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Graduate Student Research Projects

Case report on the Efficacy of Sensory Integration for Autism

Joanne Hunt, OTR/L

The case report describes a child with autism spectrum disorder and difficulty in sensory processing. The purpose of the study was to analyze the changes following 10 weeks of occupational therapy using a sensory integrative approach.

Aims of the study were to:

  • Evaluate if deficits in sensory processing and praxis were impacting participant’s ability to engage in social, play, home and community activities
  • Evaluate outcomes of sensory processing for child before and after 10 weeks of occupational therapy

Findings:

  • Improved scores for tactile discrimination, praxis, motor skills, and ability to regulate and organize response to auditory, vestibular, tactile, oral sensory input, and movement
  • Post-intervention parent rating using Goal Attainment Scale indicated better than expected achievement in goals
  • Parent described participant as a “happier child” with less rigid behaviors and increased tolerance to change post-intervention
  • Case report provides preliminary evidence of effectiveness of using sensory integration through occupational therapy for a child with autism

Use of Robotics in Spinal Cord Injury: A Case Report

Lori Sledziewski, MS OTR/L

The one-person case report reviewed the effects of implementing a Robotics intervention with traditional occupational therapy for an individual with an incomplete spinal cord injury.

Aim of the study was to:

  • Evaluate the outcomes of an occupational therapy program for an individual with a spinal cord injury that includes self-care training and the use of robotics.

Findings:

  • Participant displayed improved AROM, improved strength, increased independence in self-care tasks, and higher perceived capabilities of right upper extremity
  • Results display the benefits of utilizing upper-extremity robotics as a tool in conjunction with traditional occupational therapy for the treatment of spinal cord injury

Click here to obtain a copy of this publication.

Sensitivity of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition as an Outcome Measure for Children with Autism

Jennifer Perhac, MS OTR/L

Aim of the study was to:

  • Compare the efficacy of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition (Vineland-II) to the Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) during a 10-week intensive occupational program using sensory integration.

Findings:

  • The use of the Vineland-II with this specific cohort did not yield any significant results indicating that individual measures on the Vineland-II may not be sensitive to measuring change for this short intervention period (10 weeks)
  • Results suggest the use of GAS goals during occupational therapy practice may provide a better measurement of individual change

Effect of an Educational Program Incorporating Principles of Sensory Integration and the Intentional Relationship Model

Michelle Gorenberg, MS, OTR/L

Aim of the study is to:

  • Analyze results of an educational program using the Intentional Relationship Model for improving occupational therapists’ knowledge and skill in therapeutic use of self within occupational therapy using sensory integration
  • Participants significantly improved in their perceived knowledge and skills for Therapeutic Use of Self during occupational therapy using sensory integration

Understanding Participation and Enjoyment of Extracurricular Activities for Children with Autism

Student:

  • Amy Arenstein, EMOT Program 2008

This two-person case study report used purposive sampling to recruit two children on the autism spectrum from a private, pediatric clinic. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among presenting sensory processing difficulties, occupational therapy social skills intervention, and participatory behaviors in extracurricular activities for two children with Asperger’s features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Aims of this study were to:

  • Investigate the feasibility and accuracy of administering the Children’s Assessment of Participation (CAPE) and the Preferences of Activities for Children (PAC) to two children with high-functioning ASD
  • Determine if a relationship exists between each child’s scores on the CAPE and parent and therapist responses
  • Examine factors that parents and therapist identify which help these children to participate in extracurricular activities

Findings:

  • These two children demonstrated fairly accurate results of CAPE when compared to parent report, but required more than minimal parental assistance and modifications for completion
  • An observable relationship exists between each child’s scores on the CAPE and parent and therapist responses for social and physical activities
  • Factors that the parents and therapist identified which help these children to participate include: informal time with family and friends, organized physical and social family activities, chores, social skills occupational therapy, routines, maintaining an optimal state of arousal and facilitation of sensory regulation and modulation, adaptability, and flexible thinking strategies

Sensory Strategies Used by Occupational Therapists in an Inclusive School for Children with Learning Disabilities

Student:

  • Emily Lomax, BS/MS Program 2008

This study was conducted at the Academy of Manayunk (AIM), a private school for children with non-verbal learning disabilities. The purpose was to understand the clinical reasoning processes used by two occupational therapists that work with children with learning disabilities who have sensory concerns.

Aims of this study were to:

  • Understand the clinical reasoning processes used by occupational therapists that work with children with learning disabilities who have sensory concerns.
  • Uncover which specific sensory strategies are utilized by occupational therapists.
  • Provide evidentiary support of the sensory strategies utilized in the available literature.<

Findings:

  • 57 strategies were observed overall (45 sensory, 6 biomechanical, 6 behavioral, and 6 with unknown theoretical rationale).
  • Resources utilized by therapists included recent SI literature book publications and continuing education courses.
  • When interviewed, the occupational therapists provided clear rationale for observed activities.

In the News

Walk Now for Autism
Each year, research assistants raise money and participate in the Walk Now for Autism event in Philadelphia. This event promotes advocacy of autism research, resources and support networks for individuals and families affected by this disability. Go here.


Contact Info:

Last Sensory Integration Laboratory at TJU
Edison Building, Suite 560D
130 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 503-5709

directions to lab

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