Sensory Integration

Sensory Integration is how we process and respond to sensory information in everyday activities. 

For children and young people their primary occupations are school, play and activities of daily living, including feeding, dressing and washing.  

We recognise that some children may find these occupations difficult due to how they process sensory information from the environment or internally, within their body, and this may affect their behaviour in many ways. 

At The Retreat Clinics, we offer Sensory Integration Therapy, which is a type of Occupational Therapy, to help children to participate successfully in the activities of everyday life.


Please note our Children’s and Young People’s Therapeutic and Neurodevelopmental  Services are located at the following address: 

The Retreat at Charles Court, Northfields, Strensall, York YO32 5XP 

Sensory Integration Services at The Retreat

Who is the service for?

  • Children and young people aged 5 to 17
  • Children or young people with sensory difficulties (hypersensitivity/ hyposensitivity) which is impacting on wellbeing and engagement
  • Children or young people who have behaviours that challenge
  • Children or young people with extreme sensory responses to mell, lights, sound, tastes, and touch.

Children with specific difficulties in the following areas: 

  • washing and dressing
  • organisation skills
  • motor coordination
  • riding a bike, a scooter or performing hopping and skipping
  • learning to tie shoelaces or produce legible handwriting
  • concentration and attention
  • following instructions
  • getting hands/face/feet dirty (ie messy play)
  • regulating their own body temperature, hunger or pain, tiredness
  • sleep (getting to sleep or staying asleep)
  • extreme sensitivity to certain sensory experiences – sounds, smells, lights, taste, touch.



Basic Package
Up to 2x face-to-face assessments including report = £748
Additional hours work spent £95 per hour.

Complex Package
Up to 4x face-to-face assessments including report = £1034
Additional hours work spent £95 per hour.


What is Sensory Processing?

Dr Ayres (1972) describes Sensory Integration as “the organization of sensations for use. The neurological process that organises sensation from one’s own body and from the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively within the environment”. It helps us to do the things we need to do in our everyday life.

Sensory Processing describes the way we receive and interpret stimuli from our sensory systems. We have 8 sensory receptors (touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision, vestibular/balance and proprioception/body awareness, interception/ internal body signals) which work together to help us to maintain posture, move, stay alert, act and learn.

Our bodies naturally crave the need for regulation, for example if we spend too long in a noisy environment, we will withdraw, attempt to muffle the sound or become agitated. If we sit in one position for too long, we naturally have a desire to move about, shuffle, fidget or rock. These reactions are ‘typical’ and it is not uncommon for a person to have unique sensory preferences.

Sensory processing is the foundation to our ability to engage with the world around us and function within it. If our ability to process sensory information is not working properly, we will have difficulties with daily living activities.

Difficulties in sensory processing can affect every aspect of a person’s functioning, their ability to participate and learn, and some reactions to this can be more extreme. Out of context, these behaviours can appear unusual and can hinder social interaction, participation, and ability to perform some functional skills.

The Sensory Assessment Process

We offer a sensory assessment process to help children, young people and their families to understand a person’s sensory profile. We consider how the individual interprets the incoming sensations, how they are processed internally, and how responses to sensory information can impact on interaction within environments and on behaviours elicited.

The assessment usually consists of three stages of appointments:

1. The first appointment can either be online via video call or in person at Charles Court. During the appointment the therapist will ask the child, young person or family a range of questions to gather background information in relation to any diagnoses they may have, their early development, how the young person experiences their senses and what impact this has on their day to day life. You will be given additional questionnaires to complete at home or to pass on to other key people/ environments such as school/ college.

2. The following appointments are usually face to face at Charles Court and these give us an opportunity to do some movement activities so the therapist can see how the child or young person is integrating sensory information. These sessions are usually more physical and you will be invited into the sensory spaces we have at Charles Court to play, explore and play some movement games. We will also have the opportunity to discuss anything that came up when completing the questionnaires. The therapist will establish how many of these appointments are required. Usually 2-4 hours are offered split over a few visits.

3. The closing appointment can be online via video call or in person at Charles Court and will be a feedback session where the findings of the assessments can be discussed, any questions answered and an opportunity to get clarification or explanation of the resources, strategies and recommendations moving forward. A copy of the report will be sent to you in advance of this appointment so we can discuss together.

Specialist assessment is led by a Sensory Integration trained Occupational Therapists (SI Network Level 3 or 4 trained) who are HCPC registered and a member of RCOT and The Sensory Integration Network.

What happens in a Sensory Integration therapy session?

