Accredited, High-Quality Sensory Integration Courses
Around the world, our members and followers are living and working under the restrictions required by the COVID-19 pandemic but we can still reach out and support each other. Over the last 25 years, we’ve built a thriving, caring community of practitioners, students, academics, families, carers and people with diagnoses of sensory integration and processing difficulties.
You can access and contribute to our online communities 24/7 for free.
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SI Network Therapists Ireland and Northern Ireland
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SI Network Therapists Australia and New Zealand
Please find below an invitation to participate in research being conduction by Judy Goodfellow, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist and Advanced SI Practitioner. Please contact Judy directly if you would like to take part.
I would like to speak to family members or carers of adults with learning/intellectual disabilities who have received Ayres SI Therapy within the last 12 months, living in the UK. My project title is: 'Exploring caregiver perceptions of communication outcomes for adults with intellectual disabilities following Ayres Sensory Integration Intervention: a qualitative study'
For family members or carers:
Could you spare an hour of your time to share your views over the phone about ASI and communication? This qualitative study uses audio-recorded telephone interviews. Taking part is entirely voluntary and all data will be anonymised throughout the study. Please contact me on Goodfellow-J3@ulster.ac.uk and I will give you more information and ask for your consent to participate if you are willing to take part.
Are you a UK therapist and qualified ASI Practitioner who has provided ASI intervention to adults with learning disabilities, and could you help with recruiting family members or carers into this study? Please contact me on Goodfellow-J3@ulster.ac.uk and I'll give you more information about how you can help.
I understand that the timing for this study has landed within a restricted period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I appreciate that this will affect people in a variety of ways. This study carries no risk to COVID-19 due to being telephone interviews and email correspondence. I aim to interview a maximum of 10 participants, all within the UK.
This study has received full ethical approval from NHS North of Scotland Research Ethics Service [NoSRES] and Research and Development (R&D) Management Approval - Tayside (NHS Tayside).
Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner
We’re delighted to bring you this guest blog post from Susan Griffiths, ASD Occupational Therapy Lead for an NHS Foundation Trust, and SIE member and Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner:
“There are 12 million people with hearing loss across the UK – that is 1 in 6 of us (data obtained from Action on Learning). I am one of those people. I am a hearing aid user and lip reader and I rely on both to be able to communicate effectively with people, especially in my role as an Occupational Therapist and Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner.
As a deaf person and as an OT, I have always been aware of the impact the environment has on our disability. My SI training has further increased my awareness and understanding of how our environment can support or inhibit our sensory needs. If we do not get the environment right then our environment can be a significant barrier to everyday participation.
At the beginning of April 2020, one single change to the environment has made me more disabled than I have ever been in my life – the introduction of face masks! I could no longer use my lip reading skills to help me discriminate between different sounds and words to ensure that I interpret what I hear accurately. I had seriously underestimated how much I rely on lip reading until that ability was taken away from me.
This pandemic has really highlighted the lack of deaf awareness in our society. Why has it taken a pandemic to realise that face masks are a significant communication barrier, not just for the hearing loss population, but also for people with dementia, learning disabilities, and the very young children.
The UK government is not currently advising most people to wear masks, but this could change if the scientific advisers recommend it. The impact of more people wearing masks on our ability to engage in everyday activities once lockdown is relaxed, such as shopping, meeting friends for coffee, and attending therapy appointments, will be devastating!
The single flaw in the design of face masks is the fact that they are not see-through. On Twitter, an American college student generated a lot of interest after she shared a homemade clear mask that she made. However, this is only beneficial if it is recognised that every single mask needs to be a see-through mask, throughout society. In addition, for see-through masks to be used in health environments, they have to be economical and meet stringent standards to ensure they are safe and offer protection from viruses.
The reality is that this is not going to happen, at least not now during the pandemic when face masks and other PPE equipment are scarce. However, I do hope that in the future this is something that we can learn from and hope that see-through face masks become the norm.
