Date Presented 04/20/2023

This 14-week repeated-measures study showed that sensory garments may improve participation of autistic children, but not parent competence or stress. OT sensory assessment and consultation may help caregivers considering sensory garments.

Primary Author and Speaker: Lisa Mische Lawson

Additional Authors and Speakers: Lauren H. Foster, Kayla Hamner, Lacy Wright

PURPOSE: Autistic children experience sensory challenges that interfere with participation and increase parent stress. Sensory-based interventions are used to address children’s behaviors affected by sensory processing difficulties, but research is limited regarding use of sensory garments to support participation of autistic children. This study examined the effectiveness of sensory garments in increasing occupational participation of autistic children, increasing parental competence, and reducing perceived stress.

DESIGN: Twenty-one children were recruited and 17 males with ASD and atypical sensory processing patterns completed the 14-week pre/post, repeated measures study. Eligibility was confirmed with the Social Responsiveness Scale-2 and Child Sensory Profile 2.

METHOD: The Canadian Occupational Performance (COPM) and Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) were used to set and monitor participation goals. After a baseline period, children wore sensory garment(s) for 8-weeks. The COPM, GAS, Parent Stress Index-Short Form (PSI-SF) and Parent Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC) were administered four times (pre-baseline, before and after the intervention, three-weeks post intervention).

RESULTS: There were moderate to large significant differences in both COPM and GAS scores after the intervention and from the beginning to the end of the study indicating sensory garments may improve participation of autistic children. There were no significant differences in PSI or PSOC at any timepoint. Two children rejected the garments.

CONCLUSIONS: Parent or child selected sensory garments may improve participation in individually meaningful activities for children who can tolerate wearing them. Children’s improvement in participation did not improve parent stress or competence, possibly due to the passive nature of the intervention.

IMPACT STATEMENT: OT sensory assessment and consultation could be valuable for caregivers considering sensory garments for autistic children.


Mische Lawson, L., Foster, L., Hamner, K., & Wright, L. (2022). Exploring Effects of Sensory Garments on Participation of Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Pretest-Posttest Repeated Measure Design. Occupational Therapy International, 2022.

Little, L. M., Ausderau, K., Sideris, J., & Baranek, G. T. (2015). Activity participation and sensory features among children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(9), 2981-2990.

Case-Smith, J., Weaver, L. L., & Fristad, M. A. (2015). A systematic review of sensory processing interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism, 19(2), 133-148.

Mische Lawson, L., Foster, L., Hodges, M., Murphy, M., O’Neal, M., & Peters, L. (2022). Effects of Sensory Garments on Sleep of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Occupational Therapy International, 2022.