Sensational Circus

Sensational Circus is a unique occupational therapy program developed by our resident OT, Isobel Lyall BSc(OT).

A wealth of evidence shows that engagement in meantingful, purposeful activity promotes the development of all of the aspects of personal capacity, including the physical body in structure and function, cognition, emotional and psychological wellbeing.  This is the core underpinning the art and science of occupational therapy.

Since joining the circus in 1995, Isobel discovered the meaning and purpose that she and others find in circus training.  The huge diversity of different activities encompassed by circus, and the unique social context that circus provides, provides circus programs with an opportunity to engage and enrich the lives of people who love circus, including people who face barriers to participation in physical, social and recreational activity.

This observation is what led Isobel to study occupational therapy in her 30s and through her research and extensive experience teaching circus and working as a therapist with people with disabilities, Isobel has collaborated with CirQuest to deliver this very special program.

What is Sensational Circus?

Children with special needs for learning and development can benefit from an individualised program of activities including circus skills and other strategies to help them to achieve their individual goals.  Circus activities can promote gross motor skill development, but also can provide a context for the development of social, communication, play and cognitive skills that are needed for successful participation in group activities, at school, at home and in the community.

How does it work?

An initial appointment with you and your child is the first step.  At this appointment, you can discuss your child's goals, strengths, challenges and interests with Isobel and start to plan what activities and service delivery model will work best for you.

Assessment:  It's important to undertake some formal assessment before commencing a theraoy program.  This is to obtain a thorough understanding of your child's strengths and challenges for planning activities, setting goals, and so that during and after therapy sessions, we can measure improvement and development.  If you have any assessment reports previously provided by other health professionals, these can be very helpful.  We can work together to determine what assessments are needed for a current, accurate assessment picture before we begin our therapy process.

Goal setting:  To guide activity selection and outline priorities, it's important to establish the goals you would like to work towards before we begin therapy sessions that are developed to help your child achieve these goals.  This also helps us to look back after a period of sessions together to see how well we've achieved those goals and set new ones for the future.

Sensational Circus sessions can be provided in a number of different ways, depending on what works best for your child to achieve their goals:

One-on-one sessions in a closed room are often best for children with complex needs and especially children who have challenges coping with too much sensory input such as noise, or who need to build their social skills before working in small groups with other children.  We can build rapport and trust between the child and the therapist in this setting before moving on to a different way of delivering activities.

Small group sessions such as peer-matched pairs working with Isobel and/or a therapy assistant, increases the opportunities for social and communication skill development.  This can also increase motivation for tasks that are necessary but less fun on your own.

One-on-one sessions parallel to a group class support children who are ready for some group activities and for managing their emotions and learning in a more busy environment, and who also benefit from spending some time working on skills away from the group.

Group class participation supported by a dedicated therapy assistant is similar to the model with is used in mainstream classrooms, with an education assistant to provide additional support as needed.  

Joining our classes without additional support assists children to practice using the skills they have developed independently, and to generalise the strategies and skills they have learned to other settings, such as sport and other community activities, school and at home.


Sensational Circus is a private occupational therapy service. 

You may be eligible for a Medicare rebate under the CDMP (Chronic Disease Management Plan) or the ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder) plan.  To find out, speak to your GP about setting up a plan and referral.

If your child is on the NDIS and has occupational therapy included in their plan, you may be able to allocate some of your funding for this service.  Contact your plan manager or, if you are self-managed, check your plan to find out.

Our fees are:

Initial appointment (30 minutes) $85

Comprehensive assessment (2x 60 minute appointments) and report $700

Individual therapy sessions (60 minutes) $190

Group therapy sessions (60 minutes) $85

Group class participation with dedicated therapy assistant (60 minutes) $60

Would you like to make an appointment?  Click here to book.

Would you like to discuss with Isobel?  Click here to send her and email.