Written by: Susan Griffiths @SusanGriffiths5
Each month we bring you a selection of journal articles related to sensory integration and processing:
This new research study found that sleep deprivation has profound effects on interoception and that disordered sleep is associated with altered interoception.
The results of this new research showed children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and Attention and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms showed greater variability of atypical sensory processing patterns compared with typically developing children. Low registration and sensory sensibility issues were more prevalent in the DCD group. ADHD children showed higher rates of low registration, sensory sensibility and sensory seeking, and all children in the co-occurring symptoms group presented sensory sensibility.
This research study investigated the link between Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) and Type 1 Diabetes. Results indicated that higher levels of SPS are found in individuals with Type 1 Diabetes than individuals without Type 1 Diabetes. These findings suggest the need to develop improved intervention and treatment processes for individuals with Type 1 Diabetes with consideration to their potential sensory processing sensitivities.
This study used the Sensory Profile questionnaire to assess behavioural responses to sensory stimuli and categorise sensory modulation disorders in children with active epilepsy (aged 4–17 years). The study found that children with epilepsy reported increased behavioural responses associated with sensory “sensitivity,” “sensory avoidance,” and “poor registration” but not “sensory seeking.” Comorbidity of ASD and ADHD was associated with more severe sensory modulation problems, although 27% of typically developing children with epilepsy also reported a sensory modulation disorder. The authors concluded that sensory modulation disorders are an under-recognised problem in children with epilepsy and that the extent of the modulation difficulties indicates an impact on children's ability to participate in daily life.
This research explored the link between premature births and the impact on daily functioning and behaviour in early childhood as a result of sensory processing difficulties. Researchers used Sensory Profile questionnaires, Test of Sensory Functions in Infants, the Miller Assessment for Pre-schoolers and the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test. The study indicated large scale differences in sensory processing; modulation, somatosensory processing and sensory-based motor processing in children who were born prematurely. These results may indicate the need for routine screening of sensory processing, and parent consultation should be considered in order to improve sensory processing and neuro-cognitive development from an early stage.
This article explores the outcome of Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) treatment on improving sensory processing and motor planning, in order to lay the sensory-motor foundation for improving grasp of objects, an important first step in developing functional hand use in Rett Syndrome. Loss of hand function skills is a typical characteristic of Rett Syndrome which impacts on the individual’s participation in self-care, play and school activities. The researchers explored the benefits of ASI intervention on reaching and grasping for children with Rett Syndrome. Results indicated small improvements in hand grasp following ASI intervention. These results indicate a foundation for furthermore in-depth research on the benefits of ASI intervention with Rett Syndrome.
This research study investigated the sensory processing, praxis and related social participation of children with Down syndrome with the purpose of contributing to a better understanding of the importance of including sensory integration therapy as part of intervention. A cross sectional study design was used and data was collected on 15 participants using the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM) Home Form. The researchers found that the majority of the children with Down syndrome included in the study experienced vulnerabilities in social participation (53.3%) and praxis (80.0%), whereas 100% of the children experienced vulnerabilities in sensory processing. The authors concluded that, whilst the results of this study contribute to the emerging understanding of the sensory processing, praxis and related social participation of children with Down syndrome, it is recommended that further studies on larger samples investigate this topic to corroborate these findings.
In this study, researchers investigated proprioception functioning in adults with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome; a group of connective tissue disorders characterised by joint hyper-mobility (joints that stretch further than normal), skin hyper-extensibility (skin that can be stretched further than normal), and tissue fragility.
This study explored the Sensory Processing of children aged 3-10 years who had experienced a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Information was gathered from caregivers though use of the Sensory Profile. Results indicated that children with a TBI mostly presented with sensory processing abilities outside of the typical range. These results provide proof of the need to incorporate sensory processing assessment in clinical assessments of children who have experience a TBI.
