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BUSS – Building Underdeveloped Sensorimotor Systems

BUSS: Building Underdeveloped Sensorimotor Systems in children who have experienced developmental trauma

Developed by Sarah Lloyd, Specialist Occupational Therapist and Play Therapist

The BUSS Model has been developed by Sarah Lloyd, a nationally recognised leader who has developed a new paradigm for understanding and working with children with developmental trauma.

The Building Underdeveloped Sensorimotor Systems (BUSS) Model brings together a neurodevelopmental understanding of the impact of trauma on the developing brain, sensory integration theory and an understanding of attachment and child development.

The brain and central nervous system of a newborn baby is still at an early stage of development, and babies need an attuned adult and lots of nurture and movement experiences to allow them to grow into their bodies on a physical and an emotional level. When babies and young children are in neglectful and/or abusive environments they miss out on both aspects of this – the loving, attuned adult and the chance to grow into their bodies. This is significant because good bodily regulation and sensory integration gives the developing child a solid platform to negotiate the many developmental tasks of childhood: making relationships, play, understanding and managing their feelings, and learning.

A lot of work with children who have experienced abuse and neglect focuses on relational and psychological therapies. These can be complemented by an intervention like BUSS, which brings together an understanding of the impact of trauma on the child, the importance of loving relationships, and an inherent need to move, in order to develop good bodily regulation. The focus of the model is to support families in using games and activities that will allow them to rebuild underdeveloped parts of a child’s foundation systems.

Therapy: BUSS Intervention

BUSS Over the last three years, the BUSS team has worked with several hundred families to understand the impact that their child’s early experiences have had on their bodily regulation, and to help them rebuild those systems.

At Oakdale, we strive to make BUSS accessible for families, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances. BUSS can be delivered face-to-face at our centres located in Harrogate (North Yorkshire) or Halifax (West Yorkshire), or remotely for families who live further away or would prefer not to travel. Some families opt for a combination of both. 

The purpose of the intervention is to improve a child’s sensory integration, develop good bodily regulation and build parent / child relationships, thereby providing a solid platform for the development of emotional regulation, relationships, and learning.

Involving the team around the child works well for nursery and school-age children because, while the key agents of change are parents and carers, it can be helpful for schools or nurseries to be involved and support the work where they can.


Sarah and her team have done introductory training for several thousand people, ranging from local authorities in different parts of the country, to independent adoption and fostering agencies, a CAMHS secure setting, and education.

Our Team

BUSS TeamThe Oakdale BUSS team is a multidisciplinary team. The wealth of experience that we have within this team, from Child Psychology and Child Psychotherapy to Specialist Social Workers and Occupational Therapists, brings a richness that is of great benefit to families. We’re also working with education professionals, as well as an Early Years Specialist, to add an understanding of BUSS to the way they’re thinking about and working with children in schools.

Please find the link below to the BUSS website to find out more about the BUSS model, its application to help children and young people, training in BUSS for individuals and organisations, as well as providing BUSS in education.

Feedback from parents who have been through the BUSS Model:

The impact so far on our daughter is remarkable. Our main concerns were around the way she manages her emotions, mainly at school and when playing with other children. She can feel very angry very quickly at seemingly small things. She also struggles to sit still and can’t cope with unpredictability.  These were impacting on her friendships and her learning.”

“We were struggling to understand how this physical work could help her emotionally, but the improvement so far has been remarkable. We have noticed that her reactions to unexpected situations are much more measured, school has fed back that she is calmer when she is there and that they can reason with her much more easily, she seems to be able to stay in the moment a little longer and generally seems less angry and frustrated all round. We will be continuing with great gusto and hoping that the improvements will continue!”


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