Angela Palling (NHS)
The Occupational Therapist’s (OT) role is to implement approaches and techniques to maximise a student’s engagement, achievement and independence in all activities (occupations). These may include areas of self-care (e.g. dressing , eating a meal, using the toilet, having the correct slings/equipment); work or being productive (e.g. attending school, caring for others); sensory needs (e.g. sensory processing needs and anxieties resulting from this); and leisure (e.g. playing or socialising with friends, accessing hobbies or sport). Students may experience disruption to their occupations due to injury, illness or disability, family circumstances, or at times of transition, and the OT will provide a dynamic and student-focused programme that enables them to function in the different environments a student will find themselves in.
Occupational Therapists utilise a holistic approach to support the students to do what they need and/or want to do in daily life, taking into account their individual abilities, strengths and needs. An OT works alongside the staff team and may work directly with a student (or a group of students) or provide a program for a student that the staff team can oversee themselves. The OT will then ensure regular evaluation of these programs is carried out.
Occupational Therapy (Sensory Integration)
Tammy Harris & Eleanor Blanchfield (Independent)
What is Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT)
Sensory Integration Therapy is a highly-specialised treatment developed to treat those with sensory processing disorders. SIT is a robust treatment approach for sensory deficits affecting the individual’s sensory interpretation of their body, environment & activity/response. Therapy is provided in an environment created specifically for the individual to provide a variety of sensory opportunities that can stimulate or relax as well as helping process the sensory experience for a student. Sensory Integration Therapy offers a practical understanding of how sensory processing difficulties contribute to a break down in behaviour. Play is a fundamental process within SIT where sensorimotor experiences are provided through exploration which enhances the brain’s processing of information & provides a foundation for learning.
Sensory Attachment Intervention (SAI)
Sensory Attachment Interventiondraws from Attachment & Sensory Integration Theory. It looks at parent/child engagement as a reciprocal & mutually regulating process. Focus is on provision of therapeutic spaces that cater for the child’s sensory & attachment needs. The aim of treatment is to enable parents & children to learn the art of self-regulation & co-regulation through the use of sensory & engagement. Understanding attachment theory offers insight into how insecure attachment leads to specific types of behavioural patterns. Understanding the patterns enables professionals to know how to relate to the child in a more informed way.
The effectiveness of SAI is determined by the close collaboration of professionals & families involved with the child. This allows the child to benefit from the consistent provision of strategies & approaches being implemented throughout his/her day. Progress & development is not just bound to the therapy session but involves exposure to enriched environments in everyday life to enable the child to ‘re- set’ to a regulated status.