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  • 06 Apr 2021 20:51 | SIE News (Administrator)

    Supporting Individuals With Feeding Difficulties: Sensory Integration in Practice - A Multidisciplinary Perspective

    If you support individuals with feeding difficulties, we have a new online course which can offer you greater understanding of how sensory integration and processing impacts feeding, as well as practical strategies to try in the home, school or clinic setting.

    Feeding is one of the most complex things we require our bodies to do because it involves every sensory system integrating information about our body and the world around us. This course will provide you with a multidisciplinary perspective to understanding the complexity of feeding and will provide strategies that will inform therapeutic and educational planning to support children with feeding difficulties to improve their relationship with food.

    It's a fascinating overview of theory with masses of advice from our highly experienced and engaging presenters on how to put it into real life practice. It covers why you shouldn't recommend many traditional strategies; how to get parents and other professionals on board; and how to build a relationship of trust with the child or individual with feeding difficulties. The online course, accessible at your convenience, comprises over 10 hours of closed captioned videos, presentations, interactive quizzes, worksheets and clinical discussions between Laura and Louisa. We’ve also included all the references and downloadable resources referred to in the course in one handy summary.

    Topics covered include:

    • Experiences of Food
    • Typical Feeding Development
    • The Complexity of Feeding
    • What are Feeding Difficulties?
    • Feeding Difficulties Why
    • Risks of Commonly Used Strategies
    • Strategies to Develop Feeding Skills
    • What does it mean for Intervention

    Your presenters

    The course is delivered by Laura Osman, Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Advanced Sensory Integration Therapist, Feeding Therapist and Teacher and Louisa Hargett, a Highly Specialist Occupational Therapist, Advanced Sensory Integration Therapist, Feeding Therapist and Teacher. Laura and Louisa are experienced in conducting complex multidisciplinary team feeding assessments and intervention for individuals and for school wide feeding interventions.

    Who should take this course?

    Open to all, this comprehensive course is aimed at therapists, dietitians, psychologists and teachers working with children described as fussy or picky eaters and those with feeding difficulties or challenges. This course expects the audience to have a sound understanding of sensory integration theory. Therefore, if required, we would strongly recommend that participants complete the online Introduction to Sensory Integration Difficulties for Everyone (4 hour online course, priced at only £10) before starting this course.

    Course outcomes

    By the end of this course you will be able to:

    • Understand typical feeding development
    • Apply knowledge of sensory integration to describe the complexity of feeding
    • Understand how sensory, physical, cognition, communication and social and emotional development impact upon feeding
    • Use practical and positive strategies to improve a child’s feeding skills and their experience of feeding
    • To apply new learning to therapeutic and educational interventions that improve a child’s experience of feeding
    • To apply new learning to therapeutic and educational interventions that improve a child’s experience of feeding

    NB: This course does not cover dysphagia but highlights where referral to a dysphagia trained speech and language therapist is recommended before interventions are made.

    Book your place on Supporting Individuals With Feeding Difficulties: Sensory Integration in Practice - A Multidisciplinary Perspective.

    Davis AM, Bruce AS, Khasawneh R, Schulz T, Fox C, Dunn W (2013). Sensory processing issues in young children presenting to an outpatient feeding clinic. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Feb;56(2):156-60

  • 06 Apr 2021 10:55 | SIE News (Administrator)

    We’re delighted to bring you this guest blog from The Sensory Trust, a national charity and leading authority on inclusive and sensory design.

    Sensory trails are a great way of creating a series of sensory experiences in the natural environment. They are a relatively low cost and simple intervention where the effort put in is directly reflected back in the reward. Some of the best trails change through the seasons and take the user on a journey of the senses.

    What is a sensory trail?

    A sensory trail has a series of experiences along a route that are designed to engage the different senses and collectively to immerse people in a multi-sensory journey. They are used in all sorts of outdoor settings - city parks, farms, woodlands, schools, hospitals and care homes - and can be great indoors too, in schools, care settings and museums for example.

    A sensory trail has a focus on journey and movement. It can therefore have a direct application to teaching orientation skills, for example through people learning to recognise different sounds, textures and smells along the trail and gaining confidence in their own abilities to interpret the environment and find their own way.

    Who is a sensory trail for?

