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I graduated as an occupational therapist from Trinity College in Dublin in 2012. After that I moved to London and started working in a SEN primary school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other intellectual disabilities.
Working in the school environment every day I noticed early on the impact that sensory processing difficulties has on pupils’ participation in learning and play. I trained to become an SI practitioner, through Sensory Integration Education, in order to gain a greater understanding of sensory integration theory and to increase my knowledge of and skills for using evidence-based assessment and intervention guided by theory in order to better inform my practice.
The knowledge and skills I gained from these courses has been so valuable when working with this population and influences my clinical practice in the school setting in many different ways, for example when:
Recently I have also started working with Sensory Integration Education as part of the team sourcing and sharing relevant resources and literature with their members and followers in order to stay update on current practice.
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I currently work as a Senior Paediatric Occupational Therapist as part of a Primary Care Community Team in Cork, Ireland. My role involves working with children aged 0-18 years with various needs to develop skills to perform the purposeful activities that make up everyday life. Primary care occupational therapy aims to help children to be as independent as possible in their everyday lives.
My interest in Sensory Integration was sparked on my paediatric placement when observing my educator using this frame of reference in practice. I was intrigued by the coalescence between neuroscience and occupation. Following my OT degree graduation from University College Cork, I pursued my sensory integration training with Sensory Integration Education and have continued this journey throughout my career to date.
I previously worked for almost two years in the Child Development Centre with the Central and North West London Trust with children with disabilities and complex needs, neurodevelopmental concerns, learning difficulties, developmental delay, motor co-ordination difficulties and high-risk pre-term infants at risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. Prior to this, I worked in a special needs children’s school, college and children’s home with children with various moderate to severe learning difficulties and challenging behaviours.
Having recently completed Sensory Integration Module 4: Advanced Treatment, I feel that my knowledge base of neurology and its applications in sensory integration intervention have improved. My confidence in my ability to deliver ASI intervention has developed through my learnings on the course, my reading and analysis of the literature and my journey with my clients.
A new paper* on the link between deficits in visual-somatosensory (VS) integration and poor mobility is pertinent for therapists working with older adults.
The authors hypothesized that cognitive impairment, as found in people with dementia, is associated with reduced VS integration which will, in turn, impact on balance and the somatosensory system.
After a study of 345 older adults, the authors concluded that cognitive impairment influences multisensory integration, which adversely impacts balance and gait performance in aging. They recommend that future studies should aim to uncover the precise neural circuitry involved in multisensory, cognitive, and mobility processes.
*Jeannette R Mahoney, Joe Verghese, Does Cognitive Impairment Influence Visual-Somatosensory Integration and Mobility in Older Adults?, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, , glz117, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glz117
Hannah Molesworth, an autism awareness campaigner, explains in this insightful Women’sHealth article how she was misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression and even anorexia, before finally being told, at the age of 23, that her challenges were due to autism.
Hannah explains that some of the sensory challenges of autism led one doctor to diagnose anorexia when, “While it was true I’d been avoiding food, it had nothing to do with control; I just had an aversion to foods with a mushy texture.”
It is widely thought that women with autism are under diagnosed because most studies have been conducted on male volunteers and so researchers better understand how autism presents in men. It has also been speculated that women are better at masking the condition's symptoms, and so slide under the radar more frequently.
Now an active campaigner working to raise awareness of autism and break the preconceived ideas of what an autistic person should be like, Hannah runs the Instagram account doilookautisticyet .
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UK department store John Lewis & Partners in Peterborough has donated 14 sensory dolls to the Tanglewood Cedar Falls care home in Spalding for residents living with dementia.
With a weighted beanbag belly and soft limbs, the dolls are very lifelike and aim to reduce agitation and stress in people living with dementia. Residents feel as though they are holding and caring for a real baby, reports Spalding Today.
Sam Jackson, the assistant manager at the care home, said: "They really calm the residents down," and explained that they like to sit, chat to and care for the dolls.
The donation was organised by Simon Ragsdell, whose mother lives at Cedar Falls and who extensively fund-raises throughout the year for the care home. The generous donation of the dolls comes after Simon, who works part time for John Lewis, bought four sensory dolls last year for the home’s residents living with dementia with funds he raised.
enables individuals, families, health professionals and others to undertake research and evidence-based assessments of their environment. The app provides recommendations on design improvements to support people living with dementia.
NHS approved app, Talk Around It Home, is a speech and language therapy app for anyone with word finding difficulties. It can be used to treat conditions such as aphasia, anomia, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer's and autism.
Memory box! aims to serve as a memory aid and a conversation inspiration to support relatives and caregivers of those living with dementia. It contains visual, musical and written tips for conversations and memory support of famous events and topics during the 20th century.
A number of people with dementia will have some form of sensory impairment (such as sight loss, hearing loss or both). People with both sensory impairments and dementia are likely to have additional difficulties with their communication. However, there is still a lot you can do to help them communicate effectively. See more information in this useful guide from the Alzheimer’s Society.
There are lots of sensory opportunities in this NHS leaflet on exercises for older adults. Can you pick out the vestibular, proprioceptive and visual challenges and see how these could be incorporated into sensory sessions for seniors?
52 Weekly Group Session Plans for Working with Older Adults
by Sophie Jopling and Sarah Mousley
This book provides session plans for group sessions for people with a variety of abilities including dementia to support memory, sensory function, confidence, communication, connection, as well as overall physical and emotional well-being.
by Mary Colley
This practical resource will be of use to adults with Dyspraxia, the professionals and families members who come into contact with them as well as those who simply wish to learn more about Dyspraxia.
by Diarmuid Heffernan
Learn how the senses work and how sensory systems can function differently for people with ASD, leading to sensory perceptual issues. Practical strategies and creating a unique 'sensory plan', based on frequently encountered environments and situations, will help any adult with ASD to overcome these sensory difficulties.
Finding suitable equipment for SI-based sessions with older adults and mental health populations can be challenging. We love this simple, inexpensive pedal exerciser for gently graded, proprioceptive work. Risk assess first for suitability.
Blogger Jenna Grace is a neurodivergent writer and educator with sensory processing disorder (SPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) diagnoses. In this post, she offers 16 ways that she uses to unwind and get to sleep easier.
“I find that there are things I have to do throughout the day, at night before bed and while in bed to prepare my body and my mind for sleep,” says Grace.
For example, Grace recommends different physical movement for different periods of the day: “I typically do cardio around noon and yoga in the afternoon and right before bed. I also find that using my weighted blanket during the day helps my regulation remain consistent. As does heavy lifting, bodywork or anything that regulates my tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive senses.”
Read her post here.
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Sensory Integration Education, Old Breedon School, 8 Reading Road, Pangbourne, RG8 7LY, UK
We are a not for profit organisation. SI Network (UK & Ireland) Ltd trading as Sensory Integration Education. Established 1994.
Company registration no: 05068304 Copyright 2019