My name is Alison Dear and I’m a Speech and Language Therapist. My workplace is a special school in Luton and many of the pupils on my caseload have an additional diagnosis of autism and or ADHD.
I began the Sensory Integration Network’s modular pathway in 2011. Although I only planned to complete module 1, I immediately realised that the sensory integration perspective could help me understand some of my most complex clients. I completed my MSc. in sensory integration in 2017 and have been a mentor for both Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists in the Sensory Integration Network’s modular pathway.
My particular area of interest is the relationship between anxiety and sensory integration difficulties, particularly tactile and auditory hyperreactivity, which can be major barriers in developing communication and interaction skills. This was an area I explored for my MSc. which gave me an opportunity to consider literature from a wide range of sources. I was fascinated by the links between the auditory and tactile systems. Since attending and listening to presentations at the Network’s conference in November, I have also been asking myself questions about the relationship between sensory integration and attachment.
I use my SI knowledge on a daily basis. This may be in the process of assessing a pupil, delivering therapy or working with a class team. Taking a sensory perspective when supporting a class team can enable them to consider a student’s behaviour in a different way. This in turn can support them to develop a classroom environment where students are more able to engage.
Learning and continuing to learn about the process of sensory integration has become one of the most important parts of my working life - I can’t imagine a day without it!