    Sensory trails are often planned specifically for people with disabilities, especially people with sensory impairments, but in reality, encouraging people to use more of their senses is of benefit to all ages and abilities.

    What can a sensory trail do?

    Sensory trails can

    • give people the opportunity and the excuse to listen, touch, smell and look, more closely
    • bring a place to life for all visitors including people with sensory impairments
    • encourage physical activity
    • tell a story, weave a tale and bring a myth to life
    • be the basis for an education experience, facilitating learning outside the classroom
    • build memories and make connections
    • open up eyes, ears and nostrils and get hands out of pockets

    How can our sensory trail markers help?

    We know that sensory gardens and sensory trails can be very costly involving significant investment in new infrastructure and design. Even small-scale projects can end up costing a few thousand pounds. Having seen the frustrations of people wanting to put their ideas into action, but with limited budgets and time, we were keen to give people an alternative. We saw the need for something that would be quick and easy to install, low-cost and flexible so it could be used again and again in different settings or with different groups and time of year. This led to us creating Sensory Trail Markers.

    Sensory Trail Markers are a simple, low cost solution to creating sensory trails in any outdoor setting. The markers are Waymarker style all-weather discs with drill holes than can be screwed, hung or tied to most natural objects. Featuring nine different images they are designed to highlight sensory stimuli and lead people on a fun journey of discovery. The kit contains markers and an instruction booklet - all you need to create your own sensory trail. The markers are reusable so you can change and adapt to the seasons.

    Trail markers in practice

    The sensory story trail at The Lost Gardens of Heligan used simple text accompanied by sensory trail markers and sensory experiences to tell the story of a black honey bee blown off course. The story tells of how the bee discovers the wonders of the woodland and the homes of other creatures that live in the woods as she tries to make her way back home to the hive. The trail was used to encourage visitors to engage with the woodland environment through their senses as they followed the story of the bee. The markers denoted sensory highlights at each stage of the story giving permission to sniff or touch or taste each experience and the arrows kept people on track without having to use paper maps.

    Trail marker kits are available to buy from the Sensory Trust shop.

    The Sensory Trust is a UK registered charity and a company limited by guarantee, based in Cornwall, south west England. All proceeds from your purchases in our shop will be used to support our work, helping us connect people of all ages and abilities with natural places and spaces. Find out more about our work and see our free resources here: www.sensorytrust.org.uk

  • 23 Mar 2021 11:31 | SIE News (Administrator)

    This article was originally published in SensorNet Issue 56, August 2020:

    Ciara McGill (Nee Feehan), is an Advanced Practitioner Occupational Therapist in the community adult learning disability team within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.

    Ciara has always had a passion for working with children with a diagnosis of autism and those with behaviours that challenge. She completed voluntary work in this area and the area of sensory integration alongside her rotational post until a post became available within her preferred field of Autism. In 2010, an opportunity arose within the Health Service Executive (HSE) and so she moved to work within the Louth Autism/ Early Intervention Team. This is where Ciara began to further develop her skills and expertise in the area of Sensory Integration (SI). This led to her completing a range of specialist courses and embarking on the SI Masters pathway.

    In 2014, following the completion of SI module 4 she was funded to complete a poster presentation which was displayed at the SI conference in Finland. In 2015, she moved jobs to adult learning disability services, where she is employed at present. Within her new role, Ciara completed a master’s module through the University of Ulster in seating and complex needs alongside her sensory integration modules. In 2016, she received the Postgraduate Diploma SI award for ‘Outstanding Student and Academic Excellence.

    Having worked for several years in paediatric services the move to adult learning disability services presented a range of new challenges. For example, Ciara previously had the luxury of treating individuals with sensory difficulties in a fully equipped SI gym whilst the new service had limited treatment space and equipment. In addition, many of the adult clients displayed substantial sensory modulation difficulties and presented with significant challenging behaviour. Therefore, the ability to bring them to a treatment facility was often compromised.

    For adults with a learning disability, Ciara reported that the individuals’ environment and compatibility with other people appeared to have a significant impact on their sensory presentation. Alongside these factors, there was the added complexity of some individuals requiring restrictive interventions (physical, mechanical, chemical restraint and/or seclusion) as a last resort.

