Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2016


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Occupational Therapy


Rangos School of Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Jeryl Benson

Committee Member

Ann Cook

Committee Member

Jaime Muñoz


Occupational Therapy, Sensory-Based Intervention


Problem: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it is estimated that 1 in 68 children have an identified Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). It was found that greater than three quarters of children with ASD also have significant symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD Foundation, n.d.). One commonly used intervention approach for this population stems from the Sensory Integration frame of reference. Ayres “developed the sensory integration theory to explain the relationship between deficits in interpreting sensation from the body and environment and difficulties with academic or motor learning” (Bundy & Murray, 2002, p.3). While occupational therapists are well versed in understanding and applying constructs of this theory to practice, less often are parents and teachers able to understand and apply it in the same way. Increasing parent and teacher awareness and knowledge of occupational therapy using a Sensory Integration frame of reference may help to address this issue.

Aim and Purpose: The purpose and significance of this pilot program was to increase participant’s knowledge and understanding of occupational therapy and sensory-based interventions. A preliminary needs assessment revealed that parents, teachers, and caregivers could benefit from attending information sessions that would give them access to resources and information of how to carry out sensory strategies to facilitate the child’s performance.

Methods: Over a period of eight weeks, four different educational workshops were delivered to participants wanting to learn more about sensory-based intervention and occupational therapy. Investigator-developed pre-post measures were used to determine change in knowledge and understanding.

Sample: Participants included in this pilot program consisted of parents, teachers, and other school staff including therapists and para-professionals. The total amount of participants who attended at least one out of the four workshops was n=20. Implementation and Key Findings: The program entitled “Making Sense of Sensory Processing” was implemented at a licensed school and outpatient therapy facility. The findings from this pilot program suggest that participants who attended these workshops increased their knowledge of occupational therapy and sensory-based interventions.