Sensory Integration Therapy in Autism: Mechanisms and Effectiveness
A common feature of ASD is over or under sensitivity to the environment and difficulty putting sensory information together in an orderly way, referred to here as sensory issues. Building on previous work, this study will test the efficacy of Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT), a non-invasive intervention to improve functional skills in children with ASD, in comparison to commonly applied ABA behavioral treatments, in the treatment of ASD symptoms. A total of 180 children with ASD and sensory issues in the greater New York City Metropolitan area will complete this study.
- Eligible Ages
- Between 6 Years and 102 Months
- Eligible Genders
- Accepts Healthy Volunteers
- Between the ages of 6.0 and 8.5 at the time of enrollment
- Have a diagnosis of ASD that is confirmed by our research certified licensed psychologist based on clinical impression, DSM-5 criteria, and cut off scores from the Autism Diagnostic Schedule -2 (ADOS) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview - Revised (ADI-R)
- Has a non-verbal cognitive level of 70 or above (IQ cutoff is based on feasibility study data
- Demonstrate difficulty processing and integrating sensory information as measured by the Sensory Profile (SP; 3 or more subscales or total test score in the definite difference range; or the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test -SIPT-; score of -1.0 on 3 or more subtests)
- Guardians willing to attend 3 weekly sessions for the duration of the period and to refrain from initiation of any new behavioral, therapeutic or alternative treatments during the study period
- If on psychotropic medication, they are at a point where dosage and treatment are stabilized for the duration of the study.
- Children who are receiving > 12 hours/week of ongoing ASD-related services(excluding their educational programing), or who are receiving more than one hour per week of services that closely approximate the experimental intervention, will be excluded. Additionally, for safety reasons, children with significant medical co-morbidities (e.g., major heart problems, blindness, deafness, cerebral palsy, Fragile X or Down Syndrome, or tuberous sclerosis) will not be allowed to participate.
- Study Type
- Intervention Model
- Parallel Assignment
- Primary Purpose
- Triple (Participant, Care Provider, Outcomes Assessor)
Sensory Integration Therapy
|Children receive manualized SIT intervention that follows principles of sensory integration. SIT directly addresses the specific sensory factors hypothesized to underlie the child's functional skills difficulties and follows the Data Driven Decision Making Process, to tailor the intervention to the child's specific sensory issues.||
Applied Behavioral Analysis
|This involves examination of environmental variables that influence behavior and altering those variables to improve the child's skills. Intervention is individualized based on identified needs of the child, assessment of environmental variables impacting their performance of specific functional skills, and their abilities.||
|Treatment as usual will occur through the treatment period. As with the other treatment conditions, the participant agrees to refrain from beginning new treatments during participation in this study.||
- Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Study ContactSophie Molholm, Ph.D.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are among the most common neurodevelopmental disorder with estimated costs of treatment across the lifespan of $3.2 million. A common feature of ASD is over or under sensitivity to the environment and difficulty putting sensory information together in an orderly way, referred to here as sensory issues. Such sensory issues are now included in the diagnostic criteria in the DSM5 under the Restrictive and Repetitive Behaviors and Interests Criteria. These sensory issues have a deleterious effect on functional skills and limit participation in work, education, and social activities for individuals with ASD and their family. Building on previous work, this study seeks to extend understanding of Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT) as a non-invasive intervention to improve functional skills in children with ASD and sensory issues, and to test its efficacy in comparison to commonly used applied behavioral treatments. Further, the investigators will explore the proposed neurobiological mechanisms by which this intervention may work, and phenotypic moderators of outcome. This study utilizes a randomized trial to compare SIT to a commonly used behavioral intervention to evaluate outcomes on functional skills as a basis for improved independence over the lifetime. A total of 180 children with ASD and sensory issues in the greater New York City Metropolitan area will complete this study.