    Following sensory integration observations of adults with a learning disability and severe challenging behaviour on her caseload, she had hypothesised that some individuals were showing a preference for restraint and many were presenting with sensory difficulties especially in relation to sensory over responsiveness in the tactile system. In her opinion she felt that some individuals were eliciting restraint from their carers to relieve sensory abnormalities and/ or anxiety.

    Ciara sought guidance from colleagues, policies and procedures and she completed an online mentorship with Susanne Smith-Roley. She also completed an in-depth literature search. Through completing an in-depth literature search, Ciara found a significantly limited amount of research on the use of sensory integration to manage challenging behaviour for adults with a learning disability in the community. She explained that this is because existing research is within an institutional setting and does not reflect the move to community care. Furthermore, most of the research focuses on children but sensory integration difficulties are life-long and do not just affect children with a learning disability. Therefore, she felt there was an obvious need to research this area as she hoped it would better inform her Occupational Therapy practice.

    Ciara completed her Masters in Sensory Integration Therapy through the University of Ulster and graduated in December 2019 with a First-Class Honours (1:1). As part of her research project she worked in collaboration with Dr. Cathal Breen a University of Ulster lecturer. Their research is entitled, ‘Can sensory integration have a role in multi-element behavioural intervention? An evaluation of factors associated with the management of challenging behaviour in community adult learning disability services.’

    Ciara advised that best practice in challenging behaviour recommends a multi-element approach and use of Positive behaviour support as a preventative strategy as opposed to restrictive intervention (NICE 2015). Positive behaviour support involves functional analysis, but it does not specifically focus on sensory integration difficulties as a contributing factor to challenging behaviour (McGill & Breen 2020). Therefore, due to the significantly limited amount of research on the use of sensory strategies to manage challenging behaviour for adults with a learning disability in the community, literature based on behavioural intervention was also included in their review study.

    Ciara outlined the format as follows. Firstly, a systematic search of the literature was completed and seven relevant studies were identified. Then these studies were critically appraised and analysed. Out of the seven intervention studies included in their review, two studies used sensory integration therapy, three employed multi-element behavioural intervention, one utilised environmental stimulation within a multifactor behavioural intervention approach and one used sensory strategies within a structured behavioural intervention programme.

    Their review concluded that the use of restrictive intervention is still an issue in practice and most of the studies appraised stressed the problem of placing individuals with severe challenging behaviour in the community. Ciara was delighted with these findings as they really reflected the clinical issues she was facing. However, the most exciting part for her was that their research concluded that behavioural studies have successfully utilised sensory integration strategies to manage challenging behaviour in a community setting for adults with a learning disability. This is something that she has always believed but it was fantastic to be able to confirm it and share it.

    Ciara has had her research published within the British Journal of Learning Disabilities. This is the official Journal of the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD). She is delighted to have her research published in an international, multi-disciplinary team journal which will reach a worldwide audience.

    Full paper available here: Can sensory integration have a role in multi‐element behavioural intervention? An evaluation of factors associated with the management of challenging behaviour in community adult learning disability services


    Did you enjoy this article? Professional and Therapist level members of SIE have full access to the back catalogue of SensorNet, the SI community’s magazine since 1996. Affiliate (free) members can access the latest issue of SensorNet only, one month post publication.

  • 08 Mar 2021 10:54 | SIE News (Administrator)
    This article was originally published in SensorNet Issue 55, January 2019:

    By Valeria Isaac, MSc, OTR

    Valeria is an occupational therapist with 20 years’ of experience in the area of paediatrics. She originally graduated as an occupational therapist from the University of Chile, and completed the OT610 program from USC in California. She is currently the owner of Neurosens, an organisation dedicated to education and research in SI, in Chile. Valeria presented at this year’s ISIC in Hong Kong on her research into auditory modulation and efferent pathways. She provides us with a background to her research and updates on her progress to date.

    The auditory system is a complex sensory system that has been studied mainly for its participation in speech and language development. As James E. Peck (1994) would say “Hearing is one of our most precious gifts. With it we acquire the marvelous power of speech.” This is true, but not just speech. Other areas of cognitive performance are also involved with functions within the auditory system, specifically influencing attention and organisation of behaviour.

