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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 11 March 2024

Aideen Ruttledge

At present, there is no reference to Attention Autism (AA) as a framework and therapeutic tool with autistic children in occupational therapy (OT) literature. By way of…

Abstract

Purpose

At present, there is no reference to Attention Autism (AA) as a framework and therapeutic tool with autistic children in occupational therapy (OT) literature. By way of introducing AA as a potential intervention to the OT community, this study aims to investigate the extent to which participation in a two-day AA training could contribute to increasing confidence and inspire changes in practice for Irish occupational therapists (OTs) supporting autistic children.

Design/methodology/approach

A pilot study design with mixed qualitative and quantitative methods was used to evaluate the impact of a two-day AA training on six OTs. The OTs support autistic children throughout Ireland across public, private and voluntary sectors. They completed brief, non-standardised questionnaires 2 weeks before the training (Time 1) and again 12 weeks post (Time 2) training session. At Time 2, additional exploratory questions were answered by OTs regarding their use of AA in practice.

Findings

This explorative study’s quantitative findings presented percentage change increases within three areas of confidence for all OTs. These include establishing attention, motivating and developing functional skill goals with autistic children. One of the participants did not score any change in confidence in a fourth area, building rapport, however, the five other participants scored percentage change increases. Qualitative data provided by participants showed that they were implementing AA in practice since attending the training. Five of the participants reported positive experiences of using AA and one participant reported the programme was not suitable for her caseload because of their level of understanding and need.

Research limitations/implications

This was a small, exploratory, practice-based study. As this is the first study exploring this area of practice for OTs, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, there were no standardised methods of assessment available, therefore a self-designed survey was used by the author which had a limited number of open-ended questions and four Likert scale questions. This study was also limited in that there was one main researcher who also delivered the two-day AA training. The sample data set was small which resulted in the limitation of the choice of methods used to analyse the quantitative data. Percentage changes were used as the only available and reliable method for a small data set.

Originality/value

Findings of this study, despite their preliminary nature, indicate that AA training may be a useful professional development consideration for OTs who provide a service for autistic children. Further AA research in OT is required including larger and more rigorous studies. An alternative training option of The Curiosity Programme may be considered for OTs supporting children who may not yet be ready to participate in AA.

Details

Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy, vol. 52 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-8819

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 4 June 2019

Aideen Ruttledge and John Cathcart

At present, there is no research to support teachers’ use of sensory interventions in the classroom. This study aims to investigate the extent to how participation in a sensory…

5433

Abstract

Purpose

At present, there is no research to support teachers’ use of sensory interventions in the classroom. This study aims to investigate the extent to how participation in a sensory processing training session would improve teachers’ competence, confidence and practice towards supporting children with autism.

Design/methodology/approach

A pilot study design with mixed qualitative and quantitative methods was used to evaluate the impact of sensory processing training on six teachers who taught at least one child with autism in a mainstream school. The Autism Education Trust Competency Framework and face-to-face semi-structured interviews were completed with participants both pre (Time 1) and post (Time 2) training session.

Findings

Quantitative findings presented statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) in results with large effect sizes in the areas of confidence, knowledge, implementing sensory strategies, adjusting sensory environments, reviewing and reflecting. Qualitative data provided by participants corroborated this and indicated a need for further and more detailed training in the area. There was no change in the practice of teachers consulting with pupils about their sensory needs.

Practical implications

This study found that the attendance of teachers at sensory processing training is justified and the promotion of sensory processing training is therefore warranted.

Originality/value

Findings of this pilot study indicate that sensory processing training for teachers does improve competence, confidence and practice towards supporting children with autism. Review of the session to allow more detail, including consulting with the children themselves, is recommended.

Details

Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy, vol. 47 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-8819

Keywords

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