Occupational Therapy Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy

Copyright Statement

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.


College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

First Advisor

Ricardo Carrasco

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


"Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Occupational Therapy Department, College of Health Care Sciences, Nova Southeastern University."

Attachment and sensory modulation are two processes that co-occur in early development and that have an impact on the future development of the child. Attachment difficulties occur when the child cannot, for whatever reason, use the primary caregiver as a secure base from which to experience the world. Sensory modulation disorder (SMD) is characterized by maladaptive responses to sensory input. Although the literature and current research in the separate areas of attachment and sensory modulation have some parallels with regard to behavioral sequelae, relation to stress, and impact on participation, the relation of the two processes has not been the focus of published research. This research examined the relation between attachment and sensory modulation in 68 children ages 3 to 6. Two assessments were administered during the course of a home visit with each participant and primary caregiver: the Attachment Q-Set (3rd edition; AQS) and the Short Sensory Profile (SSP). There were significant correlations between the AQS security criterion (AQS-S) and the SSP as well as the AQS dependency criterion (AQS-D) and the SSP providing evidence for a relation between attachment and sensory modulation. Significance was found in simple linear regression with the SSP total score and SSP section scores for tactile sensitivity and visual/auditory sensitivity predicting AQS-D scores. Multiple regression calculations were significant for AQS-S and AQS-D predicting SSP as well as SSP section scores predicting AQS-D. These findings support the view of a dynamic model of interaction between attachment and sensory modulation development as well as among the child, the caregiver, the child-caregiver dyad, and the environment.


Occupational Therapy


Psychology, Health and environmental sciences, Attachment, Caregivers, Sensory modulation, Sensory modulation disorder, Young children

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