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Research Update: Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD) and Pain: A New Perspective

Pain and sensory integration difficulties including sensory sensitivity are thought to be features in many disorders including CFS/ME and hyper mobility. Recent research and evidence is exploring the links.

Abstract “Sensory modulation disorder (SMD) affects sensory processing across single or multiple sensory systems. The sensory over-responsivity (SOR) subtype of SMD is manifested clinically as a condition in which non-painful stimuli are perceived as abnormally irritating, unpleasant, or even painful. Moreover, SOR interferes with participation in daily routines and activities (Dunn, 2007; Bar-Shalita et al., 2008; Chien et al., 2016), co-occurs with daily pain hyper-sensitivity, and reduces quality of life due to bodily pain. Laboratory behavioral studies have confirmed abnormal pain perception, as demonstrated by hyperalgesia and an enhanced lingering painful sensation, in children and adults with SMD. Advanced quantitative sensory testing (QST) has revealed the mechanisms of altered pain processing in SOR whereby despite the existence of normal peripheral sensory processing, there is enhanced facilitation of pain-transmitting pathways along with preserved but delayed inhibitory pain modulation. These findings point to central nervous system (CNS) involvement as the underlying mechanism of pain hypersensitivity in SOR. Based on the mutual central processing of both non-painful and painful sensory stimuli, we suggest shared mechanisms such as cortical hyper-excitation, an excitatory-inhibitory neuronal imbalance, and sensory modulation alterations. This is supported by novel findings indicating that SOR is a risk factor and comorbidity of chronic non-neuropathic pain disorders. This is the first review to summarize current empirical knowledge investigating SMD and pain, a sensory modality not yet part of the official SMD realm. We propose a neurophysiological mechanism-based model for the interrelation between pain and SMD. Embracing the pain domain could significantly contribute to the understanding of this condition’s pathogenesis and how it manifests in daily life, as well as suggesting the basis for future potential mechanism-based therapies.”

Read more here: Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD) and Pain: A New Perspective

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Why learn the SIPT when the EASI is in development and about to be published, I don’t want to waste my money?

We regularly get asked this and similar questions. Here is our reply
ASI WISE is absolutely committed to the EASI. Our Directors have been and are all involved in the development of the EASI and the global normative data collection of the EASI.
Please know that once you learn Ayres’ Clinical Observation and the SIPT on our current M3, you will be able to easily transfer learning to the EASI, including in future interpretation based on normative data currently being collected. You will also be introduced to the EASI where it is “in development” on our modules.
Our combination of online and face to face training is a modular programme run in conjunction with CLASI. It is very robust and will equip you with the research to practice not only in the UK and Ireland, but also abroad.
While your learning is considered post-graduate learning, including critique and analysis of research – this learning also includes hands on practical development of the knowledge and skills to be able to assess and treat a range of clients across the lifespan.
Learning ASI is a bit like learning to drive a car – some theory can be done online and from books, or in online chat sessions – but you do have to eventually get in a car and learn to drive with helpful supportive instruction, feedback and application in real life. 
What do people say about our modules?
“That it is a great course where you’ll gain practical knowledge on sensory integration. It is fantastic to have three amazing OTs to provide you with examples and assist understanding your case studies.” Samantha Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapist
“Do it! Have an open mind be curious brave don’t be afraid to discuss challenge and critique; it will change your practice! ” Lindsey Lead OT in Intellectual Disabilities
“A very good course, hands on, very well documented and the best professionals in Ayres Sensory Integration teaching.” Alexandra PT
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CPD on the Sofa: Early Experiences Shape Executive Function – (our own personal air traffic control system)

Executive function skills help us plan, focus attention, switch gears, and juggle multiple tasks—much like an air traffic control system at a busy airport.

This downloadable paper provides a great way of explaining executive function to teachers and parents, drawing on the latest neuroscience and research in early development. The air-traffic analogy makes is a great tool in the therapist tool box when education parents about the importance of early development, the environment in which we learn and develop and how to support and promote development, ultimately enhancing participation in all activities and occupations of daily life – you can download the free resource here: developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/building-the-brains-air-traffic-control-system-how-early-experiences-shape-the-development-of-executive-function/

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CPD on the Sofa: An Activities Guide for Enhancing & Practicing Executive Function Skills

Supporting development is everyone’s business. If you are a therapist practicing Ayres’ Sensory Integration, parent education and support between sessions with sensory rich activities to support development through ploy is likely to be a part of what you do. The resource includes downloadable printable activities guides for different ages, that will make great handouts for parents and teachers. Another great resource from Harvard..

Parents bringing their children to therapy are dedicated – no matter who is funding the therapy. A weekly commitment to therapy sessions while juggling family life will test even the most organised Mum or Dad’s diary and working day. Fun easy to do activities that can support therapy and provide ideas for what to do when the ideas run out are a bonus.

These activities in this resource from Harvard are just so much more. Research has shown that this collection includes age-appropriate activities and games that adults can use to support and strengthen executive function and self-regulation skills in children.

Follow this link for more information and access to these great downloads: developing-child.harvard.edu/resources/activities-guide-enhancing-and-practicing-executive-function-skills-with-children-from-infancy-to-adolescence/

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Resources Update: Sensory University

Sensory University offers discounted pricing on school supplies, special needs toys and equipment’s for autism. See and read more at sensoryuniversity.com/

We love the look of this great product for use at school…

Desk Buddy- a Multi Textured Tactile Chewable Ruler

This product may be a useful sensory strategy to help a child who constantly fidgets.

Their website describes how it was developed by a team of Occupational Therapist, School Teachers, and product engineers who combined efforts to create this product for use both at home and in the classroom.

“For children who are constantly looking for different textures to touch or “fidget” with, the Desk Buddy® is both practical and socially acceptable in a school setting. It is simply a ruler sitting on their desk. The desk buddy is constructed from an FDA approved material so its even safe to chew on if the need were to arise. Completely dishwasher safe, and naturally bacteria resistant. “Every Child Needs a Desk Buddy® Colors shipped at random. Special request will be honored if possible.

BP, latex and Phthalate free material, coloring, and flavor. FDA approved materials and dishwasher safe.”