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Sensory Integration Therapy

Making Sense of Sensory – Understanding Sensory Experiences; Strengths, Challenges and Using Sensory Strategies to Manage Our Emotions (Regulation)

Delivered by Specialist Occupational Therapist – Qualified in Ayres Sensory Integration Therapy (Post-Graduate Diploma)

All humans experience the sensory world in their own unique way.  Sensory sensitivities (e.g. noises feel louder, discomfort with touch), and/or difficulties with sensory-motor (e.g. co-ordination, spatial awareness etc), can significantly impact on our ability to accurately interpret and regulate our emotional responses and  to manage the things we need and want to do.  Sensory related difficulties are usually labelled Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Dyspraxia, recognised as part of the neurodiverse profile and/or because of childhood trauma. It is important to highlight that these sensory differences also provide strengths and skills, such as artist, musical abilities, and attention to detail.

If this is something which you struggle with, our Specialist Occupational Therapist (OT), Lisa Paxman can work collaboratively with you to better understand your unique sensory profile, how the sensory systems work and the use of sensory input to support you to manage the challenges of everyday life.

The initial appointment(s) with our Occupational Therapist (OT) aim(s) to:

  • Identify what your strengths and skills are and the impact of sensory differences on everyday life – an overview of sensory differences. This is based on a sensory assessment *
  • Support you to determine goals and develop a bespoke plan to attain these. Based on outcome from sensory and OT assessment

Programme content outline:

  • Based on common challenges experienced
  • Provides information on how OT can help you (understanding sensory, how to improve underlying sensory issues, adaptations, and strategies)
  • To be personalised from topic ideas and identified plan

Topic 1- Understanding your responses to sensory experiences:

  • Making sense of your sensory profile
  • Understanding the sensory systems – how they work and the links to emotional responses
  • Working on underlying sensory differences – using neuroplasticity (changes in neural networks in the brain through learning/developing an ability)
  • The role of Interoception (the 8th Sensory system) – use of information from our organs and other sensory systems to inform us about 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

  • Understanding the impact of underlying sensory differences on everyday life
  • Strategies and adjustments to manage what you need and want to do
  • Supporting related executive functioning challenges e.g. planning, organisation, memory

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 (interoception awareness)
  • Translating understanding into visual tools e.g. sensory ladder
  • Understanding and applying tools such as energy banking, balancing demands to support everyday life

*A detailed assessment of sensory differences is an essential starting point. 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 how you manage  positioning and movements, 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 part of the assessment uses relevant assessment tools from the EASI (Evaluation in Ayres© Sensory Integration). Some of these observations can be carried out over zoom, if in person appointments are not possible due to geographical location.