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SI Therapy


SI Network (UK & Ireland)


The No 1 Therapist  - Find a Therapist websiste has been developed by the Sensory Integration Network (UK & Ireland) Ltd


Parents, Teachers, Professionals and Service Users can use this site to search for occupational therapists, speech & language therapists and physiotherapists who provide a wide range of services. Many of them will also provide sensory integration therapy services.

Occupational Therapists, Speech & Language Therapists and Physiotherapists can use this site to advertise all their services.

What is Sensory Integration Therapy and who is it for?

Direct one to one Ayres’ Sensory Integration Therapy, and almost 100% of sensory strategies and environmental modifications therapists recommend to address sensory difficulties experienced by those referred for sensory integration therapy are derived from the body of knowledge and practice initially developed by Jean A. Ayres.

Since then this body of knowledge and related practice has expanded and evolved keeping pace with research and advances in neuroscience and specific condition including for those with a diagnosis of DCD/Dyspraxia, Autism, ADHD, mental health difficulties, global developmental delay and learning disabilities.

Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy intervention should happen only after a thorough assessment of someone's ability to make use of sensory input. This should mean the therapist collects information about the person in a few different ways. They may ask the person, their parents or carers to fill in forms how sensory input feels in everyday life, they should watch the person at work, while at school or playing; doing activities or everyday life. This is so the therapist can make sure they can make the best possible plan for therapy and also mean that they can make recommendation about sensory strategies that might make coping easier in daily life.

By speaking to everyone, the therapist can help to develop a clear plan or hypothesis based on the assessment results, setting goals, or having aims to work towards means therapy is clear and targets a person's own needs.

Ayres' Sensory Integration therapy with an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist or Speech and Language Therapist with postgraduate training*, in an environment providing a variety of sensory opportunities.

 Research shows us that Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy done properly can make positive changes to:

  • ability to plan and do activities of daily life
  • movement and motor skills - posture, mobility and gross and fine motor co-ordination
  • focus and attention
  • thinking and learning (cognitive) skills needed for school and work
  • relationship and communication (social) skills
  • behaviours that challenge others including aggression and violence, self-harm, ritualistic and self-stimulation behaviours

*minimum standards are recommended by the International Coalition for Education in Ayres' Sensory Integration.

Data Driven Decision Making Process

Will the occupational therapist, physiotherpist or speech and language therapist only do Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy?

Therapists may often combine aspects of different therapies when they are working with people, moving smoothly between different therapies including Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy. They should always be able to say why they are using different therapies for a particular person and this is usually part of their report recommendations, or is linked to the therapy goals and aims.

Traditional one to one Ayres' Sensory Integration therapy is done by an a Occupational therapist, Physiotherapist or Speech and language Therapist with advanced, usually postgraduate*, training in Ayres Sensory Integration. Using a carefully created space, the therapist works with the person to make sure they get the “just right” sensory input to help them be able to meet their own goals. This may be to develop and learn new ways of moving, responding and behaving so that everyday life becomes easier. Usually therapists will use special swings, barrels, trampolines, scooters, blow up mats, tunnels and different surfaces together with bats and balls and stretchy material to make this happen.

It is also important that the therapist makes sure the person gets just the right amount of sensory input in different ways. Using the ASI Fidelity Tool (Parham 2007) means most therapists can reflect on their practice. Doing this helps them meet the person's goals more easily; it is their way of making sure that what they are doing is Ayres' Sensory Integration.

If you have been referred to or are looking for assessment or therapy for sensory integration difficulties (in the past sometimes called sensory integration dysfunction or sensory processing disorder) please check to make sure you know what you will be receiving.

Questions to ask your therapist about Assessment:

Talk to the therapist about the assessment. Ask them what they will be doing, where it will happen, who they will collect information from, how long it will take, how much it might cost (if you are using a private practice) and what the assessment report or recommendations will look like. Ensure you agree about what you need, as a report for a family or to recommend therapy will cost less than a report for a tribunal or court.

Questions to ask your therapist about Intervention:

Ask the therapist doing intervention about what they will be doing, how many sessions it will take, how often they will happen and where, how much it might cost (if you are using a private practice) and about what will change, and how you will know this after or because of the therapy.

Is it Sensory Integration Therapy?

Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy involves individualised based treatment based on the Ayres' model of Sensory Integration, following thorough assessment. It is important to be aware that school and homes sensory strategies and parent/carer education and consultation are normally part of this very individualised approach.

Equipment and sensory strategies that provide support at home and school given out given as recommendations separate to therapy after completion of a checklist are more broad brushed approaches, are less individualised and are not the same as Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy. In the same way, 'off the shelf programmes' including the Alert Programme, Sensory Circuits and Sensory Yoga or other groups that draw on Ayres' Sensory Integration knowledge base are also not the same as one to one therapy.

Is the therapist a State Registered Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist or Speech and Language Therapist?

In the United Kingdom this will mean registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, registration can be checked online.

For other countries please see http://www.healthregulation.org/

Who should do Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy including Assessment and one to one Intervention?

Therapists doing Ayres' Sensory Integration Therapy in the UK and Ireland should have postgraduate education in Ayres Sensory Integration.

These Master's level courses in Ayres' Sensory Integration are offered in the UK and Ireland through the Sensory Integration Network in partnership with Ulster University.

As a founding member, these courses meet with recommendations currently subscribed to by all members of the International Coalition for Education in Ayres' Sensory Integration (ICEASI).

The SI Network's SI Modular Pathway is a 4 module programme:

Successful completion of the modules results in:


  • PGCert/Sensory Integration Network SI Practitioner Award: SI Modules 1, 2 and 3.
  • SIPT Certification : SI Module 3 - certified to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test.
  • Sensory Integration Network SI Advanced Practitioner Award: SI Modules 1, 2, 3 and 4

Therapists receives a PG Cert, SIPT Certification and Certificate of Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner Status from the Sensory Integration Network on successful completion of relevant modules. They should be able to provide these on request.

The SIGN (HTML link http://www.siglobalnetwork.org/) is a grouping of international organisations that value standards of education, research and knowledge dissemination about Ayres Sensory Integration based on evidence-based research. Ayres' Sensory Integration programmes are also available in a number of other countries. Informal links are made with other programmes through the SIGN (Sensory Integration Global Network) and ICEASI groups.

The Sensory Integration Network recommends that all independent practitioners are accredited to at least SI Module 2/3 level with a preference for Advanced Practitioners Status.

Is the therapist involved in a mentoring or supervision programme?

All Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapist and Speech and Language Therapists should be involved in a programme of clinical supervision or mentoring. This should be regular and ongoing.

Is the therapist maintaining up to date training and evidence of continuing professional development (CPD)?

This may be evidenced through attendance at annual conferences, workshops and courses through the use of reflective practice, attendance of SI peer and supervision groups and reading of up to date literature.

Sensory Integration on-going education may be evidenced by course attendance, keeping up to date through SensorNet Newsletter and website news and journals including relevant Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Neuroscience publications.

Questions you could ask to know if you are receiving the most appropriate approach for a yourself or someone else?

  • How will you assess what my (or someone's else's) needs are?
  • Are the goals and plans developed in conjunction with us and others eg school and when relevant with my child?
  • Will aims and goals be set before and will these be reviewed and changed during intervention a progress is made?
  • Will the long term goals relate to changes in the person's everyday life? ( Will it be easier to go out, make friends, get dressed, do school work, stay on task at work)?
  • How will any intervention plan be agreed, who else might be involved? When will this happen, after the report?
  • Will I receive a report outlining the results of the assessment, goals, intervention plans? How does this process happen?
  • Will the report and recommendations be suitable for my child’s nursery, school or college/university (if appropriate)?
  • Will the therapist communicate with others involved eg school, work, other professionals?
  • Does the therapist attend review and other meetings?
  • What recommendations can I expect following the assessment/in my report?
  • How do you and how will I you know if I (or my child/other person) will benefit from a sensory integration intervention?
  • Is direct one to one intervention the only option if I (or my child/other person) has sensory integration difficulties?
  • What about sensory strategies for home and school, will you recommend things we can do at home and school/work to help ?
  • How long might any therapy last? How will I know if and when we have reached their goals, so when therapy should stop or decrease?
  • Is there a regular review of therapy? How much will I (we) be involved in the intervention and review process?


