My name is Steph Simpson and I am the proud mother of Thomas who is 7 years old and has Williams Syndrome. By profession I’m a Chartered Engineer and had no awareness of SI, but when Thomas was a baby, I met a new friend at a local Parent and Toddler Group. Although I didn’t know it at the time, she is an SI-qualified OT. This serendipitous friendship was the start of my SI journey. It’s not been a straightforward one, but, in spite of SI Therapy not being commissioned by my local NHS Trust, my Son’s need for a Sensory Diet and weekly SI Therapy now appears in his EHCP. He is happy, he is making good progress at school and life is so much better than it would have been without this essential support.
Immediately after Thomas’ sensory needs were assessed, we were given a Sensory Diet for him. Simply following this diet made a life-changing difference to my family. I was struck by the enormous impact that even a small amount of SI knowledge could have in the hands of the people who live with and support Thomas. Since then, I have read – lots and I have attended many SI Therapy sessions with my son. It was last year that my friend mentioned the Sensory Integration Education’s Autumn Conference and reassured me that it was indeed for everyone – not just therapists. So I booked my place early and it was well worth the wait.
In my professional life, I gauge the value of a conference not just by how much I learn on the day, but by how much more I want to learn afterwards. After all, I don’t know what I don’t know until I attend an event like this. The Autumn Conference was simply the most compelling event that I have ever attended. I don’t pretend to have understood every word that I heard, but that’s the fun of it – there is so much more to learn and I came away feeling certain that I should enrol on the Module 1 Course.
My other reflection is a more melancholy one: Every single day, my family benefits from the world of SI that was only opened to us by a single, chance friendship. In the county where I live, there is no easily accessible means by which other children (or adults) with SI needs can even have these identified, let alone met. Knowledge is truly powerful - it is a catalyst for change - and that is why the work of the SIE is so critically important.