Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Project Chairperson

Renee Watling

Second Advisor

George Tomlin


pediatric mental health, sensory-based interventions, Ayres' Sensory Integration (ASI)


There is an increasing prevalence of mental health concerns within the pediatric population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2022). To equip practitioners to address this need, researchers examined the literature to consolidate the evidence for the following question: "For children with mental health conditions, do Ayres' Sensory Integration and/or sensory-based interventions reduce mental health symptoms?". This project was undertaken in collaboration with Dr. Jackie Brown, DrOT, OTR/L, owner of Apple Tree Therapy, a private pediatric occupational therapy (OT) clinic in Kitsap County, WA. In sum, there is a moderate evidence base to support the use of Ayres' Sensory Integration (ASI), ASI-informed, and specific sensory-based interventions for children with anxiety, emotional, behavioral, and self-regulatory challenges, executive functioning challenges, hyperactivity, and tics. We recommend that practitioners and families consider incorporating evidence-based interventions, and that researchers continue investigating this topic to provide greater depth of evidence and to incorporate other pediatric mental health conditions. To translate this knowledge, researchers created an eight minute in-service recording to support practitioners in employing evidence-based approaches in treating children within five main areas of mental health concern: emotional, behavioral, and self-regulation challenges; executive functioning challenges; anxiety; hyperactivity; and tics. The recording was shared with Dr. Brown's team along with a pre-in-service and post-in-service survey. Of the four team therapists, two responded to the pre-in-service survey and three responded to the post-in-service survey. Researchers also created a one-page handout for parents to raise awareness about the evidence-based approaches. Survey results indicated that the in-service recording was well-received by clinicians, who reported that findings were likely to influence future practice decisions. Future student groups can investigate a broader array of OT interventions for a wider variety of diagnoses.

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