I am Amanda Oosthuizen, a registered Occupational Therapist with a special interest in Health and Wellness, Mental Health, and Sensory Intelligence®.
I arrived on earth on a cold winter’s day in a small rural town in South Africa, being born as the fourth of five daughters in our family. What I can remember from my early childhood days, was the extreme cold I experienced as a child (not that I wasn’t properly clothed or that our home didn’t have a few fireplaces, we even bathed with a gas heater in the bathroom during winter). Temperature is one of the things that caused me a lot of discomfort until I learned about my sensory thresholds and how to self-regulate during the Sensory Intelligence® Practitioners Course.
As a child, I was very clumsy and did not engage in a lot of sports activities. In those days, it was expected that everyone at school participate, whether they were able to or not. I found it extremely humiliating because I struggled with it. My task completion was slow, I had poor attention and lacked concentration. The class environment was quite overwhelming for me on a sensory level. I often felt overloaded and out of control. This had a huge impact on my confidence and self-esteem.
All of these factors contributed to the start of my unhealthy relationship with food: I used food to self-regulate (only learning many years later through Sensory Intelligence® that sipping/sucking was one of the ways in which to regulate your nervous system). Fortunately, I was blessed with intelligence, so I graduated from school and entered university where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy.
My career started off at a hospital for Tuberculosis patients. I enjoyed working in the pediatric ward with children who were long-term patients. My next appointment was at a school for deaf learners. There I worked with children with developmental delays and my journey with sensory integration started. With deaf learners, you have to gesture, demonstrate, and sign your instructions, so by doing this, my balance and coordination improved! I started to feel more comfortable in my body. I always had an interest in mental health and was fortunate to work at a private mental health facility for the next 20 years of my career, doing individual and group therapy.
In 2021 I signed up for the Sensory Intelligence® Practitioners Course with Dr. Annemarie Lombard, founder, and CEO of Sensory Intelligence®. I was interested in sensory integration and how it could be utilized to help improve the physical and mental health of adolescent and adult clients.
A few weeks before the course started, my mother passed away, after a short illness at the age of 91. I was devastated, not knowing how I would manage going to work every day and doing this online course for 6 weeks. Grief puts you in a place where you are not able to function properly on a daily basis, let alone try to learn a new approach!
Thankfully I persevered, completing my own Sensory Matrix™ as part of the course. I was totally fascinated by learning about my own and others’ sensory styles. At last, I realized there was nothing wrong with me – it was just my own unique sensory style, something I had to understand, accept, and learn to manage.
“Sensory Intelligence® is embedded in neuroscience; the results and strategies are based on your unique sensory needs determined by your DNA. Its aim is to guide people towards individualized strategies to cope better with daily home and work environment demands.” – Dr. Annemarie Lombard
I started implementing my recommended sensory snacks and sensory diet, based on my Sensory Matrix™ results, and after a few weeks realized… that I was losing weight! Although I was eating my usual diet (not always very healthy… ), I was still losing weight. Baffled, I wondered what was going on and then realized… by implementing sensory strategies, I was self-regulating, in a more healthy and non-food way. My stress levels dropped significantly. I felt less irritable. I was able to do more things and was more productive. Suddenly I was very aware of the role my environment played in my state of well-being and the impact it had on my senses. I will never look back and am grateful to have discovered my own sensory intelligence®. It has changed my life.
I believe that we can all discover our authentic selves through knowing our own unique sensory thresholds (something which is different for all of us). When thinking of self-regulation, the image of painting on a canvas comes to mind: in my view, self-regulation can be seen as preparing the canvas, ensuring you, the artist, can create your masterpiece which is your life. The quality of your life will be enhanced by learning how to self-regulate throughout each day, especially during difficult situations.
If you are on a journey of self-discovery, health and weight-loss, and would like me to accompany and assist you, send an email to Sensory Intelligence® and they will put us in contact.
If you are a health care provider searching for a revolutionary, effective, neuroscientific way to empower your clients towards improved health and well-being, join the Sensory Intelligence® learning journey by signing up to receive updates about their next Practitioners Course.