There is growing evidence to suggest that children with neurodevelopmental disorders may evidence differences in their sensory processing. The aim of this study was to compare sensory processing patterns in three genetic syndromes associated with sensory difference.
Our thoughts go out to all of you who have been affected by the unprecedented situation with Coronavirus (COVID-19). For 25 years our mission has been to support and educate our community of practice in order to improve the lives of those with sensory integration and processing challenges. We want to reassure you that we will continue to do so, with some essential changes to ensure the health and wellbeing of all involved.
We know that the coming months are filled with uncertainty and we want to help support you as best we can. Via our social media channels, we will continue to share practical advice on working with or caring for people with sensory processing and sensory integration difficulties. See the links to our channels at the bottom of this page.
We also have an SI Parents Group on Facebook where you can communicate with other sensory families, share experiences and ask questions.
Many of you will have altered home and work circumstances due to requirements to socially distance. Some of you may suddenly find you are caring for someone with sensory challenges without accessing the normal school and therapy resources.
What is better understood is better managed. We are very mindful that these are uncertain times and in order to best support you we’ve dropped the price significantly on our two popular online introduction courses. Both are aimed at anyone wanting to understand how sensory challenges arise, how they impact on behaviour and suggestions for sensory activities and changes to the individual’s environment you can make.
Online Introduction to Sensory Integration Difficulties
4 hours of content using slides with voice-over, animations, videos, quizzes and many resources to download. Was £49, NOW ONLY £10 UNTIL 30 JUNE 2020.
Online Introduction to Sensory Integration Difficulties For Schools
Relevant to homeschooling parents too! 4 hours of content using slides with voice-over, animations, videos, quizzes and many resources to download. Was £49, NOW ONLY £10 UNTIL 30 JUNE 2020.
For our OT, PT and SLT members, we are continuing to run our online SI Practitioner training pathway. You can study online to train as an SI Practitioner and Advanced Practitioner, all the way through PGCert and PGDip qualifications to an MSc in Sensory Integration - all accredited by a UK university. Find out more about how you can gain these qualifications by studying from home.
Online SI Module 1: Foundations and Neuroscience - extended booking deadline
For therapists wishing to start their first step to becoming a qualified SI Practitioner, we’ve extended the booking deadline for this first module to 3 April. The module starts on 27 April 2020.
Applying SI Therapy Principles With Older Adults Live Online Training Day: 24 April 2020
Open to all, this training event will be of particular interest to therapists new to sensory integration, as well as nurses, social workers and other health and social care workers delivering therapy or care to older adults. You can access and interact with this live-streamed training event via the internet. Our experienced lecturer, a practising Advanced Practitioner will present an overview on the ways in which therapists and carers can combine Sensory Integration therapy into personalised and everyday life activities for those living with organic brain disorders, such as dementia. Was £95, NOW ONLY £45.
We are also working on bringing you further online courses over the coming months.
Remember that we offer interest-free monthly payment plans: if you’d like to discuss extending the length of the payment plan to reduce the monthly cost, please just get in touch. We accept the following currencies: GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD and USD.
Our Support Team are working remotely and are still on hand to answer your questions: email@example.com
Take care of yourselves, those you care for and your communities.
Sensory Integration Education
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Is it possible for therapists to train online to become SI practitioners? That’s what we asked ourselves a few years back, as a training and education provider in SI Therapy since 1994. After careful research, we concluded that, yes, the taught component of education in SI could certainly be moved from the traditional classroom to innovative online learning courses incorporating videos, vignettes and interactive challenges, facilitated by support from an Advanced SI Practitioner eMentor and peer group - and all fully assessed to UK university standards.
By combining this online learning with the important ‘real world’ application to clinical practice hours, supported by expert guidance from a Clinical Mentor, this two-pronged approach would offer students an incredibly rich and versatile training pathway. It's ideally matched to the ever-changing healthcare landscape. Today, our initial vision has become a reality that is proving highly successful.
