Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Effectiveness of Pairing Sensory and Social Skills Instruction to Improve the Social Participation of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Author Affiliations
  • Misericordia University
  • Misericordia University
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Effectiveness of Pairing Sensory and Social Skills Instruction to Improve the Social Participation of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505016.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911505016.

Date Presented 4/16/2015

Pairing social and sensory activities can be a useful intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), resulting in improved generalization in the natural social environment. Improvement in social competence of the individual will encourage peer acceptance and development of positive peer relationships.

SIGNIFICANCE AND INNOVATION: With the rise of the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to 1 in 68 children, the need for effective programming is paramount. Families of children with ASD and advocacy groups are calling on professionals to develop evidence-based programs to ameliorate the manifestations of ASD. Clinicians are seeking information on best practices for improving the social participation of this population. School administrators are seeking cost-effective methods to provide services to students with ASD to fulfill Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and individualized education program (IEP) mandates. Integration of our scholarly, clinical, and educational objectives as a profession is essential if we are to maximize our resources to meet the goals of the Centennial Vision. In this study, we seek to provide specific data regarding recommendations for clinical practice based on research, and we also provide a psychosocial fieldwork experience for students.
APPROACH: Is the pairing of sensory activities and social skills instruction an effective strategy to improve the social participation of children with ASD? ASDs are characterized by atypical development in socialization, communication, and behavior. Symptoms that impinge on functional performance are deficits in sensory processing and social skills. When a child demonstrates decreased ability to interpret and regulate his or her sensory environment, proper social skills acquisition is impaired. This also creates difficulty with learning, the development of leisure interests, and engagement of meaningful roles and relationships. Adapting a social skill intervention group protocol “to meet a child’s sensory needs” may provide better access to learning of the targeted social skills. Therefore, an occupational therapy treatment program of 16 sessions, each 2 hr in length, was designed to promote self-regulation and social skills in a play-based environment on the basis of postulates from the sensory integration and social participation frames of reference to enhance the theoretical basis and the replicability of programming.
METHOD: A quasi-experimental, pretest–posttest design was implemented in a university occupational therapy lab. Participants included 8 children aged 6 to 10 yr with ASD and with sensory processing deficits, as verified by the Sensory Processing Measure and the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale as pretest measures. To evaluate the hypothesis that there will be a significant difference in the social skills of children participating in the study, we will have the participants complete the Social Responsiveness Scale at both pretest and posttest. In addition, the Daily Social Skills Scale, developed by the lead researcher, will be used at daily sessions by occupational therapy fieldwork students and researchers to track incremental changes in participation.
RESULTS: Outcome data will be collected in July 2014. Descriptive, inferential statistical data will be entered into the Statistical Program for Social Sciences system to determine whether there are significant differences in scores from the pretest to the posttest. We will then utilize t tests. Concluding information for this presentation will include statistical results, significance limitations, and suggestions for future research. The application of the study design and recommendations for clinical practice will be incorporated. Suggestions for integrating psychosocial elements of practice into research and fieldwork will be discussed.