    Let's imagine a situation, where you are in a restaurant with friends sitting at a table. The place is completely full, everybody talking and laughing loudly, there is background music, the moving of chairs and sounds from plates, forks etc. However, despite the loud surrounding noise and auditory overload, you manage to orient your hearing and engage in a perfectly functional conversation with your friends, and enjoy your evening together.

    How do you manage to listen to a conversation immersed in such a sound competing environment? How does your brain manage to organise and make sense out of all the auditory input its receiving, and orient attention to what is aurally relevant?

    For many years, audition has been studied considering only its “afferent” pathways, viewed mainly as a sensory system specialised in detecting sound waves and transducing them to electrical signals that travel towards the central nervous system to be processed and interpreted. But the auditory system is not only afferent, there are also efferent projections originating from the auditory cortex descending towards the brainstem and even the cochlea. Inside the cochlea, the organ of Corti houses the auditory receptors called the “inner hair cells.” But beside these receptor cells, are the outer hair cells, which receive efferent projections from the brainstem through what is known as the olivocochlear nerve. These outer hair cells are motile cells, which have the ability to contract and elongate, boosting cochlear vibrations, and therefore performing as a cochlear amplifier. In other words, through the efferent auditory pathway, the auditory cortex can influence and modify incoming auditory input by modulating cochlear sensitivity.

    Some of the studies to evidence these functions in auditory efferent pathways were conducted by May and McQuone (1995) using cats. They trained cats in an auditory discrimination task to be performed in quiet and in the presence of noise. Once a bilateral lesion of the olivocochlear fibers was conducted, the cats showed a significant deficit in performing the task only when tested in noise, but not in quiet. Similar studies with cats (Heinz et al. 1998) and also with monkeys (Dewson, 1968) showed the same results, bilateral lesions of the olivocochlear system would significantly impair their performance in auditory discrimination tasks in the presence of noisy backgrounds.

    More recent studies have shown that lesions in efferent auditory fibers not only impair auditory discrimination in noise, but can also affect performance in other sensory discrimination tasks. Studies by Dr. Delano (Delano et al. 2007) using chinchillas show that during selective attention to a visual discrimination task, cochlear sensitivity is reduced, probably due to activation of olivocochlear fibers. In summary, the proposed functions of the efferent auditory pathways are mainly antimasking sounds in noisy environments (auditory discrimination) allowing our auditory brain to voluntarily amplify and sharpen those sounds particularly interested in perceiving, and modulation of cochlear sensitivity during cross-modal attention.

    I attended this year´s ISIC in Hong Kong to present about this topic and show a little bit about the research I have been doing for the past year in the University of Chile. I am currently conducting a research project which aims to evaluate an olivocochlear reflex in children diagnosed with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), because of their characteristic difficulty with selective attention especially in busy environments, such as the classroom. Children tend to receive the diagnosis of ADHD due to a variety of underlying reasons, and our proposal is that a possible dysfunction of the efferent auditory circuits at the level of the brainstem may be one of these physiological underlying factors for a subgroup of ADHD children.

    Along with Alexis Leiva (my laboratory partner) we have just concluded evaluating the olivocochlear reflex, using evoked otoacoustic emissions, in a total of 62 children with ADHD, ages 5 to 12. All the children were previously assessed for normal hearing and speech development. We are now in the process of analysing the collected data, studying the presence and amplitudes of the cochlear efferent responses within a broad range of sound frequencies in each child. We have observed that the ADHD children that were found to have altered auditory efferent responses tend to have associated reports, by teacher and/or parent, of sensitivity and over-reactive behaviours to loud sounds and noisy environments. This data is still under statistical analysis, but we hope to have this work finally published in the near future.

    So there is definitely more to auditory processing than just speech and language. A child can have normal hearing and speech development, and still might present with difficulties in auditory functions, which could impact cognitive performance, like attention and the ability to adapt and function within noisy environments.

    This highlights the importance of further research in the auditory system, and its consideration as a possible underlying physiological factor for certain behaviours. This continues to broaden our perspectives when evaluating a child’s behaviour and performance, hoping that as we gain more knowledge in neurophysiology it will lead us towards better evaluation procedures and, therefore, more successful treatment opportunities for each child’s specific diagnostic needs.

