Research Article  |   May 2017
Caregivers’ Perspectives on the Sensory Environment and Participation in Daily Activities of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author Affiliations
  • Beth Pfeiffer, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, BCP, is Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; bpfeiffe@temple.edu
  • Wendy Coster, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy, Boston University, Boston, MA
  • Gretchen Snethen, PhD, CTRS, is Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
  • Maggie Derstine, BA, is Research Specialist, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
  • Aimee Piller, PhD, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Piller Development Center, Phoenix, AZ
  • Carole Tucker, PhD, PT, PCS, RCEP, is Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Children and Youth
Research Article   |   May 2017
Caregivers’ Perspectives on the Sensory Environment and Participation in Daily Activities of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May 2017, Vol. 71, 7104220020p1-7104220028p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2017.021360
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May 2017, Vol. 71, 7104220020p1-7104220028p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2017.021360
Abstract

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to obtain caregivers’ perspectives on the impact of the sensory environment on participation in daily activities of their young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Interviews were completed with 34 caregivers of children with ASD ages 3–7 yr. Results strongly suggest that parents and caregivers were pivotal in enabling participation for their children through the implementation of specific strategies and a parental decision-making process. The decision-making process considered amount of effort necessary to support participation and whether participation in a given activity was perceived as essential or nonessential. Strategies enabled participation and reduced the effort required to support the child’s participation. Strategies either directly related to the sensory factors of the environment or focused on reducing behavioral responses associated with sensory factors. In this study, we identified important considerations to enhance participation in the home and community environments for children with ASD.