Renee Watling, Sarah Hauer; Effectiveness of Ayres Sensory Integration® and Sensory-Based Interventions for People With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(5):6905180030. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.018051
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
This systematic review examines the literature published from January 2006 through April 2013 related to the effectiveness of Ayres Sensory Integration® (ASI) and sensory-based interventions (SBIs) within the scope of occupational therapy for people with autism spectrum disorder to improve performance in daily life activities and occupations. Of the 368 abstracts screened, 23 met the inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Moderate evidence was found to support the use of ASI. The results for sensory-based methods were mixed. Recommendations include performing higher level studies with larger samples, using the Fidelity Measure in studies of ASI, and using carefully operationalized definitions and systematic methods in examination of SBIs.
Terminology is critical when interpreting research, documenting services, and talking about sensory interventions. Occupational therapy practitioners are responsible for being fully informed and using accurate and precise terms when addressing sensory approaches to intervention within the scope of occupational therapy practice.
Initial evaluation of client sensory processing and integration is critical in determining when sensory interventions are warranted and what outcome measures are relevant for an individual client. Practitioners should use one of the published standardized assessments of sensory processing whenever sensory interventions are being considered.
Sensory interventions should be used only when skilled assessment of sensory processing and integration identifies a need for the sensory intervention and when the intervention can be customized in accordance with the assessment findings.
Weighted vests and auditory integration training do not have evidence documenting their effectiveness for outcomes of relevance to occupational therapy; thus, occupational therapy practitioners should use these methods only with careful and consistent monitoring of individual responses and readiness to discontinue the approach if progress toward the targeted outcomes is not demonstrated.
Active participation in multisensory SBIs can have a meaningful effect on client behavior and performance. Practitioners should therefore consider incorporating these methods into daily routines and home programs to support client function when short-term effects are desired.
The emerging evidence demonstrates that ASI has meaningful effects on individual client goals. Occupational therapy practitioners choosing to use this approach when delivering services should use the Fidelity Measure to judge adherence of their services to the fidelity criteria and use individualized outcome measures to best capture responses to the intervention.
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