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Dr. A. Jean Ayres; Led in Treating Neurological Disorder

Dr. A. Jean Ayres, a researcher who discovered and developed tests and treatments for identifying sensory integration dysfunction, a neurological disorder of the senses, has died of complications of cancer. Ayres, who died Dec. 16, was 68.

Born in 1920 on a Visalia farm, Ayres struggled with learning problems similar to those caused by the disease she would later discover.

After obtaining a master’s degree in occupational therapy and a doctorate in educational psychology, Ayres began work at the UCLA Brain Research Institute that led to her discovery of sensory integration dysfunction.

Patients who suffer from the disorder complain that simple daily tasks, such as combing hair and brushing teeth, produce painful sensations. Ayres concluded that the affliction, which can also result in learning and behavioral problems, is caused by an inefficient organization of sensory information received by the nervous system. The main treatment is a form of occupational therapy.

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In 1959, Ayres joined the USC faculty, working in both the Special Education and Occupational Therapy departments. After retiring in 1985, Ayres was made an emeritus professor.

Ayres was the recipient of major awards from the American Occupational Therapy Assn. and was named to the 1971 edition of the Outstanding Educators of America.

Ayres, who lived in Torrance, is survived by her husband, Franklin Baker. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, gifts be made to the Ayres Clinic Research, Education and Practice Fund.

A memorial service, sponsored by the Ayres Clinic and the USC Department of Occupational Therapy, will be held at 9:30 a.m Feb. 24 at the United University Church, 817 W. 34th St., Los Angeles.

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