Today’s post was written by Stefanie Kruger, who holds the position of Head of Faculty for SASIC 1 and is lecturing on the SASIC 1 course this week.

We are all familiar with the phrase “Hindsight is 2020 vision”. It seems to have been printed for the first time in the early 1900’s and attributed to the film director Billy Wilder. This metaphor describes the perfect clarity of understanding from a distance, when we are looking back in time at a situation or event. Looking back at the year 2020, this phrase has a much deeper meaning now, and a very different perspective, even if it has been used for over a century by different people in different contexts.

15 March 2020 is a day we will remember for various reasons. It was my daughter’s 8th birthday party. We were relaxing and celebrating at the dam with friends, enjoying the outdoors, the children’s laughter and being in each other’s company. Little did we know of the president’s announcement that would come later that evening, and that weeks of Level 5 hard lockdown with strict regulations were to follow due to COVID-19, the pandemic that brought the whole world to a standstill, and possibly changed our lives forever. Can you remember where you were that day?

Many disappointments and challenges soon followed, including cancelling SASIC 1 2020, a week before the course. We expanded our vocabularies and learnt to include new words and routines like social distancing, masks and sanitizer on a daily basis. We also learnt new skills from baking, to brewing, to scheduling Zoom meetings, attending webinars and presenting telehealth sessions, to name but a few.

15 March 2021, exactly a year after lockdown was implemented for the first time, SAISI rolled out the very first hybrid SASIC 1, with a total of 113 participants. Not only is this the biggest SASIC 1 course to date (according to records available), but it is also history in the making having both face-to-face and live-streaming participants across South Africa, Namibia, as well as the United Arab Emirates. We are extremely grateful that all of this is happening, and to make it even more special, it is happening in SAISI’s 40th birthday year! It is indeed a time to celebrate friendships, opportunities and memories, but also a time to mark these momentous milestones and use the new knowledge and skills we gained in 2020 to move forward in a new way.

This historic hybrid SASIC 1 course would not have been possible without hours, weeks and months of dedication, planning and preparation of a passionate SAISI board, and the blood, sweat and tears of an incredible team of people working together and getting things done while juggling their family and work responsibilities. Let’s also pay tribute to the participants who are embarking on their journeys of sensory integration training, and showing their perseverance, even amidst uncertainties. Thank you to everyone for their contributions who made this course a reality! And now with the first hybrid SASIC 2 around the corner, we are definitely looking towards the future with humility, wisdom and the perspective of 2020, as well as the excitement of possibilities we could see being implemented early on in 2021.

When we look further back, there was a time where theory courses were presented in cold church halls, and where transparencies and faxes were at the order of the day. People’s names, numbers and addresses were printed in the telephone book, phones were plugged into walls, and the internet was something you had to dial into. There was a time (not too long ago) that the gross motor items were available on VHS, we received the SAISI Newsletter in the mail, and the small blue clinical observations booklet had the old SAISI logo. Times are changing, and we have to embrace the bittersweet impact of technology that is changing the rules and parameters of the game, of life.

Dr Jean Ayres was often described as a visionary before her time. She gave us the gift of solid theory, rooted with one foot in neuroscience, and the other in the art of play and connection. Ayres’ Sensory Integration® is an evolving theory, which keeps on evolving by means of rigorous research by her scholars and others following in their footsteps across the globe. This includes updating standardised assessments from the SCSIT, to the SIPT, and now with the EASI on the horizon, as well as providing evidence-based practice and intervention guidelines from the Fidelity measure. SAISI is striving to present courses that are up to date, and adhere to internationally recognised standards so that the courses are also keeping up with times and evolving requirements. This new generation of therapists is gearing up, to be able to support the children and families of the future in these everchanging times.

We had my daughter’s 9th birthday party the weekend before the course, and were very excited that we could be out again, celebrating with friends. But there is also a much deeper gratitude in this mixture of excitement and nerves: that soft voice reminding us that things can change quickly, that we have to learn to adapt and do things in a new way, and to appreciate the opportunities and special people in our lives in the present moment.

May 2021 be a year of growth, while moving forward with the clarity and simplicity of 2020 vision.