulties are contributing to participation challenges in everyday life. We set goals, plan and deliver the intervention, Ayres’ Sensory Integration Therapy measuring therapy outcomes. This is best practice.

“Active, individually tailored, sensory motor activities contextualised in play at the just right challenge, that targets adaptive responses for participation in activities and tasks.”

ESIC Schaaf 2019

Ayres’ Sensory Integration assessment and therapy is typically post-graduate education for Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Speech and Language Therapists. Please check that your therapist has ASI Education that meets level 2 education standards as recommended by ICEASI.

For more information about programmes offering Certification in Ayres’ Sensory Integration across the globe, please visit


Thank you Saša Radić – Kabinet aRTisINCLudum aRTis INCLudum for sharing these.

Read “Occupational Therapy Interventions for Children and Youth With Challenges in Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing: A School-Based Practice Case Example”  – one young person’s story from AJOT May 2019 here. [Frolek Clark et al 2019].

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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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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)

Screen Shot 2019-08-05 at 19.26.01

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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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] !

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Why a walk in a wood, forest or tree-filled park may be ‘just-right’ sensory input.

What is so magical about being in a wood, forest or tree-lined park?

It seems research may have the answers, and unsurprisingly, the benefits may be to do with the sensory opportunities of a tree-filled environment.

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“Other benefits are more subtle. Green, leafy trees can provide sensory relief in urban areas dominated by hard surfaces, right angles, glass and concrete, and intrusive, attention-seeking advertising.”

“The vibrant colours, natural shapes and textures, the fresh aromas and rustling of leaves in the breeze all provide distraction and relief from whatever it was you might have been thinking about, or even stressing over,” Associate Professor Feng said.

see Tree Canopy Rather Than Green Space Gives Nature’s Mental Health Benefits