Sensory Attachment Intervention
The Just Right State programme for parents and children
What is SAI
Sensory Attachment Intervention is a treatment approach for children and adults who have suffered early life trauma. It was developed by Occupational Therapist Eadaoin Bhreathnach and aims to “enable parents and children to learn the art of self-regulation through the use of sensory and engagement strategies” (Bhreathnach 2013).
Negative experiences in utero and early childhood impact on the person’s capacity to cope with stress throughout life. Frequently the individual will quickly demonstrate survival responses (fight, flight, freeze and dissociate). If a child is ‘stuck’ in survival mode, or quickly escalates into survival mode, it can leave them unable to access the cognitive (thinking part) of their brain. In terms of sensory processing, we tend to see that the child has over-responsive vision and hearing, leaving them in a state of hypervigilance.
Often children will be defensive to touch, especially nurturing touch or touch that is not on their terms. We also can see that children are struggling with their processing of proprioception (body awareness), vestibular (balance) and interoception (regulate hunger, thirst, toileting, temperature etc). Children sometimes struggle to adequately process their taste and smell sense.
Just Right State programme for parents and children
As a parent are you finding that everyday experiences with your child can feel unpleasant and/or overwhelming? Are transitions and change tricky, familiar or new textures or tastes that lead to upset and dysregulation?
As parents, it can be difficult to know how to respond to your child during moments of change. Former experiences of children, young people, and their caregivers can impact on daily interactions, stress and relationships. The Just Right State sensory attachment programme looks at the use of sensory activities and foods, to help children learn how to self regulate their emotional states and behaviour.
When children, young people and their caregivers are out of tune with how things feel, managing their emotions can become more difficult. The Just Right State Programme, developed by Eadoin Bhreathnach, can help.
The JRS programme draws from the theories of Ayres Sensory integration, Crittenden's Dynamic Maturational model of Attachment, Developmental trauma and Porges Polyvagal theory.
“The brain constantly selects which information it attends to, enhances, and inhibits, to enable us to function. How we process this information determines our behaviour and affects our capacity to engage with others.”