Occupational Therapy Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy

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College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


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

Sensory processing disorder (SPD) has been shown to affect behavior in children. Children spend much of their time in school, where participation and appropriate behavior are expected. Sensory processing challenges may affect a child's ability to participate in school. However, the prevalence of SPD among nondisabled children, and its impact on participation remains poorly understood and understudied. This study sought to determine the prevalence of SPD and its potential impact upon school participation in children enrolled in kindergarten and first grade. Using a descriptive cross-sectional research design, parents of 123 typically developing children from five public and one private elementary school completed questionnaires to measure sensory processing behaviors. A conservative estimate of the prevalence of SPD was calculated at 8.3% within the sample studied, based upon parent report. The second phase of the study examined relationships and differences between children with and without SPD on various measures of participation in school as observed by teachers. Although no statistically significant differences were found between the children on measures of participation, there was very little agreement between parent and teacher perceptions on the presence of SPD for individual children. Further, statistically significant correlations were found between Short Sensory Profile scores and some measures of participation. These results suggest that perceptions of the presence of SPD may be related to the context in which the student is being observed. Results from this study were limited by the small sample size and low response rate.


Occupational Therapy

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