Date Presented 04/02/2022
Children experiencing challenges with sensory processing and integration often receive OT services to improve functional performance. However, information about the long-term effectiveness of OT intervention for children with sensory challenges is limited. The purpose of this study was to explore whether children were able to maintain improvements after OT services ended and to understand parent perspectives of OT using a sensory integration approach.
Primary Author and Speaker: Victoria Ann McQuiddy
Additional Authors and Speakers: Marissa Hosp, Sabella Smith, Madison Vines, Hannah Osterfeld
Contributing Authors: Angela Bates, Shannon Teeters, Sara Ruth Strain-Riggs, Aurora Hoobler, Anna R. Ramstetter
STUDY PURPOSE: Existing literature discusses the effectiveness of sensory integration intervention for children with challenges in sensory processing and integration; however, many studies do not follow up with participants to determine whether change is sustained over time. Additionally, there is limited information published about parent perspectives of occupational therapy sensory integration (OT-SI). The purpose of this study was to explore parent perspectives of OT-SI programs and the child’s ability to maintain improvements following OT-SI interventions.
METHOD: The study utilized a mixed-methods design. The participants in this study included parents/caregivers of children that participated in an OT-SI program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) from July 2019 through January 2020. Data was collected via phone interview. Parents/caregivers of children who participated in the OT-SI program assigned current scores to goals that were identified on the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) and the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS) prior to OT intervention. Scores from the COPM and GAS were analyzed from three time points: before the sensory intensive OT intervention, immediately following the sensory intensive OT intervention, and 6-12 months after completing the sensory intensive OT intervention. Additionally, qualitative data regarding parent perception of the sensory intensive OT program was collected via open-ended questions during phone interviews.
RESULTS: Interviews were completed by 16 parents/caregivers of children with sensory challenges who participated in the OT-SI program at CCHMC. When comparing COPM performance scores before and immediately following intervention, a statistically significant difference (p = 0.000) was found. There was also a statistically significant difference (p = 0.000) noted between before intervention and 6-12 month follow-up performance scores. However, when comparing scores immediately following the sensory intensive intervention and 6-12 month follow-up performance scores, no statistically significant difference was found (p = 0.500). This pattern of significance occurred across all scores analyzed. Five themes emerged from the qualitative data: (a) parent/caregiver perception of child’s progression and current performance in goal areas, (b) value of occupational therapist’s knowledge, skills, and ability to form therapeutic relationships, (c) value of parent/caregiver education during sensory intensive program, (d) accessibility of the sensory intensive program, and (e) benefits of intensive service delivery model and additional program feedback.
CONCLUSION: The results from this study showed that children who completed the OT-SI program at CCHMC maintained improvements 6-12 months after the intervention. Themes from parent/caregiver interviews identified strengths and perceived benefits of OT-SI programs as well as potential areas for improvement for OT-SI programs.
IMPACT STATEMENT: The findings from this study are important for the profession of occupational therapy. Findings from this study show that children made statistically significant changes in identified goal areas immediately following OT-SI intervention. While these changes were able to be maintained for 6-12 months following the end of the OT-SI intervention, participants did not continue to demonstrate statistically significant changes. This highlights the unique value of skilled OT services to improve function and participation in daily activities for children with challenges in sensory processing and integration.
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