Research and Articles

As leaders in the field of Child Development we believe that combining over 20 years of clinical experience with research is critical. Having witnessed so many children achieving excellent results, way beyond what others thought were possible, we were delighted to to have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers Ms.Marie Slevin Psychologist from our National Maternity Hospital in 2017/2018. We successfully completed and wrote up our internationally recognised randomised control study. Its currently being peer-reviewed with the view to publishing in the Irish Medical Journal this year 2019.

Research Title: A Pilot Randomised Control Study showing Feasibility of Therapeutic Listening for Preterm Infants with Sensory Dysregulation, Attention and Cognitive Problems.
Authors: Marie Slevin, Psychologist, Neonatology Dept., the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin
Karen O’Connor, Speech & Language Therapist, the Child Development Centre
Ricardo Segurado, UCD CSTAR, University College Dublin, Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science
Professor John Murphy, Neonatologist, National Maternity Hospital, Dublin.

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Therapeutic Listening for Preterm Children with Sensory Dysregulation, Attention and Cognitive Problems

Karen O’Connor along with Marie Slevin et al. have just published research which looks at Therapeutic Listening for Preterm Children with Sensory Dysregulation Attention and Cognitive Problems.

It concluded that Therapeutic Listening is a feasible intervention for preterm children to improve attention levels and sensory processing skills.

Download the PDF here or read the paper online on the Irish Medical Journal.

A systematic review of sound-based intervention programs to improve participation in education for children with sensory processing and integration challenges

The sensory-rich nature of the everyday school environment can threaten the learning and full educational participation of children with challenges in sensory processing and integration. Children with challenges in sensory processing and integration present with difficulties in “detecting, regulating, interpreting, and responding to sensory input which impairs [one’s] daily routines or roles” (Miller, Anzalone, Lane, Cermak, & Osten, 2007, p.136). Evidence suggests children and adolescents who have challenges in sensory processing and integration have lower participation in educational activities and decreased academic performance (Ashburner, Ziviani, & Rodger, 2008; Bar-Shalita, Vatine, & Parush, 2008; Koenig & Rudney, 2010).

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The effectiveness of auditory stimulation in children with autism spectrum disorders: A case–control study

Sensory processing disturbances within the auditory sensory system are a substantial problem experienced among individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (Greenspan and Weider, 1997; Kern et al, 2006; Tomchek and Dunn, 2007). Occupational therapists frequently use sound-based interventions for children with ASD (Gee et al, 2013); however, the body of evidence supporting the use of The Therepeutic Listening Program (TLP), a sound based intervention, in children diagnosed with ASD and sensory overresponsiveness (SOR) is limited. This study explores the potential outcomes related to the use of TLP with three children diagnosed with ASD and auditory SOR.

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The Effect of Sound-Based Intervention on Children With Sensory Processing Disorders and Visual–Motor Delays

Music has long been known to have therapeutic value (Ferguson & Voll, 2004; Sacks, 2006). In recent years, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and psychologists have adopted the use of music and sound as therapy, and a variety of auditory intervention techniques have become available. Occupational therapists use music as preparation for therapeutic activities on the basis of the belief that sensory input through the auditory and vestibular systems can be calming and organizing to children (Ayres, 1979; Frick & Hacker, 2001). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a therapeutic listening home program in combination with a sensory diet on children with sensory processing disorders (SPDs) and visual–motor delays.

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A Quantitative Summary of The Therepeutic Listening Program (TLP) Efficacy Studies: What Areas Were Found to Improve by TLP Intervention?

A quantitative summary of existing research examining the effects of The Therapeutic Listening Program (TLP) on various functions in children is presented. Nine studies were used, looking at TLP intervention effects across studies, within each study and for various outcome measures. The studies looked at TLP intervention on children with autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, learning disabilities, auditory processing disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, Rhett syndrome, dyspraxia, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, arthritis and stroke.

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Parents’ perspectives of using a therapeutic listening program with their children with sensory processing difficulties: A qualitative study

This phenomenological study explored parents’ perspectives of Therapeutic Listening (TL) implemented as a home program to treat their children with sensory processing difficulties. Ten parents participated in semistructured interviews. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed thematically. Parents were concerned about their child’s anxiety and distress, which they commonly perceived to be reduced with TL. Parents perceived that TL brought a sense of calm to their child, which they linked to improvements in their family life and child’s participation in social and daily activities. Parent engagement (problem solving) enabled successful implementation of the program. Findings are discussed in relation to existing literature.

