I was fortunate to discover Ayres Sensory Integration®(ASI®) during my OT training at McGill University (Canada). There, I had a mandatory course in paediatrics that included an overview of ASI®. I remember how our professor explicitly informed us that we needed advanced post-professional training to use this approach. I was fascinated by the work of Ayres as I recognized many traits in myself; my fear of heights started to make sense!
My lucky streak continued with my first employment. There I met Marie-Josée Tessier, an OT trained in ASI®. I remember my first day on the job when she proudly showed me the recently acquired Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT). She spoke to me about how the SIPT was helping her better understand children’s difficulties. Marie-Josée was a role model for rigorous evaluation and clinical reasoning. I feel extremely fortunate to have had this methodology drilled into me as young therapist.
I continued to train in ASI® with the WPS-USC program and later opened my own private practice. During this time, I met Dr. Eduardo Ramos, a seasoned paediatric gastroenterologist who became aware of sensory reactivity and perception issues in many of his patients with stool toileting refusal. We started combining OT/ASI® and medical approaches and helped many children overcome chronic defecation disorders that were not responding to conventional treatments.
In 2010, I met Dr. Shelly Lane at R2K, an international sensory integration conference held for more than 10 years in Southern California. Dr. Lane encouraged me to pursue research in the area that I was developing with Dr. Ramos. Since then, Dr. Lane and I have published several papers together and I have earned a PhD thanks to her expert guidance.
Over the years in my work as an OT, hundreds of families have benefited from ASI® and the deepened understanding that this approach brings. In my work as a lecturer of ASI®, I have also witnessed how training in the SIPT and other standardized assessment tools helps young OTs deepen their understanding of children’s difficulties and leads to better interventions that target both underlying issues and participation challenges.
So when asked about ASI®, I am filled with gratitude as I ponder upon a fulfilling career tightly link to the work of Dr. Ayres. Furthermore, my involvement in the International Council for Education in Ayres Sensory Integration (ICEASI) and the data collection efforts for the Evaluation in Ayres Sensory Integration (EASI) is giving me a glimpse of the bright future that lies ahead of us!
Isabelle Beaudry, BSc OT