About Sensory Integration (Sensory Processing Disorder)

Sensory Integration was developed by the late Jean Ayres, an Occupational Therapist and Educational Psychologist in the late 60’s and 70’s. Ayres helped demonstrate how children could be affected by an inability to receive and process sensory information, and how this would then impact on everyday activities such as play and dressing yourself. Her work is now supported through further research and brain imaging techniques.

The Assessment Process

The assessment will take place in a relaxed and informal way, with everything being geared to making the child feel comfortable through a play-based approach. The assessment process may vary depending on what is commissioned.
Ideally both parents/carers should be present for the home elements the process, and in general, the assessment will be carried out in the following order, however this may vary dependent on the assessment package agreed:

  • Home visit to meet with parents and discuss the child’s strengths and the participation challenges that they and the child face
  • Home visit to meet the child with their parents/carers. At this visit the Occupational Therapist will also perform some clinical observations and some non-standardised assessments, along with discussing any areas that the child finds challenging.  Please note that videoing may be used, but only once written permission has been agreed with parents/carers and the child.
  • School visit to observe the child in various environments (classroom, playground, sports), and to meet with and talk to the teacher/TA.
  • Report and Strategy Programme produced (we would expect this to be sent to you within approximately 6 weeks following completion of the assessment process).
  • Feedback meeting with parents
  • Feedback meeting to school

Clinical Observations

These are a series of exercises that will help the therapist to gain information regarding the child’s muscle strength, quality of movement and postural control.  They will also allow the therapist to monitor the child’s reactions to specific sensory challenges, such as being moved in various directions.

Non-Standardised Assessments

These are assessments that are not performed in a specific manner or necessarily relate to age norms.  They will be for example: handwriting, ball skills, construction exercises etc. and again will be completed in a very relaxed, informal, and fun way. The child may also be asked if they would like to play a game of their choice with the therapist.

Standardised Assessments

The therapist will complete some standardised assessments with the parents, the child, or both, (or leave them with them for completion), which asks a series of questions on different areas of sensory processing. This is to get an idea of how the child’s sensory processing works across the different senses e.g. are they over or under responsive; there are no wrong answers.

What happens following the Assessment? (Report and Strategy Programme)

Following the assessment, a sensory report, and if commissioned, a strategy programme will be completed.

The report is a summary of findings from the assessment, which will also confirm whether treatment would be recommended.

The strategy programme is intended to give useful ideas and things to consider that can be adapted, removed, or added to the environment to better support the child’s needs in home and school. These are strategies and ideas suitable for implementation by parents/teachers etc. and will be discussed with your OT at the feedback meeting.

NB. These ideas should be introduced gradually and not all in one go, and it may be that they need adapting and reviewing over time. They must always be led by the child’s choice and preferences and no activities are to be forced on the child.