    I enjoyed participating in this year´s ISIC. It’s always a pleasure to interact with therapists from different parts of the world, and discover the wonderful work being done, it's very inspiring. I especially enjoyed the presentation by Annamarie Van Jaarsveld from South Africa, where she showed one of her projects about making playground equipment using recycled materials, and also the presentation about premature care from an SI perspective in the NICU by Mahek Uttamchandani. It’s touching to see how much love and dedication is put into all these projects and daily work with the children and families all around the world.

    Did you enjoy this article? Professional and Therapist level members of SIE have full access to the back catalogue of SensorNet, the SI community’s magazine since 1996. Affiliate (free) members can access the latest issue of SensorNet only, one month post publication.
  • 03 Mar 2021 19:42 | SIE News (Administrator)

    Have you ever dreamed of designing your own Ayres’ Sensory Integration (ASI) space? Ever wondered how you could make a rented room work for your SI therapy? What equipment would you need if you decided to offer mobile SI-informed therapy in schools, homes and workplaces? This new course from Sensory Integration Education has all the answers for you.

    Designing Your Own ASI Space is a short, online course, packed with helpful and practice advice from Moyna Talcer - a Consultant Occupational Therapist with 20 years’ clinical experience, both in NHS and private practice, and an Advanced Practitioner in Ayres' Sensory Integration.

    Setting up your own ASI clinic is many SI Practitioner’s dream but do you have all the knowledge to make that dream a successful reality? Before even looking at equipment and colour schemes, have you considered planning permission, insurances, the right location, working loads on ceilings, the best lighting rings and storage options, how to choose the right structural engineer and builders? What would the impact be on your home life if you chose to set up an ASI space in a room on your property? What risk assessments do you need to make and maintain?

    Would you be better to hire a space within a building, and what should you look for when choosing to rent a room? What do you need to ask the landlord and what services would you be best negotiating from them at the start of the contract? What kind of suspension equipment is possible in a space that you don’t own?

    If you would like to work as a mobile SI Practitioner, Moyna draws on her own experience to recommend her ‘go-to’ equipment, how to get the most out of each piece of equipment and what alternatives are there if it’s not possible to have suspended equipment.

    During her career Moyna has worked in schools, and people’s places of work and homes; in various rented spaces; until, eventually, she spent two years designing and building her own bespoke ASI clinic. Hear what she thinks were the best things to spend time and money on and how she would do it differently if she were to create her own clinic again.

    The online course, accessible 24/7, comprises 5 hours of content using slides with voice-over, captioned videos, worksheets, downloadable handouts and recommendations for further reading. All advice is linked back to the evidence base for ASI and maintaining fidelity for ASI interventions.

    The course also includes a bonus video of an interview with Mike Brooke, National Sales Manager of Southpaw UK, who discusses the precise requirements of the different kinds of suspension equipment that are suitable for owned or hired spaces and for mobile therapists. Mike discusses the pros and cons of various key items of SI equipment, right down to what kind of equipment will fit in what size of car boot for therapists who need to transport their equipment from venue to venue.

    If you want to be guided through the decision making process about designing an ASI space or a mobile ASI therapy service, then this is the course for you. Priced at only £45. Find out more and how to book here.

  • 23 Feb 2021 16:42 | SIE News (Administrator)

    The pandemic has challenged the NHS to work in new ways to make sure people get the support they need. Now the NHS wants to hear the public’s views and experiences of accessing and using NHS-commissioned health and social care services to help shape how Allied Health Professionals deliver care in the next few years.

    The invitation to join the online conversation is open to everyone over the age of 16 in England and is called AHPs Listen. The Allied Health Professions (AHPs) comprise of 14 distinct occupations including the occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, and physiotherapists who are eligible to train as Sensory Integration Practitioners, as well as art therapists, dietitians, drama therapists, music therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, osteopaths, paramedics, podiatrists, prosthetists and orthotists, and diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers.

    The NHS wants to hear what’s important to you about how you receive help with your health, how Allied Health Professions working in health and social care can offer the best possible experience, how they can help you stay well and how technology might help in the future.

    If you would like to see greater NHS provision specific to sensory difficulties, then this is your chance to make your voice heard.

