New Research for Sensory Processing Disorders
A new addition to the 2016 Annual AOTA Conference and Expo is the
inclusion of scientific panels. In these sessions, research papers are
presented on the multiple areas of expertise that OTs cover. Sarah Schoen, associate director of Research the STAR Institute, was one of many researchers who presented at
this year’s conference.
Schoen studies sensory processing challenges in children and
adolescents. The STAR Institute, which was created through a merger between the
Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation and the STAR Center, is dedicated to
looking at the symptomology in children who don’t necessarily
qualify for other clinical disorders.
“Listening programs have been a part of clinical practice for
may years and unfortunately there hasn’t been a lot of research as to its
effectiveness,” Schoen said concerning her inspiration
for the study. “We are very much an evidence-based
program, so we felt that if we used the various interventions that we use as a
part of our model of treatment, then we needed to study the effectiveness.
The pilot study focused on the use of a particular listening
program (Integrated Listening Systems or iLs) without any other services. Seven
children were included in the study and spent five hours a week using the
program, one with a research assistant and four with parental guidance. She
used a single-subject design as a research model as opposed to randomized
controlled trials. The results reflected the effectiveness of iLs.
“People have a misconception that the only valid research is
randomized controlled trials,” she said. “We are training
therapists to use this single subject design to use in their clinical work. I’m
hoping that others will see this methodology and say ‘I want to validate
what they found using iLs.’ This will only strengthen the findings
that we had.”
Schoen believes that the more information and evidence collected
on the use of iLs, the better.
“Even from the audience’s reaction, there
is some sense of relief when there is evidence in a tool that people are
regularly using in their clinical work. Hopefully it will inspire more people
to do similar types of studies.”