Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning (MATL)

Directing Professor

Victor Lamas


The prevalence of sensory processing disorder among children, its negative effect on learning, and the benefits of early identification and intervention require action on the part of early childhood educators. Prompt identification of students with sensory processing issues and implementation of occupational therapy strategies to support these students within the school setting will optimize their learning potential. Using an iterative approach, this qualitative study collected data from semi-structured, respondent interviews with five qualified occupational therapists who practice sensory integration therapy with children who experience sensory processing disorder. The information gained answered the research question, “What assessment tool and therapeutic strategies are recommended by occupational therapists to equip early childhood educators to identify and support students who demonstrate challenges with sensory processing?” The data collected did not identify a specific tool for use by educators to identify students with sensory processing difficulties. The occupational therapists interviewed suggested the use of the standardized assessments the Sensory Profile 2 School Companion, the Sensory Processing Measure-Preschool, and the preschool symptom checklist available from the website of the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing ( The data identified six therapeutic strategies recommended by the study participants to support students with sensory processing disorder in the school setting. From most recommended to least, these included: increased daily opportunities for body movement that stimulates the proprioceptive, vestibular, and tactile sensory systems; increased unstructured, outdoor playground time; decreased overall visual and auditory classroom stimulation; creation and performance of obstacle courses; implementation of activities for crossing the midline of the body; and incorporation of sensory stimulation into play-based learning activities. Additional themes illuminated by the data included: because functioning sensory processing systems are foundational for learning success, identifying and supporting a student with sensory processing disorder in the early childhood school environment has value; the number of children receiving therapeutic support for sensory processing disorder has increased; collaboration is recommended between teachers and occupational therapists to support students with sensory processing disorder and to educate teachers about the disorder; and educators are receptive to incorporating therapeutic strategies recommended by occupational therapists into the school setting to support students with sensory processing disorder.