Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

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Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Susan Kabot

Committee Member

Kerri Philips

Abstract

This applied dissertation was designed to provide initial knowledge regarding sensory diets and sensory-based interventions. The need for classroom-based sensory interventions are not always considered, especially with the high number of students diagnosed with ASD at the researcher’s school. Often sensory intervention may not be considered educationally relevant, especially in the prekindergarten level. With the proper training and materials, as well as the guidance of the school-based occupational therapist, teachers, other therapists, classroom assistants, parents, and school-based staff might be able to utilize sensory-based activities like sensory diets to increase participation, positive behaviors, and attention. The following applied research study utilized a quantitative single subject ABAB reversal experimental design that was implemented in an ESE blended prekindergarten classroom for three students. Together the researcher and school-based occupational therapist used The Sensory Processing Measure – Preschool (SPM-P) to develop an individualized sensory diet for children with autism and sensory impairments. A sensory diet was administered before and/or during the designated morning circle time by the researcher and classroom assistant. Attention and participation were observed for each participant during the 15-minute morning circle for 8 weeks. Visual data was graphed and then utilized to determine if and to what extent a sensory diet has an effect on attention and participation, as well as the degree the removal of the sensory diet has on both attention and participation behaviors for the individual student during daily morning circle instruction. The results for three participants were not significant enough to show that the use of a sensory diet increases attention or participation. In addition, the results of this study were not significant enough to determine that the removal of a sensory diet will impact attention or participation once introduced. The use of a sensory diet was reviewed as a favorable intervention, yet the scattered improvements of attention or participation for each student could be attributed to variables unrelated to the sensory diet.

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