During Jean Ayers 35 year career, she discovered a new ‘theory’ to explain a variety of neurological disorders in children. She was an occupational therapist, who became a brain researcher. From my understanding at the time of her discovery (70’s) the highest standing scientists in those years were resistant to her findings, which did not follow the accepted beliefs of the time. [Sensory Integration, Theory and Practice, 1991]
She was not a world-renowned scientist, thus lower on the scientific totem pole, so to speak. She did not belong to certain professional ‘societies’, and was viewed as an outsider in this field. Although her research and theory had educational implications, she was not in the educational field. As her work gained acceptance in her profession, resistance to it stiffened in the educational and medical communities.
During her lifetime (1920-1988) she was distressed by this injustice, yet never stopped pursuing her research. It is the continuing research, and the passage of time, that is proving to these professional societies the validity of her theory.
The testing and research continues, and many of today’s scholars are her former students. The stunning case documentation of so many children continues to rise as this condition known as Sensory Processing Disorder is rapidly gaining more widespread acceptance.
And so we enter the here and now…
Across the globe the acceptance and practice is spreading. Is it recognized by all states yet? No. Will it be? Yes! Many areas of our country have already seen and understood the benefits of this therapy, some are still behind. Other countries are ahead of the USA in acceptance and treatment. Is it possible that the medical community misdiagnoses children, because of ignorance or resistance? A sad resounding Yes! Is it true that far too many children go without treatment because insurance companies will not pay for it? Yes, unfortunately.
Some children are medicated when they do not need it, some children misdiagnosed, and some children lost altogether through the cracks of resistance. How many dropped out of school? How many abused, because they are hard to handle? How many more young lives thrown away before the world accepts this, and embraces the hope?
As each and every one of us finds therapy for our kids, and happily reports their progress, and changed lives, it grows. Every parent, every advocate, every study done, every magazine and article issued and research published…each and every time one of us ‘enlightens’ an educator, a doctor, or another parent we make a chink in the wall.
And that wall is surely, slowly coming down as it should have almost 30 years ago. With this generation, and our ability to speak up loud and clear we will not allow another generation of ‘lost’ children. Our very questions open doors, even though we may not know it.