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The Effects of Auditory Stimulation on Auditory Processing Disorder: A Summary of the Findings by Deborah Ross-Swain Swain Center

Clinic for Speech Language and Learning Disorders and Research. The study’s purpose is to determine the efficacy of the Tomatis Method of auditory stimulation as a therapeutic intervention for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).

Forty-one subjects (18 females. 23 males; 4.3-19.8 years old) were evaluated for APD. Performance on standardized tests indicated weaknesses with auditory processing skills. Each subject participated in a 90-hour Tomatis Method protocol and, once completed, each subject was re-evaluated to measure improvement.

All subjects demonstrated improvement with skills of immediate auditory memory, auditory sequencing. interpretation of directions, auditory discrimination, and auditory cohesion.

Pre- and post-treatment comparison indicated statistically significant differences in the aforementioned skills. These findings suggest that the Tomatis Method of auditory stimulation can be effective as an intervention strategy for APD.

Click here – 17 page article to download as a PDF

Sensory Processing Disorders and Visual–Motor Delays by Leah Hall and Jane Case-Smith.

This study investigated the effects of a sensory diet and therapeutic listening intervention program, directed by an occupational therapist and implemented by parents, on children with sensory processing disorders (SPD) and visual–motor delays.

A convenience sample was used of 10 participants, ages 5 to 11 years, with SPD and visual–motor delays. In the first phase, each participant completed a 4-week sensory diet program, then an 8-week therapeutic-listening and sensory diet program.

The Sensory Profile was completed by the participants’ parents before and after both study phases. The Draw-A-Person test, Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI), and Evaluation Tool of Children’s Handwriting (ETCH) were administered before and after each phase.

Over 12 weeks, the participants exhibited significant improvement on the Sensory Profile, increasing a mean of 71 points. Parents reported improvements in their children’s behaviours related to sensory processing.

Scores on the VMI visual and ETCH legibility scales also improved more during the therapeutic listening phase. Therapeutic listening combined with a sensory diet appears effective in improving behaviours related to sensory processing in children with SPD and visual–motor impairments.

Hall, L., & Case-Smith, J. (2007). The effect of sound-based intervention on children with sensory processing disorders and visual–motor delays. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 209–215.

Click here– 7 page article to download as a PDF

The Rollercoaster Question

Understanding How to Identify Sensory Integration Dysfunction in Children

Extreme Sensory Modulation Behaviors in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Written by Ben-Sasson, Cermack, Orsmond, Tager-Flusberg, Carter, Kadiek, and DunnAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) September/October 2007, 61, 584-592

This study examined the incidence of extreme sensory modulation behaviors in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and investigated the consistency of sensory information across measures.

Parent report of sensory behaviors in 101 toddlers with ASD was compared with 100 toddlers who were typically developing matched on chronological age and 99 additional infants or toddlers matched on mental age.

Measures included the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile, Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment, Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised, and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Generic. Toddlers with ASD were most distinct from typically developing groups in their high frequency of underresponsiveness and avoiding behaviors and their low frequency of seeking.

Within the toddlers with ASD, there were significant associations across sensory parent report measures, but parent report was not correlated with clinical observation. Findings point to the early onset of an extreme sensory profile in ASD. Occupational therapists need to assess multiple domains of sensory
behaviors to accurately identify the needs of toddlers with ASD.

Click here – Nine page article to download as a PDF

Behavioral Indexes of the Efficacy of Sensory Integration Therapy

Roberts, J. E., King-Thomas, L., & Boccia, M. L. (2007). Behavioral indexes of the efficacy of sensory integration therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 555-562.

CONCLUSION. Classical sensory integration therapy may be associated with improved self-regulatory behaviors.

Click here – Eight page article to download as a PDF

Validating the Diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorders Using EEG Technology

Davies, P. L., & Gavin, W. J. (2007). Validating the diagnosis of sensory processing disorders using EEG technology. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 176-189.

