What happens in the sessions and how many sessions will be required will vary according to your child’s specific challenges and needs.
However, in general terms, my work in the NHS (with its limited resources per child) taught me to find rapid ways to assess, bond with and support children – to maximise the effectiveness of what was often only a limited number of available sessions per child.
Typically, noticeable progress will be made within 4 sessions.
The first significant steps will take place in the clinic and I will enable you to continue and develop your child’s sensory processing skills outside the clinic so that the results will continue to develop even after our sessions.
In terms of what happens in the sessions and what outcome you might expect, I believe that one of the best ways to understand what Sensory Integration involves is to read accounts of the difficulties the kids came in with, the steps I took to help them, and how things changed as a result. From time to time, I will write about a case of a child I have seen for therapy sessions that will help to illustrate the PlayWay approach.
Case study 1:
A 3-year-old boy, L, with Autism came to see me at the clinic after a referral from his Speech and Language Therapist.
At the time L did not speak and had many meltdowns both at home and at nursery. He walked around with objects in his hands which he refused to let go of. At nursery he mainly spun around objects. He only managed 5 minutes of adult led activity and in this time it was hard to introduce new activities.
I saw L for 6 sessions in the clinic where I used the Sensory Integration approach to try and improve L’s engagement, communication and play. During the sessions I helped L improve his ability to climb and swing which he did not like to do before. I also used deep pressure games to help him calm. This support to his sensory processing skills allowed him to be free to experience new activities, to open up to opportunities around him. His mother watched the sessions and, at first, needed to use the swing with L to help him engage.
By the 6th session L was calm in the room. His mother was able to sit and watch the session and he was able to let go of his toys. Once when I forgot to return them to him at the end of a session he used sound and gesture to remind his mother, which he had never done before. He also started playing with a range of toys including pretend play where he was feeding/ brushing hair and teeth of a ּּּּּBob the Builder soft toy.
L became calmer at home and at nursery. His mother said that she has started to create similar activities to the ones she saw in the clinic at home and this improved his engagement in new games. On a visit to his nursery 2 month later L was playing with a range of meaningful activities and he joined a group of children playing with water. He was also able to engage in adult led activity for more than 20 minutes (the activity finished before L requested to leave). Furthermore, L’s speech and language therapist felt that now that he is more engaged she was able to support him better and had a larger range of activities she could now suggest.