The Effect of Tactile and Vestibular Sensory Stimulation on Off-Task Behaviors in a Child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder

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The Effect of Tactile and Vestibular Sensory Stimulation on Off-Task Behaviors in a Child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder By: Caroline Dahlstrom and Dr. Gail Richard Sensory Integration Sensory integration
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The Effect of Tactile and Vestibular Sensory Stimulation on Off-Task Behaviors in a Child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder By: Caroline Dahlstrom and Dr. Gail Richard Sensory Integration Sensory integration (SI) is the organization of sensation for use (Ayres, 1995). Sensory input is organized effectively to enable an appropriate, purposeful, or adaptive response to a condition. The ability to form appropriate responses or reactions makes body motions adaptive, makes learning easier, and tends to produce appropriate behavior (Ayres, 1995). SI Dysfunction SI dysfunction is an irregularity or disorder in brain function that makes it difficult to integrate sensory input (Ayres,1995). Symptoms of SI dysfunction include unusually high or low activity levels, coordination problems, delays in speech or language skills, delays in motor skills, poor organization of behaviors, and a poor self-image (Anderson & Emmons, 1996). One disorder area in which SI deficits frequently occur are autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). SI Therapy SI Therapy is a type of occupational therapy, which is often applied using rocking chairs, swings, weighted vests and collars, stress squeeze balls, padded chairs, etc. This therapy uses a holistic approach, involving the whole body, all the senses, and the entire brain, to provide and control sensory input (Ayres, 1995). SI Therapy can regulate arousal levels, decrease stereotypic or self-stimulatory stimulatory behaviors, and promote communication (Yack( Yack, Sutton, & Aquilla,, 1998). Past Research Case-Smith and Bryan (1999) Patterson (1999) Downs (2004) Purpose The present study was designed to examine the effectiveness of different types of sensory stimulation on the behavior of a child with an autistic spectrum disorder. Research Questions 1. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of off- task behavior in a child with ASD when sensory stimulation is provided versus withheld? 2. Is there a difference between tactile and vestibular stimulation on off-task behavior in a child with ASD? 3. Is there a significant difference in the type of off-task behavior, verbal or physical, when sensory stimulation is provided versus withheld? 4. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of off- task behavior when sensory stimulation is provided versus withheld between the first ten minutes of the session and the last ten minutes of the session? Participant The subject in the study was a 6-year, 6 0-month0 month- old male with ASD with delays in pragmatic skills, a mild phonological delay, and ADHD. Intelligence and hearing were within the normal limits, and no other medical diagnoses had been made. He has received speech-language therapy at the Eastern Illinois University Speech-Language Language- Hearing Clinic since October 2002 and is currently receiving speech-language therapy at the university with a student clinician. Participant Downs (2004) found a statistically significant difference in off-task behavior on the client in the current study. Downs independent variables included no sensory stimulation, calming sensory stimulation, and alerting sensory stimulation. A significant difference in behavior given various types of sensory stimulation was expected in the current study. Independent Variables The subject received five minutes of sensory stimulation in the clinic s s sensory room prior to each session. Sensory stimulation included: Tactile sensory stimulation: deep-pressure pressure massage and/or laying in the ball pit Vestibular sensory stimulation: swinging and/or jumping on a trampoline No sensory stimulation: client and clinician go directly to therapy room Dependent Variables Verbal or physical off-task behaviors were recorded during the first and last ten minutes of each of the sessions. Verbal off-task behaviors: any verbalization that interferes with the task focus Physical off-task behaviors: any physical behavior that interferes with the task focus Interval recording using an audiocassette tape with ten second intervals for observing behaviors followed by five seconds for recording was used for data collection. Interjudge reliability was obtained during five sessions. A point-by by-point agreement index indicated 97% agreement. Results Figure 1. Mean Occurrence of Off-Task Behaviors No Stim Tactile Vestibular Occurrence of Total Off-Task Behavior during Therapy Session Day 1. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of off- task behavior in a child with ASD when sensory stimulation is provided versus withheld? No Stim Stim Mean Occurrence of Total Off-Task Behavior 2. Is there a difference between tactile and vestibular stimulation on off-task behavior in a child with ASD? No Stim Tactile Vestibular MeanOccurrence of Total Off-Task Behavior 3. Is there a significant difference in the type of off-task behavior, verbal or physical, when sensory stimulation is provided versus withheld? No Stim Stim Occurrence of Off- Task Behaviors Verbal Off-Task Physical Off-Task 4. Is there a significant difference in the frequency of off- task behavior when sensory stimulation is provided versus withheld between the first ten minutes of the session and the last ten minutes of the session? No Stim Stim 6 Occurrence of Off- Task Behaviors First Ten Minutes Last Ten Minutes Discussion Past research suggests sensory stimulation is beneficial for children with ASD, but no substantiated evidence exists. No statistically significant differences were found for this particular client. Results suggested a clinically significant difference in off-task behavior. Discussion The current study suggests a maturation of the sensory system of the participant as a result of sensory stimulation. Study by Downs (2004) indicated a need for sensory stimulation in this client. Limitations Small sample size Limited data points Structure of the sessions Variability between semesters Subject displayed few self-stimulatory stimulatory behaviors initially Discussion Further research is needed in the area of SI treatment on children with autism and ASD. Studies focusing specifically on the impact of SI on language learning Studies with larger samples and longer experimental time Studies focusing on the age or level of sensory system maturation that need to be reached are also needed Any Questions?
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