You will come to the main reception and sign in with reception. When the therapist is ready you will be invited to go to the Sensory Area. In the Sensory Area, there are three rooms. 

In the Sensory Integration Room 

There will be opportunity to do lots of movement activities with equipment set up in the room specifically for the child/ young person. Swings may be set up already which are used to help the child/ young person gain more body awareness. Activities will be chosen to help stimulate what is called an ‘adaptive response,’ in other words to help the child/ young person’s nervous system to adapt to the difficulties they have in receiving incoming sensory input. 

The sessions are designed to be fun, engaging, and playful with the therapist and the child working together to develop ideas to safely explore the space and the equipment. The activities the therapist sets for the child/ young person will be chosen to provide a ‘just right challenge’ for them. Nothing too challenging or demanding will be asked of the child/ young person, but enough to be achievable with some effort.  

In sessions, the child/ young person is an active participant, helping to choose some of the activities. We may ask the child/ young person to make and move around an assault course for example. On the swing, the child/ young person may be asked to throw a ball at a target or attempt to catch a moving object while they are swinging. The child / young person may wish to spend some time doing puzzles or crafts within the session, and we have many tubs of toys, games, and activities to explore together. 

The child/ young person will have 1 hour within the session, and within that time there is scope to utilise the other rooms if required. This will be decided by the therapist.

Towards the end of the session, the therapist will let the child/ young person know there are 10 minutes left, and when the session ends, they will return to the reception area.

In some instances, a parent/ carer may wish to accompany the child/ young person within the Sensory Integration room. This is promoted for the first session, however not required for subsequent sessions unless stated by the therapist. We have designated waiting rooms for parents/ carers to access while the therapy is taking place. 

In the calm room

This space is designed to be a ‘chill-out space’ with beanbags and cushions to relax in. The room also has adjustable lights and some slow-moving visual features like a projector and bubble tubes. This space can be utilised within the sessions if the therapist feels it is beneficial for the child/ young person.  

 In the clinic room

The clinic room, called Neptune, is a space which you may be invited to use when doing fine motor skill tasks, or anything which requires handwriting. We have a desk and chairs set up in this space to offer a less stimulating environment. Parents and carers may utilise this space while the child/ young person is in the other rooms. 


Rachel Derry

I qualified as an Occupational Therapist BSc (Hons) from York St John University in 2011, gaining a Post-Graduate Certificate in Sensory Integration in 2015. Further training includes; Sensory Attachment Intervention, Autism and Interoception, Autism and Tactile Processing, Autism and Eating Disorders, Attachment and Psychopathology, Sensory Integration and Trauma. Rachel holds a DSB Enhanced Enclosure and is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), Sensory Integration Network and Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).

I have 10 years’ experience setting up Occupational Therapy Services within school establishments including organising and implementing assessments, treatment, sensory motor groups, wider school support, training and consultation. I have also worked closely with Schools, Local Authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and Business Managers, raising awareness of sensory processing difficulties and sensory integration across Yorkshire. In my early career, I supported communities overseas, working with children’s organisations to develop Occupational Therapy and Sensory Integration in the north of Bulgaria.

Lucy Thompson

I qualified with a BSc in Occupational Therapy in 2006 and have specialised in working with individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions since 2009.  I completed my level 1, 2 & 3 in Ayres Sensory Integration and gained Sensory Integration Practitioner qualification in 2018 and went on to develop and delivered a specialist sensory motor pathway within the service I worked.  Since joining The Retreat in 2021 I have also completed my level 4 training in sensory integration, and I am now an Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner.  I also have additional training in Systemic Family Therapy and Sensory Attachment Intervention.

As an occupational therapist I am interested in how I can help people do the things they need and want to do in everyday life. I am passionate about how sensory processing underpins everything we do as it is the foundation on which all other skills develop.  We all have sensory differences and that’s what makes us unique, but for some people these differences can make participating in everyday activities challenging.  I work with individuals and in consultation with other significant people in their lives to gain understanding about their individual sensory profile and what strategies or treatments might be helpful.

Guy Richardson

I qualified with an MSc in Occupational Therapy in 2011. Since then, I commenced Sensory Integration Practitioner training in 2015 and completed my Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner qualification in March 2020.

I specialise in neurodevelopmental conditions and sensory integration therapy. As an occupational therapist I take a “whole-person approach” to health and wellbeing and aim to enable individuals to achieve their full potential. Occupational therapy provides practical support to empower individuals to overcome barriers preventing them from doing activities aiming to increase people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.

