Sensory disorders in children; Children with disabilities--Care; Communication--Social aspects--United States; Children with disabilities--Services for--United States


Objective: The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine what types of sensory-based interventions, other than Ayres Sensory Integration®, pediatric occupational therapists are using, how frequently they are being used, and the clinical rationale for choosing these interventions for children with a sensory processing dysfunction.

Method: A survey was sent to 250 primary members of the American Occupational Therapy Association Sensory Integration Special Interest Section (SISIS). The survey was piloted by the SISIS committee members and their feedback was used in guiding the survey contents.

Results: Out of 250 surveys sent, 87 surveys were returned for a response rate of 35.2%. The findings revealed the primary reason for using sensory-based interventions is to provide a comprehensive treatment approach. The most frequently used sensory-based interventions in practice were The Alert Program for Self-Regulation and the Wilbarger Protocol. Duration of use was stated to be dependent on the “unique needs of the child.” For clinical rationale, the primary sensory systems addressed in the sensory-based intervention chosen corresponded to the intent of that chosen sensory-based intervention. The three most frequently reported anticipated outcomes for each sensory-based intervention related to the role of the primary sensation being addressed in therapy.

Conclusion: Therapists need to be vigilant in choosing and explicit in articulating the sensorybased interventions they practice. Using evidence, staying true to an intervention, and receiving continuing education is key to clinical reasoning. Sound clinical reasoning is important in validating treatment approaches to others important to the child’s care.

First Advisor

Marge Luthman, MS, OT/L

Second Advisor

Yvonne Swinth, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Date of Completion

Spring 2013

Degree Type







Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT)

Date of Award



Occupational Therapy


University of Puget Sound