Research:

One to One Ayres Sensory Integration:

Borderline personality disorder and sensory processing impairment
Brown, Shankar and Smith 2009

Randomised control trial of children with ASC receiving ASI including measurement of treatment fidelity and use of a manualised protocol. Treatment group did better than care as usual on Goal Attainment Scales and measures of caregiver assistance in self-care and socialization. Provides support for the use of this intervention for children with autism.

Schaaf 2014

“Some children will scream and hold their hands over their ears when the toilet flushes, or can’t tolerate certain textures of clothing, others don’t use sensation from their body to guide movements and thus have difficulty participating in active play and other movement activities. When we get improved processing of sensation, the children are often better able to participate in everyday tasks…one approach is shaping the behaviour. The other is addressing the sensory needs, and helping children manage them better, the rationale behind this approach is that by changing how sensations are processed and integrated by the brain we help children with autism make better sense of the information they receive and therefore use it to better to participate in everyday tasks.”

Schaaf 2013

Effectiveness of sensory integration program in motor skills in children with autism. The present study aimed to determine the effectiveness of sensory integration program in children with autism.The sensory integration therapy was effective in the treatment of autistic children as it helps those children to become more independent and participate in everyday activities.

Abdel Karim et al 2014

Parent Psycho-Education based on Ayres SI:

Early indicators that parent education results in significant impact on family lives and parental empowerment though increasing parent awareness, understanding and skill with reduced parent guilt and helplessness and "in every way with everyday tasks, life will be easier"

Smith 2007, Smith and Shankar 2008

Parents felt more competent and children had significantly increased participation in everyday life, suggesting that this approach is an effective occupational therapy intervention.

Dunn 2013

Consultation based on Ayres SI:

Is particularly effective in situations where creating a more supportive environment will make a big difference to the child’s functioning. When clients feel competent, are actively engaged, and understand the whole process, they are more likely to acquire the skills to analyze and solve future problems. Bretnall and

Bundy 2012

A summary of more recent research relating to sensory strategies:

Any equipment or activity that is part of a plan developed following thorough assessment and robust clinical reasoning based on the model of sensory integration, may be considered to be consistent with an ASI based approach.

Sensory Strategies : Adaptation of Task and Environment:

Noise reduction headphones are effective in enhancing attention to task during independent classroom work.

Rowe, Candler & Neville, 2011

Improved attention, response time and decrease in self stimulatory behaviour in a room with improve acoustics and reduced visual stimuli.

Mostafa, 2008

There is improved attention to task following installation of sound-absorbing walls and halogen lighting.

Kinnealey et al, 2012

Ball Chairs – Positive effect on in seat behaviour for the children with most extreme vestibular-proprioceptive seeking behaviour, those with poor postural stability less engaged on therapy ball.

Bagatelle, 2010

Chewing Gum – significant positive effect on concentration performance.

Tanzer, 2009

Weighted Blankets - No impact found on sleep

Green et al, 2014

Weighted vests (6 studies): to improve attention & self stim. Improvment to behaviours difficult to evaluate.

Ayres' Sensory Integration Informed Interventions

Sensory Processing Disorder in Mental Health.

Brown, Shankar and Smith et al 2006

Brown S, Shankar R, Smith K, et al. Sensory processing disorder in mental health. Occupational Therapy News 2006; May:28-29.

Sensory approaches in inpatient settings: Innovative alternatives to seclusion and restraint

Champagne, T. & Stromberg, N. 2004

Brown S, Shankar R, Smith K, et al. Sensory processing disorder in mental health. Occupational Therapy News 2006; May:28-29.

Three studies show that weighted blanket use in the adult mental health population showed a decrease in anxiety. For many adult participants, sleep had a positive impact when using a self-determined amount of weight.

Champagne 2007

The Alert Program trial in post-primary schools for students with social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties
Mac Cobb, Fitzgerald and Lanigan-O’Keefe et al 2014

Touch – massage or touch therapy (4 studies): some encouraging evidence that improvements in target behaviours were noted

Auditory interventions (4 studies): some strong primary quality indicators re social validity in 1 study.

Bettison 1996

Yoga for Teens - Yoga may help adolescents in acute psychiatric care to learn self soothe to regulate their emotions and for relief from emotional distress.

Re et al 2014