Neurodiverse individuals often have unique and diverse sensory experiences and so my sensory integration training allows me to specifically consider this area, and what strategies and treatments may be beneficial. 

Get In Touch 

To refer a child or young person to our sensory integration service, or just to talk to us about whether we can help, please complete the initial referral form here or call us on 01904 412 551 and select option 3. 


Sensory Integration Referral Form

Download our Sensory Integration referral form (PDF document) by clicking the button below

Childrens Mental Health Week (Lockdown Q&A)

In conjunction with Children’s Mental Health Week, our children & young people clinical lead, and child and adolescent psychotherapist Jennifer Bailey answers questions relating to lockdown problems for children.

The Children’s Services are not a crisis service. If you are worried that a child may be at risk of harm you can contact the NSPCC Helpline. Telephone 0808 800 5000. Email They have professional counsellors for help, advice and support. If the risk is urgent you will need to call the emergency services.  If you have urgent concerns about your child’s mental health, please contact your GP.

How To Access The Service

All therapies are accessed via our Initial Therapies Assessment. 

To refer yourself to our general therapies service, or just to talk to us about whether we can help, please call us on 01904 412551.


Contact Us

Why choose The Retreat?


very satisfied with the service they received


Rated their therapy as very helpful

What is Online/Video Therapy?

Our online therapy service allows us to offer help and support to people not able to access our York-based service face-to-face. Online therapy is a developing area for counselling and psychotherapy, and is also known as webcam counselling, e-therapy, web therapy, internet therapy and distance therapy. This service allows you all the benefits of face-to-face sessions with a therapist, via your personal computer and from the comfort of your home. 

Our skilled counsellors, psychologists and therapists will listen to you in a non-judgmental way in a private, confidential setting. They can help you with your current difficulties, past experiences or anxieties about your future with the aim of helping you improve the quality of your life and relationships.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Any one of us can experience something that we find traumatic. This could be something recent that has happened to us or it could be from our earlier years. Either way, around 30% of people who experience something traumatic go on to develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Traumatic events can vary widely, from road traffic or other accidents, involvement in military combat, near death experiences, or some form of abuse as a child or adult.

PTSD is a name given to a range of symptoms that someone may experience. Often, when we experience a situation that is traumatic, we may at first feel quite numb, but later experience symptoms such as:

  • Nightmares or frightening thoughts
  • Re-living the traumatic event, often termed ‘flashbacks’
  • Avoidance of reminders of the event and of talking about it
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Hyper vigilance and alertness to possible danger
  • Problems with concentration and memory.

These are all symptoms of PTSD and are usually very distressing to us.

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways.

Some people with autism can live relatively independent lives, but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include:

  • Inattentiveness – most people with ADHD will have a short attention span and may be easily distracted.
  • Hyperactivity – there is likely to be some restlessness, fidgeting or overactivity. This can also lead to difficulties in sleeping and increased anxiety.
  • Impulsiveness – people with ADHD may do things without thought for the consequences, without very much reflection and without having a plan.

Some adults will have ADHD without it being diagnosed at a younger age. Those who are diagnosed at a young age are likely to continue to experience problems, though the symptoms might reduce.

What therapies do you offer?

We offer a range of individual and group therapies in line with NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidance. All of our therapists are highly trained, experienced and committed to continued professional development. Many therapists have training in more than one therapy modality, and are therefore in the best position to offer tailored, individualised therapy to meet your needs, drawing from the most up to date, evidence-based interventions.

Our therapies are usually delivered face to face, in relaxing therapy rooms. However if you are unable to come to The Retreat for your appointments, whatever the reason, we may be able to offer you an appointment via video link, using a secure platform called VSEE. 

How do I access the service?

All therapies are accessed via our Initial Therapies Assessment. 

To refer yourself to our general therapies service, or just to talk to us about whether we can help, please call us on 01904 412551.

Is the service confidential?

All our services are confidential, and our therapists and clinicians follow professional codes of conduct which include principles around confidentiality. This means we will not disclose information about you to a third party without your consent, unless we had significant concern for either your safety or the safety of someone else. We would make every attempt to discuss this with you if the situation arose.

Can I get involved in The Retreat?

We welcome representation from people who have finished their therapy or support within our services. There are a number of ways you can get involved, from joining us at information sharing events, helping us raise the profile of our services through the media, or consulting with us to help develop new service or recruit new staff. Please contact us for more information. 

Get in Touch. Talk to us.

If you need to speak to us, we are here to help. Our team of qualified therapists are at your service in person, or via a video call.

Heslington Rd, York, YO10 5BN

Call Us: 01904 412 551