Sensory-Based Interventions in the General Education Classroom: A Critical Appraisal of the Topic
Journal of Occupational Therapy Schools & Early Intervention 04/2010; Schools(1):76-94. DOI: 10.1080/19411241003684217
All children process environmental sensory input in different ways, and children's individual sensory processing patterns and needs may impact their performance in the classroom. In certain instances, children's sensory needs may have a negative impact that interferes with their academic performance, their ability to stay alert and pay attention in the classroom, and their overall daily functioning. However, this problem may be addressed by the use of sensory-based activities. As current best-practice principles recommended by occupational therapy associations and professionals include the provision of therapy services in natural environments, and the most natural environment for students is the general education classroom, it may be beneficial for school-based occupational therapists to develop a program for use by general education teachers to improve attention and academic performance in their students. Thus, this critical appraisal of the topic sought to answer the following question: For preschool through elementary school-aged children both with and without developmental diagnoses, do sensory-based intervention strategies implemented in the general education classroom setting result in improved attention and/or academic performance? After reviewing 13 articles (12 level I, II, IV, and V quantitative articles and one qualitative article), it appears that sensory-based interventions implemented in the general education classroom may indeed improve student attention and performance.
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ABSTRACT: This article is an account of how a research proposal is conceptualized and designed to investigate whether the addition of an integrated “sensory diet curriculum” at regular transition intervals throughout the school day would increase students' ability to profit from their educational experience for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. This procedural account identifies several important research benchmarks and serves as an example of how to make our “thinking” visible for others. The entire project was developed over a 2-year period, in part to provide a group of occupational therapy pre-professional students with a hands-on research experience. The students completed a small pilot study that contributed to the formation of a values-based decision tree model that respects full inclusion, team collaboration, parent participation, mentor-mentee relationships, and evidence-based practice.
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