Bunbury Occupational Therapy
|Posted on 18 July, 2020 at 20:35|
Today would have been Dr A Jean Ayres' 100th birthday and although COVID prevented attending an international congress and celebration in honour of Dr Ayres, it remains fitting to pay tribute to this amazing, pioneer occupational therapist.
We are grateful that Dr Ayres persevered to formulate a theory based on neuro-science at a time when it was unheard of to do research into the functions of he brain as a woman, and as an occupational therapist and pshychologist to boot (i.e. not a medical doctor!) She further persisted to develop assessments to test the theory that "slow learning and poor behavior in children are often caused by inadequeate sensory integration within the child's brain", and she developed treatment focused on the child. And all the while she was a clinician, she continued to do research.
What exactly is sensory integration then? Let me answer by quoting Dr Ayres from her book to parents called 'Sensory Integration and the Child':
• "Sensory integration is the organization of sensations for use. Our senses give us information about the physical conditions of our body and the environment around us."
• "The brain must organize all of these sensations if a person is to move and learn and behave in a productive manner."
• "You can think of sensations as 'food for the brain'; they provide the knowledge needed to direct the body and mind. But without well-organized sensory processes, sensations cannot be digested and nourish the brain."
• "Sensations are streams of electrical impulses...These impulses must be integrated to give them meaning. Integration is what turns sensations into perception."
• "When the flow of sensations is disorganized, life can be like a rush hour traffic jam."
• "Sensory integration 'puts it all together'."
I never knew Dr Ayres, but consider it a great privilege to have had the opportunity to study Ayres Sensory Integration theory, test, interpretation and treatment modules under master clinicians trained by and/or working with Ayres herself.
Ayres Sensory Integration is a special interest and key frame of reference in our occupational therapy process at SPOTS - Therapy for Children. It is wonderful to see how this approach improve confidence and skills in children to ultimately help them enjoy and participate in every day life.
Happy birthday Dr Ayres and thank you for your continued focus to understand and help children.