A network to share best practices for children with special needs
There are many interventions and treatment techniques for assisting children diagnosed with autism.
Research indicates that about 90% of children diagnosed with autism also have sensory processing challenges. Therefore sensory processing must be evaluated.
Two of my favorite standardized rating scales are the Sensory Processing Measure – Preschool (SPM-P) for 2 to 5 year olds and the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM) for 5 to 12 year olds. These can be completed by the parents, day care provider, classroom teacher, art, music, and PE, recess, and cafeteria and bus school staff.
The gold standard performance standardized evaluation is the Sensory Integration Praxis Tests (SIPT).
Once identified, two of the most used intervention processes are:
1. Using an ASI® or OT/SI sensory integration approach
2. Using sensory-based strategies.
Though a distinction between the two must be understood, they can also be used together.
The distinction is described in the book titled Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Children and Adolescents with Challenges in Sensory Processing and Sensory Integration (AOTA, 2011).
ASI® or OT/SI involves individualized intervention using sensation in an intentional manner to support a child’s ability to succeed in daily life activities.
A Nov 2013 study in the Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders revealed efficacy of OT/SI in children with Autism.
Below see child on a bolster swing working on postural adjustments in an OT/SI clinic.
Special training is required to provide OT/SI. Core principles of sensory integration intervention as described in the Fidelity Measure (Parham et.al, 2007) include the following:
Therapists, teachers and parents can go to www.siglobalnetwork.com for more information.
You can find many of the specialized equipment at School Specialty-Abilitations.
Sensory-Based Strategies are also known as “occupational therapy using sensory-based interventions.” Sensory-based strategies are often an integral part of early intervention, school-based practice, and community based programs that emphasize collaborative team empowerment. They may be used in conjunction with OT/SI.
Sensory-based strategies can take a multisensory approach or provide specific sensations (proprioceptive, tactile, vestibular, etc.) to help with challenges in sensory integration and processing. These strategies can be used with the individual child, a small group, or an entire classroom.
They may include adapting activities as well as making changes to the environment, all the while monitoring the child’s adaptive response to the intervention’s effectiveness. They may include items for a sensory diet, a term coined by occupational therapist Patricia Wilbarger that means a carefully designed, personalized activity plan that provides the sensory input a person needs to stay focused and organized throughout the day.
A more inclusive term is “sensory buffet”, which refers to the many possible sensorimotor activities that can be offered to the child (similar to the many food choices available at a buffet). A sensory buffet includes many different types of sensory input that can be used in various intensities and combinations (Henry, Kane-Wineland, & Swindeman, 2007).
I have listed a few of my favorite sensory “tools” for use in providing sensory-based strategies on the School Specialty –Abilitations Henry OT page.
Below, see the child at home using the ball with storage legs (chair ball) while doing his homework.
Children with sensory processing challenges often demonstrate variable performance. Therefore, interventions may need to be modified on an ongoing basis. Collaboration among the caregivers, the OT/SI clinic based therapist, the school based therapist and all school staff working with the child is key!