The Influence of Sensory Integration on Behavior, Cognition and Mood in Autistic Children: A Pilot Study

Saturday, May 14, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
C. Gouws, Biokinetics and Sport Science, University of Zululand, Richardsbay, South Africa
Background: The spectrum of treatment for autism is still poorly understood. Autism is typically characterized by developmental disruptions in social-emotional behaviour and communication. This condition/ disorder can be divided into three different types;  depending on the severity of autism, of which each is treated differently. Sensory integration can be used to improve an autiistic child’s problem areas, and is also applied to maintain the senses.

Objective: The importance of this pilot-study was to determine if  a change in the behaviour, cognition and mood exists/occurs after undertaking/participating ina sensory integration intervention programme. Additionally, the study was designed to determine the time frame for the effects of a sensory integration intervention programme to be observed, as well as which test elicited the highest improvement in sensory integration in autistic children.

Method: Eleven males and one female of all ethnic groups, between the ages of 2 and 7 years, were initially recruited from special needs schools in the Richards Bay area of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Participants were tested using the Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist for the baseline measurments and the Short Sensory Profile Checklist was used for the pre/post-testing .

Results: A powerful, positive correlation was observed between pre-and post-testing for behavior, mood, cognition ( r = .761). Paired t-tests  demonstrated no significant changes in each class between baseline and post-test tactile sensitivity, taste/ smell sensitivity, underesponsive sensations, auditory filtering, low energy/ weak and visual/ auditory sensitivity.  Movement sensitivity demonstrated a significant  increase in the post-test ().

Conclusion:In conclusion, the effects of a sensory integration intervention programme positively influences an autistic child’s movement sensitivity, which assists with mood control, cognition and overall behaviour.