What is Ayres’ Sensory Integration®?
Dr A. Jean Ayres was an Occupational Therapist, who completed post-graduate education psychology. She was the first person to suggest difficulties registering, interpreting and responding to sensory information could interfere with activities of everyday life, calling her newly developing theory Sensory Integration. She also clearly described ‘sensory integration dysfunction and developed ways to assess and address these difficulties, calling it ‘Sensory Integration Therapy’.
Ayres’ Sensory Integration® (ASI) has been trademarked to describe when people use the theory, ways of assessing and doing the therapy that she first developed. Time has passed since she did this work in the 1950s and 1960s. Her theory has continued to be built on, evidenced by supporting neuroscience.
Therapists use Ayres’ Sensory Integration as part of comprehensive profession-specific clinical reasoning, use the ideas and theories that have grown out of her work to describe sensory strengths and challenges and how these contribute to an individual’s participation in everyday life. When they do this, they are using the body of knowledge of Ayres’ Sensory Integration and research.
This includes ways of assessing sensory integration and processing challenges and difficulties, underpinning hypothesis generation to understand, describe and making links between how a person integrates sensory information, and how this impacts on the person’s participation in everyday life.
Ayres’ Sensory Integration® (ASI) is used specifically to describe the intervention method that Jean Ayres’ developed. “individually tailored sensory-motor activities contextualised in play” (Schaaf and Mailloux 2015, p.105) A tool called the ASI Fidelity Tool gives therapists a way of thinking about and outcome measurement how closely what they do is true to the ideas and therapy principles developed by Ayres’ and her successors.
The use of the ASI Fidelity Tool (Parham et al 2011) is improving research methodology; providing a ‘manualised therapy’; able to be clearly described and defined in current research and reflective clinical practice.
Lane et al 2019 in their recent paper examine
“core constructs of ASI, as articulated by Ayres, reflected in the context of contemporary neuroscience. Specifically, we consider the neuroscience foundations of ASI in the areas of sensory perception (vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile systems), the relationship of these to ocular, postural, bilateral integration, and praxis functions, and the construct of sensory modulation. We close by discussing neuroplasticity as the key mechanism of lasting neural change as a result of ASI intervention. Throughout, we consider how current research verifies and clarifies Ayres’ propositions.”
- Ayres, J. (2005). Sensory Integration and the Child (25th Anniv). Los Angeles, CA, Western Psychological Services.
- Baltazar Mori, A. et al (2017) Building Competency in SI : Evidence-Based Guidelines for Occupational Therapy Using Ayres Sensory Integration ®. OT Practice Magazine, (Sensory Integration Education Issue).
- Lane, S. et al (2019). Neural Foundations of Ayres Sensory Integration®. Brain Sciences 9(7):153 · June 2019
- Parham, D. L., Smith Roley, S., May-Benson, T. A., Koomar, J., & Brett-Green, B. (2011). Development of a Fidelity Measure for Research on the Effectiveness of Ayres Sensory Integration intervention. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
- Schaaf, R. C., & Mailloux, Z. (2015). Clinician’s Guide for Implementing Ayre’s Sensory Integration. Bethesda, The American Occupational Therapy Association.