The year 2020 marks what would have been the 100 year birthday of Dr. A. Jean Ayres. In commemoration of this milestone, a vision was proposed to develop means for a valid, comprehensive assessment. As occupational therapists who are experienced in sensory integration evaluation and test development and who studied directly with Dr. A. Jean Ayres during the time she was developing tests of sensory integrative functions, Zoe Mailloux, L. Diane Parham, and Susanne Smith Roley are the goal leader team for this project. The name for the test is the Evaluation in Ayres Sensory Integration (EASI). The project is underway at Thomas Jefferson University, Pennsylvania.
The world has been designated into 20 regions. The international normative data collection (INDC) team includes Region Leads, Country Leads, Testers, and Support Team Members. The following diagram depicts the progression of the project:
Project EASI – India represents the International Normative Data Collection (INDC) testers from India. Dr. Manish Samnani is the region Lead for Region 8 Central Asia. He is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist with over 20 years in the field of Occupational Therapy. He is involved in conducting training programs both nationally as the faculty or internationally coordinating with SI bodies and faculty globally. I, Dr.Kamia Narang, am the country lead for India. I am a Pediatric Occupational Therapist practicing in Delhi, with 12+ years of experience and have been involved in this project for the last 1.5 years.
The Evaluation in Ayres Sensory Integration® is a set of tests which will measure all the core constructs of Ayres Sensory Integration (i.e., sensory perception, ocular, postural, & bilateral integration, praxis, and sensory reactivity.) The tests will be “open access” meaning that the test sheets, test forms, test manual, and other necessary materials for administering and scoring the test will be made available free of charge to appropriately trained professionals (most likely through verified training programs). The EASI is designed to assess children ages 3-12 years of age and we hope to collect normative data in close to 100 countries.
In most countries, the majority of the INDC testers will be occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists. In some countries, other health-related and educational professionals, such as psychologists, may also assist in the process. While training and education in Ayres Sensory Integration® will likely help INDC testers to learn and practice the tests, there is not a training prerequisite, unless determined necessary by a specific country.
Training for the tests will include reading the test manual, reviewing all the test sheets and forms, viewing video demonstrations, and completing online lessons. Some countries may also offer in-person training and support, but it is not expected that travel or attendance at onsite training will be required. (Each tester will get enrolled in a unique dashboard created by CLASI (Collaborative for Leadership in Ayres Sensory Integration) with individualized IDs and passwords once we get the consent from the tester to be a part of this project).
We expect that learning and practicing the test administration and scoring will take 25-35 hours.
For therapists who will volunteer to enroll would be assisted to take online lessons of the test and a soft copy of the manual would be provided free of cost. EASI India team would also offer a Q&A to testers who have already completed Online Scoring Checks training lessons to help them speed up and facilitate to organize the test materials. The online Zoom training (date to be decided) is also open to therapists already enrolled as INDC testers.
Efforts to develop and disseminate standards for competency in ASI is currently underway under another aspect of the ASI 2020 Vision (Goal #3), through a non-profit group called the International Council for Education in ASI (ICEASI). While participating as an EASI INDC tester will certainly help professionals to learn to administer and score the EASI, this is only one as aspect of training in ASI. There are many organizations and groups around the world which will be offering training and education in ASI that meet the ICEASI standards and we expect that participation as an INDC tester will meet some, but certainly not all, the requirements of those programs.
Typically developing children, ages 3-12 years, who are representative of each country’s population will be included in the normative data collection. Specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, as well as assistance with recruiting children, will be provided.
To increase the consistency in testing, we hope that each INDC will test 10 children. If it is not possible to test 10, 5 will be the minimum. The amount of time needed to test will depend somewhat on the proficiency of the tester and on the abilities of the child being tested. The INDC versions of the tests will be longer than the final versions so that items can later be selected that are best for children of varying ages. However, we expect that the normative versions of the tests should be able to be completed in two one-hour sessions, plus another half hour for scoring. Estimating 3 hours per child should be realistic.
Since all the test sheets, etc., will be available on a website, there will be some nominal costs for printing forms (paper and ink). The EASI also includes some objects that can be easily found (e.g. a yoga mat, chopstick, file folders, plastic water bottles, etc.) In addition, plastic objects needed for the tactile tests are printed on 3D printers. The estimated cost for these is under $100 USD. Finally, testers will wish to assemble organizational materials (e.g. bins and carriers) to increase efficiency in testing and to allow transport and storage of the tests. These costs will vary depending on the choices made. The test kits assembled will be the property of the individual INDC tester, so hopefully, these costs will be an investment in a test kit that will be used in the future once the tests are finalized. For testers who cannot afford test materials, efforts will be made to offer assistance.
Because of the pandemic, the deadline for collecting the normative data has been extended to December 31, 2020.
A comprehensive assessment is critical for effective and appropriate intervention. We need accessible and feasible tests in sensory integration so that we can understand children fully and plan intervention programs which will help them to participate fully and successfully in life. Offering the EASI as an open-source test (i.e. free of charge to appropriately trained professionals) is only be possible because of the generous efforts of many dedicated therapists around the world. This unique global effort will likely be an important milestone in the development of ASI and participating as an INDC tester will be a special opportunity and those who help will be widely acknowledged. Most importantly, however, the EASI INDC testers will be contributing to a large-scale effort to ensure that children and families around the globe receive the services they need.