Sensory Integration Therapy

Understanding Sensory Experiences; Strengths, Challenges and Using Sensory Strategies to Manage Our Emotions (Regulation) – programme provided by The St Andrews Practice OT (Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner – Post-grad diploma)

The initial appointment aims to gain an overview of your responses to sensory input; identifying what your strengths and skills are and the impact from difficulties with sensitivity and motor movements (praxis). This provides an understanding of what aspects will be most helpful to focus on.

A more detailed assessment of sensory differences is an essential starting point. The rest of the topics outlined below are designed to provide you with some ideas of what people find helpful (based on experience). You may have other ideas of what you want help with, and this would be covered at the initial appointment, and used to inform the goals and plan for any future appointments.

Assessment:
• The Adult/Adolescent Sensory History (ASH) questionnaire is either sent by email to be completed or used during appointment(s) in an interview format, depending on personal preference. This is a validated tool and helps to identify the aspects of sensory that are either in the ‘typical’ range or mild/definite differences. The results generate a sensory report form, which you will be provided with, along with an explanation sheet which provides a brief overview of the sensory systems and some of the less familiar terminology used in the report.
• Structured clinical observations are optional but can be very helpful as observing level of ease/difficulty that positioning and movements are for you, provides a lot of information which is used to help you gain an understanding of why you experience certain difficulties and responses to movement. This element is not currently standardised but the EASI assessment tool is currently at the normative data collection stage and will be available for use with adults, once validated. Some of these observations can be carried out over zoom, if in person appointments are not possible due to geographical location. Observations include movements that look at elements such as balance, eye movements and co-ordination.

Topic 1- Understanding your responses to sensory experiences:
• Making sense of your sensory profile
• Understanding the sensory systems – how they work and why we experience emotional responses from sensory information
• The role of interoception (the 8th sensory system) in informing our physical (need for food, fluid etc) and emotional (anxiety, happiness etc) states
• Sensory strategies – exploring what you already use, personal preferences and other options

Topic 2 – Sensory and everyday life
• Completion of Occupational Self-Assessment (OSA) between appointments – identifies problems areas, what is most important to you and what you want to change in relation to everyday function
• Development of goals and plan of action based on the OSA
• Understanding the impact of underlying sensory differences on everyday life – what we need to do and what we want to do

Topic 3 – Developing tools and reducing overload (emotional responses)
• Building sensory kits; portable and at home
• Developing awareness of personal signs of under/over alertness and matching up the strategies
• Translating understanding into visual tools e.g. sensory ladder
• Understanding and applying ideas such as energy banking, balancing demands to support everyday life

Topic 4 – Interoception
• Gaining a better understanding of how interoception works
• Identifying specific difficulties and ways to build interoceptive awareness
• Managing emotions through interoceptive awareness and sensory strategies