You may or may not know that on 18 July 1920, Dr A. Jean Ayres was born, making 2020 what would have been her 100th birthday. As we gear up for celebrations in July 2020 and 2021, we take a look at some of the organisations, groups and congresses focused on continuing her work, ensuring her legacy and promoting education and research in the field. The following information has been taken from each organisation’s respective websites. You can click on each link to learn more, or join their Facebook pages/groups to stay up to date with their events. Many of the organisations have wonderful resources, as well as online learning opportunities during lock down. So here’s our list of “ASI’s”:
The South African Institute of Sensory Integration’s vision is to provide training and education in Ayres Sensory Integration® of an internationally accepted standard in order to provide a service of excellence to the ultimate benefit of the client. Our mission includes:
- To equip occupational therapists with basic as well as advanced up-to-date Ayres Sensory Integration® interpretation principles and treatment techniques.
- To promote awareness within the multi-disciplinary framework in order to play a leading role in the application of Ayres Sensory Integration® theory and practice in South Africa and in the rest of the world.
- To make Ayres Sensory Integration® accessible to the network of individuals (including caregivers, parents and teachers) involved in the context of the client.
ICEASI came together in 2008 to both develop and safeguard the standards of education in Ayres Sensory Integration®. The members represent organisations with national profiles of providing training and education in Ayres Sensory Integration®. ICEASI meet every year around the European Congress of Sensory Integration (ESIC).
CLASI provides innovative and customized partnership, scholarship, and mentorship opportunities for mastering, applying and advancing knowledge in Ayres Sensory Integration® (ASI) theory and practice in order to support and develop leaders, promote knowledge development, disseminate evidence-based information and facilitate learning and skills. Co-founded by first-generation students of Dr. A. Jean Ayres, CLASI is committed to following her tradition of excellence and research in practice. CLASI offers educational programs online and in more than a dozen countries around the world. Course materials are derived from Ayres’ original publications and subsequent research in basic and applied science related to sensation and the impact on human function. CLASI is a member of the International Council for Education in Ayres Sensory Integration (ICEASI) which provides global standards for education in ASI.
ASI-WISE is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2017 to provide affordable, accessible hands-on education and CPD about Ayres’ Sensory Integration for occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists across the UK and Ireland. Kath Smith and Ros Urwin have led the development and application into older adolescent and adult/older adult clinical populations including trauma since 1999 in the United Kingdom, supporting and developing this awareness and teaching into Europe and further afield. Through the Sensory Project, ASI-WISE are building a community of support, mentoring and collaboration to equip and empower practitioners in Ayres’ Sensory Integration, enabling them to deliver the best possible, evidence-based therapeutic interventions to each individual.
In March 2004, during the yearly Research 2000 (R2K) conference series on sensory integration and related research, 20 people from North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe who are practicing and teaching Sensory Integration in the tradition of Dr. Ayres, gathered in California for an International Networking Meeting. At this meeting these individuals founded an organizational body to promote and protect Ayres’ theory and it’s applications in practice: the Sensory Integration Global Network (SIGN).
SIGN is made up of a group of volunteers who are dedicated to protecting the integrity and promoting the work of Dr. A. Jean Ayres in Sensory Integration Theory and Intervention. The originators of this group include former co-workers and students of Dr. Ayres, who are now among the leading experts in the field, and occupational therapists committed to providing occupational therapy services from a sensory integrative perspective in a manner consistent with Ayres’ core principles. In addition to the support of the Successor Trustee of Dr. Ayres’ estate, who now holds the trademark term Ayres Sensory Integration® (ASI), participation at the ground level has also included businesses who manufacture tests and equipment related to sensory integration.
The very first International Sensory Integration Congress was hosted by SAISI in Cape Town, South Africa and opened by SAISI’s own Dr Annemarie van Jaarsveld, a real research leader in the field. Twenty four countries were represented, and the latest research in ASI® was presented. In 2019, ISIC was hosted in Hong Kong, and a very special celebration was planned for Rodondo Beach, California for July 2020. ISIC 2020 had to be postponed unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we look forward to the celebrations in 2021.
The European Sensory Integration Congress is an event that joins therapists and specialists from worldwide that are interested in sensory integration. The first meeting was held in a castle near Vienna in 2003, in a meeting titled “Sensory Integration Original – Today” and hosted 100 participants from 10 countries. SAISI was represented at the congress in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017. The 6th ESIC (2019) took place in Thessaloniki, Greece and we were proud that Shanna Louwrens represented South Africa in her presentation on SI profiles in children with cerebral palsy. Previous venues have included Algarve (Portugal), Naantali (Finland), Birmingham (United Kingdom), and Vienna (Austria).
As mentioned above, the year 2020 marks what would have been the 100 year birthday of Dr. A. Jean Ayres. In commemoration of this milestone, the following vision is proposed as part of the Ayres 2020 Vision:
Ayres Sensory Integration® will have a strong, international presence with demonstrated scholarship, means for valid, comprehensive assessment and pathways for training to ensure the ongoing development, standards of excellence and effective implementation of this important work.
The following goals have been established by the international community, in keeping with things that would have mattered to Dr. Ayres, aimed at achieving this vision:
1) Promoting Scholarship in ASI®: Dr. Ayres was committed to the scientific method in building her theory and ensuring ongoing evolution of this important work.
Goal: 100 papers that further the understanding and evidence for ASI®, will be published in peer reviewed journals (start date January 2013) (must reference or be consistent with Ayres Sensory Integration®)
2) Ensuring Effective Intervention through Comprehensive Assessment in ASI®: Dr. Ayres developed highly valid and reliable methods for evaluating comprehensive sensory integrative functions that have stood the test of time. We value these tests and encourage ongoing training in their use, as well as in theory and practice in ASI®. However, there is a need for a valid and reliable set of tests of key sensory motor functions that is accessible to therapists all over the world so that they can identify, understand and treat sensory integrative dysfunction.
Goal: a set of tests with demonstrated reliability and validity will be developed and internationally normed in 100 countries and made available at low or no cost.
Update: We are very excited about the International Normative Data Collection for the Evaluation of Ayres Sensory Integration (EASI) that is currently taking place. South Africa has made a great contribution, testing over 300 children for establishment of norms and diagnostic patterns.
3) Facilitating ongoing development and implementation of ASI®: Dr. Ayres mentored a generation of therapists, educators and researchers who have followed the road map she left for implementation of ASI®. It is time to ensure that leadership and pathways to excellence in the ASI® approach are in place for future generations.
Goal: Sensory integration training that includes clearly defined pathways for demonstrating competency in ASI® will be developed and available in 100 countries.
As you can see, Ayres Sensory Integration® has a worldwide presence, and there are many therapists and scholars dedicated to the continued study and furtherance of her work, as well as protection of the integrity of the name of Ayres Sensory Integration®.
Please join SAISI on 20 July 2020 for our Ayres 100th Birthday Celebration Bash, as we look back on the development of ASI®, and look forward to the future! More information can be found on our Events page soon.