My name is Colette Nuttall and I’m a physiotherapist, based in Manchester. I’m at the beginning of my sensory Integration journey, having completed SI module 1 online in August 2017. It was tough going at times but I’m hooked and keen to learn more. So with this in mind, I decided to attend the SI Autumn Conference in Birmingham earlier this month. I was a little daunted - would I be out of place as someone only just embarking on their SI journey? What if there were lots of super intelligent people, talking about clever things that went right over my head?! My determination to learn outweighed my worries though and I’m glad it did!
The conference was welcoming with a strong sense of community right from the start. I’ve never been the most confident learner, always taking things slowly and with trepidation and if I’m honest, often feeling intimidated by more knowledgeable peers. Instead of these feelings though, I found myself applauding the newly qualified advanced practitioners and thinking that just maybe I could get there one day. There was acknowledgment of the dedication required and the difficulties of studying whilst juggling work and family commitments, but I got such a sense that with the support and encouragement in the room, there would be many others receiving their certificates in the future.
Gina Daly passionately shared about her own journey through the SI Modular Pathway, which has led to her embarking on a PhD, and again it was encouraging that, step by step, it is possible. Over lunch, it was quite different from usual conference experience where you are often faced with awkward chat and balancing a plate of soggy sandwiches on your knee. There was the opportunity to sit down, share a meal and exchange experiences with others. There was no sense of hierarchy, but a willingness to listen and learn from each other, swapping recommendations of good books and websites and making connections. I was also able to meet with my module 1 e-mentor, Cathy Maguire, in person. Cathy had got me through the summer as I was working my way through SI 1, and having the opportunity to say thank you face to face was so good!
At the conference, it was clear from the whole day and in the closing presentation that there is a determination to develop both the ‘quantity and quality’ of ASI practitioners, so that we are in the best position possible to be able to make a lasting difference. Listening to the experiences of Sam Marshall, a service user, speaking with Clare Omoyele, about just how life changing SI has been to her was really powerful, confirming how important it is that we are committed to learning and sharing together.
Laura Graham and Ali Neal, as they talked about their work with traumatised children, reminded us that “The future depends on what we do in the present” (Mahatama Ghandi), true for the people we want to support, but also for us in our personal journey too. I genuinely left the day feeling inspired, encouraged, excited about the future and glad that I’d been able to be part of the day.