    You can join, completely anonymously, at the AHP Listen website here: https://ahpslisten.org/welcome

    You can join the online workshop from any computer, tablet or smartphone. Everyone is welcome to join the conversation. You can visit as many times as you like, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at a time that suits you. Everyone can read, rate and comment upon the ideas of others. The project opened on 22 February 2021 and will run for 4 weeks.

    Professionals Will Get Their Chance to Comment Too

    A second online conversation will take place in May 2021 for the Allied Health Professionals to respond to the themes that were identified by the public. Later in the year, a third conversation will open where both citizens and Allied Health Professions can come together to let the project organisers (Clever Together) know they have interpreted everything correctly.

    This combined input will create the basis of the new strategy for Allied Health Professionals, co-created with citizens and professionals. Once finalised, this will replace the AHPs into Action strategy which was produced in a similar way 5 years ago and has run its course. The new strategy will be published in Spring 2022.

  • 11 Feb 2021 20:48 | SIE News (Administrator)

    Have you considered ballet to help develop fine and gross motor skills, proprioception, and confidence in your child with sensory integration and processing difficulties? Ballet teacher and primary school teacher Emma Morgan exclusively told Sensory Integration Education how ballet can be a wonderfully expressive activity for children with sensory challenges. Emma’s company, tiny toes ballet, is also offering a FREE 8-week Lockdown programme via YouTube - see below for details.

    During this pandemic we have seen so many restrictions and limited opportunities for exercise and extracurricular activities. As a result, we have seen families embracing online classes in order to keep their children engaged, stimulated and fit. Have you thought about ballet? Dance is a wonderful form of self-expression, exercise, and creativity. Many children love to move to music, it makes them happy.

    I am in the privileged position of being a professional trained ballet dancer and RAD registered ballet teacher but also a primary school teacher with experience of teaching children with special needs. The tiny toes teacher training programme fully equips our teachers to ensure children of all needs are catered for in our tiny toes classes. We deliver our programme to children with a variety of additional needs, including autism, cerebral palsy and down syndrome as well as delayed speech and understanding, very successfully and inclusively, on a weekly basis.

    Dance helps children develop a sense of body awareness, it helps with confidence and social skills. Dance allows for creative expression, for individuality and provides exercise and healthy living. It can help those who struggle with language by presenting an opportunity to communicate without words. Dance allows room for creative thinking and the acceptance of varied concepts, it stimulates intellect. It can foster a sense of peace. Dance allows you to express the inner you in a fun, energetic and engaging way that is non-judgmental.

    It is well researched that ‘activating the body more readily focusses and stimulates the mind’. When children are engaged with the world around them, they are more prepared to interact with it, learn from it, contribute to it. Dance is a vehicle that stimulates this engagement.

    For children with special needs, such as sensory processing difficulties, autism and other socio-emotional or physical difficulties, enjoyable activities might tricky to find. Children with these needs might have symptoms including poor attention, difficulty interacting with their peers, limited body awareness, or trouble being in social situations that might be over stimulating. Participating and expressing themselves through dance can help children with special needs to overcome these difficulties.

    Some children with sensory processing difficulties or other similar difficulties may not understand where their bodies are in space or how to work their fine motor control muscles. They have motor delay. Through dance, children become aware of the space around them and are given the opportunity to practise using their fine and gross motor control skills.

    Dance is not just a physical activity, it is also a form of creative expression. Some children with special needs have great difficulty expressing themselves or understanding emotions. Dance gives children a chance to break out of their shells and express their emotions in a non-threatening and non-judgmental environment. Often during dance class children are required to dance or work in groups or pairs, they often give small demonstrations or performances in front of parents and their community, even in the dance class they are performing in front of each other. These activities also help children with special needs to gain confidence.


    Emma is a Para Dance Trained Teacher. Para Dance UK is a charity that aims to develop and promote dance as a sport and an inclusive leisure activity across the country.

    Try These Dance Exercises

    Join in with these three lovely dance exercises at home! Remember you can adapt as you wish; for example, if the teacher is using her feet and you are sitting down, then make the same movement with your elbows or wrists. Dance is a form of self-expression there is no right or wrong just be YOU!

