American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

View all recommendations from this society

June 4, 2018

Don’t provide sensory-based interventions to individual children or youth without documented assessment results of difficulties processing or integrating sensory information.

Many children and youth are affected by challenges in processing and integrating sensations that negatively affect their ability to participate in meaningful and valued occupations. Processing and integrating sensations are complex and result in individualized patterns of dysfunction that must be addressed in personalized ways. Interventions that do not target the documented patterns of dysfunction can produce ineffective or negative results. Therefore, it is imperative to assess and document specific sensory difficulties before providing sensory-based interventions such as Ayres Sensory Integration®, weighted vests, listening programs, or sensory diets.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their health care provider.

How The List Was Created

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) conducted a three-phase project to develop the final Choosing Wisely recommendations of services that occupational therapy practitioners should not provide. The phases of the project included Phase I—building member awareness and support, Phase II—soliciting member input, and Phase III—dissemination of the final items. Phase I was accomplished through presentations to AOTA member and volunteer groups, a Town Hall session at AOTA Annual Conference, an online webinar and related materials, and coverage in AOTA publications. Phase I was completed with an online member survey that resulted in 328 responses. Following the elimination of duplicate responses and items outside the scope of occupational therapy practice, the list was narrowed down to 62 items. Additional input was received from AOTA Special Interest Section volunteer leaders to rank the items based on established criteria. An extensive literature search was conducted on the highest ranked strategies. Phase II involved an online member survey presenting 12 items for evaluation with a goal of picking the top 5. This survey resulted in 4,860 responses that were analyzed, resulting in the final 5 items. These items were reviewed by the AOTA Board of Directors. Phase III included the development of a communication and dissemination plan.

AOTA’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at www.aota.org.

Sources

Bodison, S. C., & Parham, L. D. (2018). Specific sensory techniques and sensory environmental modifications for children and youth with sensory integration difficulties: A systematic review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 7201190040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.029413

Council for Exceptional Children. (2014). Council for Exceptional Children standards for evidence-based practices in special education. Retrieved from http://www.cec.sped.org/~/media/Files/Standards/Evidence%20based%20Practices%20and%20Practice/EBP%20FINAL.pdf

Council for Exceptional Children. (2015). CEC’s standards for classifying the evidence base of practices in special education. Remedial and Special Education, 36, 220–234.

Pfeiffer, B., May-Benson, T. A., & Bodison, S. C. (2018). Guest Editorial—State of the science of sensory integration research with children and youth. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 7201170010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.721003

Schaaf, R. C., Dumont, R. L., Arbesman, M., & May-Benson, T. A. (2018). Efficacy of occupational therapy using Ayres Sensory Integration®: A systematic review. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 7201190010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.028431

Schaaf, R., & Mailloux, Z. (2015). Clinician’s guide for implementing Ayres Sensory Integration®: Promoting participation for children with autism. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.

Watling, R., Kuhanek, H., Parham, D., & Schaaf, R. (2018). Occupational therapy practice guidelines for children and youth with challenges in sensory processing and sensory integration. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.