Ayres Sensory Integration®: Application & Individualization for ASD

presented by Susan Spitzer

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How can we help children with autism build a sensory foundation for maximal interaction/engagement with the world? Sensory needs are recognized widely as a significant factor in the daily lives of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD); and yet the diversity of those needs requires an individually-tailored approach. Ayres Sensory Integration® is an evidence-based approach for targeting a sensory foundation for daily life for children with ASD. In addition to this evidence, the course presents the core elements of the approach as it applies to this population and specific strategies for individualizing the approach for commonly-encountered challenges such as motivation, rigidity, and emotional dysregulation. Strategies are illustrated with video cases for children with a diverse range of ASD.

Meet Your Instructor

  • Susan Spitzer, PhD, OTR/L

    Susan Spitzer, PhD, OTR/L

    Susan Spitzer is a licensed occupational therapist, author, and lecturer with expertise in sensory integration, play, and autism spectrum disorders. She has operated her own private practice clinic in Pasadena, CA for 12 years. Her highly creative and individualized approach continues to energize her practice after 20 years of experience. Previously, she directed a hospital program and worked in early intervention programs and public and private schools. She is certified in sensory integration and the Interactive Metronome®. Dr. Spitzer has taught occupational therapy courses at the University of Southern California. She is a highly respected presenter for audiences within and outside of occupational therapy. Her work radiates her passion about the benefits of occupational therapy as well as the capacity for development and potentiality in all children with developmental disabilities. Dr. Spitzer received her B.A. in psychology from Claremont McKenna College, where she conducted research on video modeling for play with children with autism and assisted in behavioral interventions. She received both her M.A. in occupational therapy and her Ph.D. in occupational science from the University of Southern California. Her doctoral research focused on understanding individual meaning in activities for children with autism. This research and training provided the foundation for her focus on using personal occupational meaning as the cornerstone for effective intervention. Dr. Spitzer’s professional endeavors have been driven by her desire to make research more accessible and relevant to practice. Currently, she is co-editing the 4th edition of the text, Autism: A Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Approach (published by the American Occupational Therapy Association). She co-authored the text book Activity Analysis, Creativity, and Playfulness in Pediatric Occupational Therapy: Making Play Just Right, as well as chapters in other books. She has written several articles in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy as well as published in the Journal of Occupational Science and the Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Selecting Ayres Sensory Integration® for a Child with ASD

    1. Selecting Ayres Sensory Integration® for a Child with ASD

    The prevalence and nature of wide-spread sensory deficits and differences are presented. Sensory processing is connected to functional difficulties experienced by individuals with autism. The compatibility and evidence-based outcomes of a sensory integration approach for individuals with autism are articulated.

  2. Applying Ayres Sensory Integration® to Address Sensory Needs in Children with ASD

    2. Applying Ayres Sensory Integration® to Address Sensory Needs in Children with ASD

    Children with ASD often have specific needs impacting the ten process elements of Ayres Sensory Integration®. This chapter illustrates application of these elements for children with ASD as well as presents clinical reasoning guidelines for implementing these different elements within a treatment session.

  3. Motivating & Engaging a Child with a Weak Inner Drive and Restricted Interests

    3. Motivating & Engaging a Child with a Weak Inner Drive and Restricted Interests

    Despite the benefits of a sensory integration approach to meet the core sensory needs of children with ASD, the features of ASD often present unique challenges in implementing this approach. It can be difficult to motivate some children with ASD to engage in therapy. This chapter analyzes the sensory integration factors related to a weak inner drive and limited interests and identifies targeted strategies to meet these challenges.

  4. Maximizing Participation in the Presence of Rigidity, Repetitiveness, & Resistance

    4. Maximizing Participation in the Presence of Rigidity, Repetitiveness, & Resistance

    Children with autism may insist on adhering to particular routines, engage in repetitive behaviors, and resist therapeutic activities. This chapter analyzes the sensory integration factors related to rigid habits and patterns, repetitive thoughts and movements, and resistance to direction as well as identifies targeted strategies to meet these challenges.

  5. Emotional Regulation and Individualizing a Sensory Integrative Approach

    5. Emotional Regulation and Individualizing a Sensory Integrative Approach

    Heightened frustration and anxiety in children with ASD challenge the therapist’s ability to engage the child in successful therapeutic challenges. This chapter analyzes the sensory integration factors related to frustration and anxiety as well as identifies targeted strategies to meet these challenges.