    Warm Up Song

    Ballet Exercise for Feet

    Stretch Song

    FREE 8-week Lockdown Programme for Everyone

    As a company, tiny toes ballet is currently offering a FREE 8-week Lockdown programme for everyone. We have classes based on different topics such as animals, superheroes, under the sea, etc., and the programme covers so many engaging activities including drama, dance, singing and cooking. See the full programme here.

    For me, the best thing about being involved in inclusive dance is seeing the children happy and knowing that we are making them feel normal. A lot of children, especially older children, understand that they are different, but we are giving them the opportunity to undertake dance, an activity that has in the past has been impossible for them. This is a big relief for parents and carers too, who are looking for exciting activities that both inspire their children and will help to keep them fit. Many have said our program is a breath of fresh air.

    I passionately believe that ballet and dance is for everyone: everyone has a right to dance! It has so many benefits but not only that dance is proven to make you happy which we all need right now. Give it a go at home with tiny toes ballet and, when lockdown is lifted, please do get in touch - we are launching a specially-written ‘inclusive programme’ across the UK and we’d love to welcome as many people as possible to our physical ‘inclusive programme’ as soon as it is safe to do so. We are on a mission to share our love of dance, and the happiness dance creates, with everyone!

    Emma Morgan

    BA (Hons) PGCE ARAD Paradance trained teacher

    To find out even more benefits of dance, visit our website: www.tinytoesballet.co.uk


  • 10 Feb 2021 14:49 | SIE News (Administrator)

    Sensory Integration Education (SIE) has reviewed the Royal College of Occupational Therapists' (RCOT) new publication, Informed View: Sensory Integration and sensory-based interventions (2021), with interest.

    It clearly states the importance of working within an evidence-based framework and aims to provide information regarding the ongoing development of the evidence base around sensory processing and integration difficulties. Many of our other allied health profession interventions are also pursuing the goals of strengthening the evidence base and seeking to understand the core active components within them.

    This publication clearly states it is not intended to be a systematic evaluation of the sensory processing and integration literature and as such, limited literature is included and does not represent articles published since 2018. This affects its value as an information document for RCOT members. It will also be referred to by commissioners and others and is likely to negatively impact service users’ access to intervention. SIE would welcome the opportunity to work with RCOT to critically appraise and synthesize the literature more comprehensively to produce evidence-informed practice guidance for the benefit of those living with sensory processing and integration challenges.

    RCOT’s focus on developing the evidence base articulates well with SIE’s commitment to the same. Our not-for-profit organisation is proactively committed to supporting and developing clinically focused and research informed / active alumni. These alumni work within the multidisciplinary context, across the lifespan, and crucially within an evidenced-based frame of reference. Our strategy of supporting research in the field is made practical in many ways, one of which is the opportunity to apply for our Research Grant Awards.

    The RCOT view that Occupational Therapists should maintain an occupational focus is explicitly the same values and focus on our courses, with person-centred focus teaching throughout our curriculum and emphasis on improving participation in all areas of the individual’s life.

    We agree with their recommendation that therapists should understand the difference between Ayres’ Sensory Integration and sensory-based interventions, be clear about their rationale and evidence base for using these interventions, establish person centred goals, review their intervention, use outcome measures and audit the effectiveness of their intervention. These are key elements of our curriculum.

    SIE ensures that students are able to evaluate and articulate the evidence and we are delighted that our postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and MSc curriculum includes teaching and supervisory input from international experts within and outwith the field of sensory processing and integration.

    SIE’s postgraduate pathway for Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Speech and Language Therapists, delivered with our partner university Sheffield Hallam University is being carefully mapped to the current UK Allied Health Profession professional bodies and government policies and frameworks around advanced practice. As such, it seeks to continuously develop the students’ skills, aligned to the four pillars of the Advanced Clinical Practice Framework within the overarching framework of becoming an Advanced Practitioner in Sensory Integration.

    Therapists working towards their Postgraduate Certificate in Sensory Integration to become an SI Practitioner focus on developing and evidencing both their clinical and research capabilities. We believe it is critical that our SI Practitioners are as confident in the underpinning neuroscience which informs their clinical reasoning and decision-making as they are with their practical skills. Furthermore, we strongly advocate and teach our students to critically appraise the literature and reflect on their practice in order to ensure they are adhering to the principles of evidence-based practice. To that end, our curriculum includes a variety of teaching methods including online interactive content, a minimum of 40 logged hours of clinical practice with the support of a SI clinical mentor, clinical reasoning workshops, tutorial groups and peer to peer support. In order to ensure that our students are able to evidence and demonstrate the application of their knowledge regarding this clinical intervention, they undertake rigorous assessment which enables their employers to have confidence in both their knowledge and skills.