So, if you are an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or speech & language therapist, based anywhere in the world, you no longer need to take time out of your week to travel to a venue, sort out parking, accommodation, childcare, work cover etc. Instead you can access, 24/7, the very latest thinking and training in sensory integration theory and practice from your desk, sofa or kitchen table - with much of the content even easily accessible from your smartphone.
You can network with a wide group of peers in your cohort to share experiences and ideas in a dedicated online forum. You can ask for support and guidance from your personal eMentor (an experienced Advanced SI Practitioner) and be confident of a rapid response. You can submit your assessments online. And when it comes to organising how to implement your clinical hours of practice, we’ll give you suggestions of how to make it work in your particular setting and put you in touch with a team of Clinical Mentors to choose from if you don’t already have a suitable one of your own at work. If your clinical hours requirement falls within the period of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, we have agreed a contingency assessment plan with our accrediting university to ensure you will still meet the learning outcomes of the module and qualify as a SI Practitioner.
We launched our first online training module in SI in May 2017, basing it on our world-class practitioner training that had been running since 2000. Today, you can take our postgraduate online practitioner training pathway all the way to PG Certificate, PG Diploma or Masters’ level, depending on your aspirations.
As a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to SI education and research, we have invested thousands of pounds and hours in creating, and continually updating, our online training in SI. The curriculum was designed by highly experienced educators and advanced SI practitioner clinicians, working together with international SI experts to provide student learning that is both clinically-focused and academically rigorous.
It’s flexible, rewarding and innovative and has been carefully designed to build your knowledge and skills from SI Practitioner to Advanced Practitioner, and on to an MSc in Sensory Integration should you wish to progress this far.
Each module you successfully complete gives you easily-transferable, academic credits. You can defer modules to suit what’s happening in your life. All modules are UK university-accredited and accredited by The CPD Standards Office. We even offer interest-free monthly payment plans and accept the following currencies: GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD and USD.
Research (Dixson, 2015) shows that the most effective online learning courses include considerable learner-to-learner and tutor-to-learner communication: your online learning experience with us involves challenges to complete within your cohort’s online forum as well as regular contact with your eMentor. We’ve also found that genuine and ongoing critical friendships are forged in the forums.
This is what one, initially sceptical, student fed back to us: “I was really concerned about doing online learning having done [previous modules] in the classroom. I have really enjoyed the learning method and it is working so well I would recommend it. I also love that you can access the taught information for a year so have the flexibility to back over things whilst cementing new learning into practice.”
Find out more about your opportunities to begin your SI practitioner training journey with us here.
Do you work with older adults? We have converted our workshop day on Applying SI Therapy Principles With Older Adults into a live online training day. You can access and interact with this live-streamed training event via the internet. Our experienced lecturer, a practising therapist, will present an overview on the ways in which therapists and carers can combine Sensory Integration therapy into personalised and everyday life activities for those living with organic brain disorders, such as dementia.
You will be able to join in the discussion and ask questions directly to our lecturer by typing in the chat section of the screen and join in the interactive tasks. We promise it’s easy: you do not need to download any special software and you don’t need a camera or mic. You just need an internet connection on a tablet or computer and sound (speakers or headphones) to listen to our lecturer. You access it via your normal internet browser.
At a time when care homes and facilities for older people are limiting visitors, we’d like as many people as possible to understand more about sensory challenges for older people and strategies for adjusting the environment, working with their sensory needs and use of age-appropriate equipment and ‘toys’. For that reason, we’ve cut the cost of our standard fee from £95 to just £45. For a live, interactive 5.5 hours of continuing professional development this is exceptional value - and available without the need to travel.
Here are more details about this live event:
9.00 am (GMT) start. The course will finish at 2:30 pm. There will be 3 sessions of 1.5 hours with a 30 minute break between each session.