CONCLUSION. These results present empirical evidence that children with SPD display unique brain processing mechanisms compared to children who are
typically developing and provide external validity for the diagnosis of SPD.

Click here – Fourteen page article to download as a PDF

Collecting Data for the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM)
Lessons Learned By Diana A. Henry, MS, OTR/L

Administrators in U.S. public school systems are increasingly requiring evidence-based interventions, based on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, as well as the 2004 re-authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Generating and using evidence is also an essential component of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA’s) Centennial Vision. As a pediatric occupational therapy practitioner in the “trenches” in a school or a clinic, you are probably excited about contributing to and participating in research through active data collection.

Although data collection is extremely rewarding, it does have some challenges. In this article I present issues to ponder so you can be successful, and contribute to evidence-based practice (EBP).

Click here – Six page article to download as a PDF.

Not Too Old For Sensory Integration

By Diana A. Henry, MS, OTR/L

In 1972, when Dr. A. Jean Ayres first defined the sensory integration (SI) process as “the ability to organize sensory information for use”, her research focused on identifying specific subtypes or patterns of dysfunction among children. Unfortunately, the emphasis placed on the plasticity of the young brain has been incorrectly interpreted by some to mean that individuals older than age 7 can no longer benefit from sensory integrative intervention. As clinicians, we can now turn to a scholarly and newly published textbook, Sensory Integration. Theory and Practice (1991), and find the following:

Click here– Two page article to download as a PDF.

Sensory Integration: It’s Not Just For Children

“…We believe that the sensory integration framework can be a useful lens for interpreting behaviors and a guide for implementing strategies to enhance occupational performance in clients across the lifespan… This article makes a case that because humans are sensory beings and sensation is inherent in all occupations, the sensory integration framework is relevant to occupational therapy practice beyond pediatric…”Authors: Renee Watling, PhD, OTR/L, Stefanie Bodison, MA, OTR/L, Diana A. Henry, MS, OTR/L, CWT, and Heather Miller-Kuhaneck, MS, OTR/L, BCPPublished: 12/2006 in the AOTA SI SIS Quarterly

Click here – Four page article available to download as a PDF.

1. Mahoney, S. (2004).What was he thinking? Don’t blame hormones. New research shows what really causes your teen’s weird behavior and what to do about it. Prevention Magazine, 56, 3, 159-165 &199.

2. Butler, K. (2006). Drinking may take big toll on teen brains.

3. Pfeiffer, B., Kinnealey,M., M.,Reed, C., & Herzerberg, G. (2005). Sensory modulation and affective disorders in children and adolescents with Asperger’s disorders. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 335-345.

Sensory Processing Disorders: Through The Eyes Of Dysfunction

Have you ever wondered what children or adults with sensory processing disorders feel like, or have to deal with?
I certainly have.Now I would like to give you the opportunity to see SPD “through the eyes of dysfunction”. This can, in turn, lead to acceptance, understanding, and avoidance of blame and judgment. Please open your hearts and minds to the struggles individuals with sensory processing disorders go through on a daily basis.We can see the behavioral signs of distress with too much input, or the energy of not enough input. But, what does the child/adult really go through while trying to take in and effectively process the bombardment of daily sensory input?  Stanley Greenspan, the author of ” The Challenging Child ” (1995) has an insightful analogy to help us understand what people experience when they can not effectively process, or interpret, sensory input. He describes it this way:

“Imagine driving a car that isn’t working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn’t respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else.”

It’s no wonder children with sensory processing disorders feel out of control, exhibit a whole host of behaviors, and have difficulty concentrating and focusing at school! Now, also imagine being a parent of one of these children. Many parents have expressed how exhausted, rejected, lost, incompetent and alone they feel in trying to live with, and understand, their child.

I challenge you to remember this beautifully painful quote the next time you encounter a child with sensory processing disorders and begin the process of awareness, understanding, and treatment to help them take control of their bodies, minds and self-esteem. It is so very difficult for them. Let’s acknowledge that and do our best to understand and help them!

Let me put this another way for you, from an adult perspective. I once did a presentation in a conference room full of adults that worked in day care and preschool settings. I wanted them to relate to and understand the children they saw in their classrooms that struggled with sensory processing disorders. I explained it to them this way.