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      The impact of sensory activity schedule (SAS) intervention on classroom task performance in students with autism – a pilot randomised controlled trial

      , ,

      Advances in Autism

      Emerald Publishing

      Autism, Schools, Education

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          Sensory processing difficulties can negatively affect children with autism at school. There is limited evidence to guide practice in this area. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of a sensory activity schedule (SAS) used in a school setting on task mastery and occupational performance in the classroom.


          A randomised control trial (RCT) was conducted with 30 children to evaluate the efficacy of a school-based SAS. Children in the intervention group received SAS intervention and usual teaching. Children in the control group received only usual teaching. Outcome measures were the perceive, recall, plan and perform stage one procedural task analysis and goal attainment scaling.


          Children in the intervention group demonstrated statistically significant improvements in school performance when compared with the control group in both outcome measures.

          Research limitations/implications

          This was a pilot study with small sample size, so results should be interpreted with caution. Further research is needed to replicate these findings.

          Practical implications

          A classroom-based SAS may have a positive effect on classroom performance for children with autism. This has implications for professionals who support children with autism and sensory processing difficulties in a school setting.


          To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study was the first of its kind in evaluating SAS intervention in a school setting using RCT methodology.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Sensory perception in autism.

          Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental condition, and little is known about its neurobiology. Much of autism research has focused on the social, communication and cognitive difficulties associated with the condition. However, the recent revision of the diagnostic criteria for autism has brought another key domain of autistic experience into focus: sensory processing. Here, we review the properties of sensory processing in autism and discuss recent computational and neurobiological insights arising from attention to these behaviours. We argue that sensory traits have important implications for the development of animal and computational models of the condition. Finally, we consider how difficulties in sensory processing may relate to the other domains of behaviour that characterize autism.
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            • Abstract: not found
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            Fidelity in Sensory Integration Intervention Research

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              • Article: not found

              Sensory subtypes and associated outcomes in children with autism spectrum disorders.

              Sensory features are prevalent and heterogeneous across children with ASD and these features have been associated with child outcomes. Identification of clinically defined sensory subtypes may enhance our understanding of unique phenotypes that have implications for etiology, prognosis, and intervention. This longitudinal study used a national online survey aimed to identify associations of previously validated sensory subtypes to specific child and family characteristics and functional outcomes [vineland adaptive behavior scale-II (VABS) and parenting stress index short form (PSI)]. The sensory experiences questionnaire-3.0 was collected from caregivers with children with ASD, ages 2-12, at two time points (Time 1, n = 1307, Time 2, n = 884), 1 year apart. Functional outcomes assessments were collected at the second time point. A latent profile transition analysis (LPTA) was used to test associations, and results indicated that the attenuated-preoccupied subtype presented with the significantly lowest levels of VABS adaptive behavior composite scores compared to the other three sensory subtypes. Both the VABS maladaptive behavior index and the total PSI score were significantly highest in the extreme-mixed subtype. These results underscore the clinical utility of this subtyping approach for differentiating characteristics and functional outcomes associated with clinically defined sensory phenotypes. These findings may have implications for better understanding etiology, prognosis, and more precise targets for interventions designed to ameliorate sensory difficulties, and ultimately mitigate negative developmental consequences and parenting stress. Autism Res 2016, 9: 1316-1327. © 2016 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

                Author and article information

                Advances in Autism
                Emerald Publishing
                10 April 2020
                20 July 2020
                : 6
                : 3
                : 179-193
                School of Science and Health, Western Sydney University , Penrith, Australia and the Department of Occupational Therapy, The University of Sydney , Sydney, Australia
                Department of Occupational Therapy, The University of Sydney , Sydney, Australia
                Author notes
                Caroline Jennifer Mills can be contacted at:
                643086 AIA-05-2019-0015.pdf AIA-05-2019-0015
                © Emerald Publishing Limited
                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 4, Equations: 0, References: 42, Pages: 1, Words: 7917
                research-article, Research paper
                cat-HSC, Health & social care
                cat-LID, Learning & intellectual disabilities
                Custom metadata
                Web-ready article package

                Health & Social care

                Autism, Education, Schools


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