    Those wishing to extend their clinical and research capabilities beyond the level of SI Practitioner undertake the final module to become an Advanced SI Practitioner and gain their Postgraduate Diploma in Sensory Integration. As an advanced practitioner it is anticipated that the therapist will engage with more complex clinical situations which require advanced clinical reasoning and assessment of risk and therefore students engage in advanced clinical reasoning workshops and undertake an additional minimum of 20 hours of logged clinical practice with the support of a clinical mentor and tutorial groups. These therapists also develop their education and leadership and management capabilities which equips them to build capacity and capability through work-based and interprofessional learning, understand how to evaluate service provision and present a robust business case in response to changing needs.

    We welcome any actions that raise the quality of assessment and management of sensory processing and integration challenges for the benefit of the person and their family to live life fully and safely.

  • 09 Feb 2021 17:20 | SIE News (Administrator)

    Sensory Integration Education is launching two more of its highly accessible, online introductory courses priced at only £5. These courses are adapted from our popular our “Understanding Sensory Processing and Integration for Parents and Carers” course to make it specific to these two populations:

    Read on for more information on these new courses:

    Understanding Sensory Processing and Integration in Teenagers and Young Adults - A Guide for Parents and Carers

    Teenagers with sensory processing and integration difficulties can grow more aware of the differences between themselves and their peers, which can affect their self-esteem and well-being. The urge to fit in can mean that they spend a lot of their available coping resources in an effort to camouflage or mask their different sensory responses - which is incredibly stressful and tiring. It may be the case that your teen or young adult hasn’t realised that sensory difficulties underlie why they feel life is so challenging and they may not know that sensory processing and integration can be changed.

    A large part of working with teenagers who have sensory processing and integration difficulties will be helping the young person to understand what they are experiencing, and providing safe and reassuring opportunities to talk about how sensory processing issues are affecting them. This short course will help you better understand the senses and how we process information from our senses. It will introduce you to what sensory issues can look like in a teenager’s behaviour and engagement, and give you a toolkit of ideas on how to support a teen’s sensory needs at home.

    Open to all, this introductory-level course is aimed at parents and carers of teens living with sensory processing and integration challenges. It includes 1 hour of content using slides with voice-over, animations, videos, quizzes and many resources to download. You will have 1 month to access the course which is priced at just £5.00 (includes Free Affiliate Membership for those who are not already SIE members). Find out more here.

    Understanding Sensory Processing and Integration in Adults with Learning Disabilities

    When supporting adults with learning disabilities, it is important that any sensory strategies are introduced with the cooperation of the individual. And consent and cooperation is only possible when the person understands what you are asking them to do and why. The first place to start with sensory integration strategies for people with learning disabilities is to help the person understand and notice how their own body is responding to the sensory challenges and demands of their everyday tasks.

    Aimed at carers for adults with learning disabilities, this short course will help you better understand the senses and how we process information from our senses. It will introduce you to what sensory issues can look like in the behaviour and engagement of an adult with learning disabilities, and give you a toolkit of ideas on how to support a person’s sensory needs in their home environment.

    The course comprises 1 hour of content using slides with voice-over, animations, videos, quizzes and many resources to download. You will have 1 month to access the course and it is priced at just £5.00 (includes Free Affiliate Membership for those who are not already SIE members). Find out more here.

    Both courses are of the high quality you expect from SIE and are accredited by The CPD Standards Office. These courses are designed to supplement professional, personalised intervention by a qualified SI Practitioner where and when that is available. You can search for qualified SI Practitioners and Advanced Practitioners on the Association of SI Practitioners’ Register.

  • 02 Feb 2021 11:41 | SIE News (Administrator)

    Access the latest sensory integration news, research, resources, courses, jobs, products and books in the latest issue of EmphaSIze - The Sensory Integration Newsletter.

    Simply log on to My SI resources to access the February issue. Not a member yet? Join free today.

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