Open to all, this training event will be of particular interest to occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists new to sensory integration, as well as nurses, social workers and other health and social care workers delivering therapy or care to older adults - particularly those with dementia and other organic conditions.
Details on how to book here.
Here is what some previous attendees of the classroom version of this course have said:
“A very clear overview of sensory processing in older adults and what your role can be without being SI trained.” Clare Harrison, Therapist.
“This course will definitely help you to better understand some of the challenges we face as OTs when working with people with dementia. Once you understand more, it is easier to put appropriate strategies and interventions in place and develop a better sense of what is appropriate and why.” Workshop attendee, Therapist.
“It has improved my knowledge and confidence in treating patients. My patients will benefit hugely from the knowledge I have gained (in fact, they already have this morning!).” Alice Smith-Connor, Therapist.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It has given me skills and ‘fresh eyes’ to interpret observed behaviours.” Participant, Therapist.
“The training was really helpful in terms of increasing my understanding of our client group but also my own professional development. It has enabled me to think about my clients from an SI perspective and consider that certain patients’ presentations and behaviours could be explained by sensory problems.” Participant, Therapist.
“Definitely do it if you work with adults with special needs and dementia.” Alison Power, Equipment Designer.
“An increased awareness of the impact of too much or too little re: sensory thresholds. And the use of proprioception re: SI approaches. Prior to the course I would have focussed more more on the visual and auditory!” Participant, Therapist.
Hand washing is crucial in reducing the risk of contracting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) but many people with sensory difficulties can experience distress or struggle with the experience of hand washing. We’ve collated some advice for encouraging and improving hand washing.
People with difficulties with sensory integration or sensory processing can experience aversion to the smells, images, sounds and the tactile sensations of hand washing; have problems with balance, tone or co-ordinating their hand movements; or not understand the step-by-step process of hand washing. The following suggestions should be tailored to specific sensory challenges or different abilities and age groups, as appropriate.
Use an illustrated guide to the process of hand washing to explain each individual step and help the individual understand what to expect. The World Health Organisation has published this step-by step guide to cleaning hands to protect against infection but there are also simpler guides, or social stories, that may be more useful with younger children. There are many to choose from online (seach “washing hands social story”) or you can make your own. Some individuals may have difficulty transferring skills learned from home to other environments: in this case it may be helpful to have a specific social story for both scenarios.
The NHS has provided this hand washing sequence using photos and a video which suggests washing hands for as long as it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Or you could count, use a timer or another song.
This Washy Washy Clean video demonstrates the correct technique accompanied by a song suitable for young children.
You may need to prompt hand washing at all appropriate times, either verbally and/or by gesture (miming turning on a tap and rubbing hands together). It may help to have a handwashing poster or symbol on display by the sink. If required, you may need to physically help the individual to wash their hands. Remember to promptly give praise and acknowledgement each time.
Find out if the individual has a preference for liquid soap or bars of solid soap. Find out if a particular smell is preferred or if they prefer unscented soap. Some people find it easier to manage soap when it is inside a fabric pouch so they only touch the soap suds and not the soap itself. An automatic soap dispenser which doesn’t require you to pump the soap may be helpful. If you find a soap that is better tolerated, include it in your sensory kit when away from home.
Assessing a safe water temperature may be difficult for some individuals and they will need assistance. Some people may find slightly warm water more tolerable than cold water.
Use a step to enable children to reach sinks easily. Consider using a chair or safe stool if they find it easier to sit down whilst washing their hands. You can fit handle extensions to some taps to make it easier to grasp and turn them.
Some people can be very sensitive to the sound of electric hand dryers in echoing bathrooms. You could reassure the individual in advance that they don’t need to use the hand dryers, if this is the case, but emphasise the importance of still drying hands. Use paper towels instead (you may need to carry your own supply). When visiting public toilets to wash hands, you could try using ear plugs or ear defenders to limit the amount of distressing sounds.
