Charmaine Zubal is an occupational therapist from Qatar.
Taking the opportunity to be a candidate at the first International Sensory Integration Conference (ISIC) was an easy decision for me. My reasons are linked to the following:
I had already booked my place at the World Federation of Occupational Therapist Conference, which was to be held four days prior to the ISIC. South Africa has been high on my list of places to visit and last but certainly not least, I am a trained SI (Sensory Integration) Occupational Therapist, presently working in a Children’s Special Needs Centre, based in Doha, Qatar with on-going optimism of meeting like minded therapists.
My journey as a specialist Paediatric OT commenced soon after completing my SI training in the UK where I worked within hospital and school settings. I find the sensory integrative approach to be very effective in treating children diagnosed with autism, as well as other developmental disorders, including sensory processing dysfunction, physical and learning difficulties.
The challenges that I encounter on a daily basis whilst working with children who experience sensory processing difficulties are not dissimilar to any other place in the world, however, my current working environment differs greatly from being in the UK. The cultural and environmental structure within Qatar, forces children as well as adults to develop their coping strategies and their ability to self-regulate. Children however, and especially those with a “special needs” diagnosis will often find it more difficult to develop these skills; often requiring specialist input at which point parents will seek the guidance from SI trained therapist.
For any trained SI therapist there are times when specific cases require further guidance for best possible outcome. To keep myself abreast with the available evidence relating to SI / ASI, I have continued to be a member of the SI Network UK and Ireland and I regularly communicate with other SI trained colleagues.
Attending the ISIC has not only broadened my networking opportunity but has provided me with new insights into how Ayres’ Sensory Intervention (ASI) research and practices are currently progressing around the world as well as what the future may look like for me as a practitioner.
Charmaine Zubal, Head of OT / PT Dept.
Mind Institute, Doha, Qatar.