When drying hands, some individuals prefer a slow, deep pressure with the towel rather than a light touch.
If soap and water are really not an option or available, then use antibacterial hand gel. You may need to demonstrate how to use this and assist. Again, you may need to investigate whether scented or unscented ones, gel or spray ones are preferred.
Some individuals are distracted by the tactile sensation after they have washed their hands: investigate if this is eased by using a preferred hand lotion immediately afterwards.
If your child has an SI therapist or SI trained occupational therapist, ask their advice on how to accommodate your child’s specific sensory needs when hand washing.
This issue, we are focusing on mental health and sensory integration, including research into the comorbidity of mental health problems and sensory integration difficulties; first person accounts of experiencing anxiety and SI difficulties; and advice for parents, caregivers and therapists.
As a secondary topic, we're also looking at how to enable children with sensory sensitivities to properly care for their teeth and to improve the experience of having a dental check-up for these children.
This month, there are a few dates that you might want to incorporate into your own client communications:
Read the free Emphasize newsletter here.
This research article explores the correlation between sensory processing and mental illness. The researchers charted the available literature on the subject and detected gaps in the current knowledge base. Results indicated that there is an evolving area of research using MRIs and electroencephalography that demonstrates a relationship between atypical neurosensory activity and mental illness. The research concludes that further research is needed to identify the efficacy of sensory processing approaches with adults with mental illness.
In this study, researchers found significant relationships between sensory processing differences, skill deficits, and psychiatric symptoms in adults with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder. They hypothesize that these differences and deficits contribute to decreased occupational functioning and performance observed with this population.
This research article investigated the link between childhood sensory processing Disorder symptoms with an elevated likelihood of an anxiety disorder diagnosis in adulthood. The results demonstrated that individuals whom self-reported childhood SPD symptoms were significantly linked with a higher probability of a lifetime anxiety disorder diagnosis. The results also indicated that these anxiety disorders in adults may occur as a result of difficulties with emotional regulation due to life-long sensory processing difficulties.
This new research study examined the correlational relationship between sensory reactivity differences and anxiety subtypes in 41 autistic children aged between 3 and 14 years, using parent‐ and self‐reported measures. The authors found positive correlations between sensory hyperreactivity and total anxiety, separation anxiety and physical injury fears. However, when controlling for autism traits, they found sensory hyperreactivity to be related to physical injury fears and specific phobia, and sensory hyporeactivity to be related to lower total and social anxiety. The results indicate that sensory hyperreactivity and hyporeactivity might be implicated in specific anxiety symptomology.
This new research study compared tooth brushing cooperation at home and in a dental office between sensory over‐responsivity (SOR) and sensory not over-responsivity (SNOR) children with ASD. A cross-sectional observational study was conducted with 51 children with ASD aged 4 to 17 years. It was found that SNOR subjects had significantly higher scores in tooth brushing cooperation at home and in the dental office than did SOR subjects. The researchers found that oral sensitivity was significantly associated with tooth brushing cooperation at home, whereas oral, light, sound, and touch (face) sensitivities were significantly correlated with tooth brushing cooperation in the dental office. In conclusion, SOR subjects showed less tooth brushing cooperation than SNOR subjects both at home and in the dental office.
This new study explored the association between children's screen‐time, fine motor, in‐hand manipulation, visual‐motor integration, sensory processing and parent‐reported play skills in children without disabilities aged 4–7 years. An increase in screen‐time was associated with decreased visual motor integration, in-hand manipulation, bilateral coordination, sensory processing, enjoyment of play and engagement in more complex play, such as creating stories. Playing with toys and using object substitution in play (e.g., a child uses an object for something else other than its intended use when playing with it) potentially appear to be a moderating factor of the impact of children's screen‐time on their bilateral coordination and visual‐motor integration skills. Clinicians can encourage children's active and dynamic involvement in games and play pursuits to counteract the potential impact of increased use of devices that involve screen‐time.
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