Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #155
CE Offered: BACB
Investigating Ancillary Treatments for Children with Autism: An Analysis of Sensory Integration Treatments and Oral-Motor Exercises
Sunday, May 24, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 125
Area: AUT/EDC; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Cecilia McCarton (The McCarton Center)
Discussant: Erik A. Mayville (Connecticut Center for Child Development)
CE Instructor: H. Keith Massel, Ph.D.
Abstract: Many children with autism receive a variety of interventions in addition to ABA intervention. Sensory integration therapy and oral motor exercises are two very commonly used approaches. This symposium will address the evidence basis for these interventions, and will present data from systematic analyses of the impact of these approaches. The first paper is a review of the existing literature on sensory integration and oral motor exercises as interventions for children with autism. The second paper presents data from several students on the use of sensory integration to reduce self-stimulatory behaviors. Single case studies examined the use of a sensory diet and swinging in reducing muscle tensing and the use of non-contingent visual stimulation in reducing aberrant eye movements. These therapies were ineffective in reducing these behaviors. The third paper addresses the use of a systematic oral motor exercise protocol to produce short and long-term changes in dexterity, sound production, and other outcomes of such instruction. The results will be interpreted in the context of using ABA to systematically evaluate the impact of ancillary treatments for individual learners, as well as the need to share negative results with the broader professional community.
A Review of the Research Regarding the Efficacy of Sensory Integration Training and Oral Motor Exercises with Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders
THOMAS L. ZANE (The Center for Applied Behavior Analysis at The Sa), Mary Jane Weiss (Rutgers University)
Abstract: Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often exhibit stereotypic behaviors such as rocking, spinning, hand flapping, and excessive movements at a frequency higher than children who are not diagnosed. Sensory Integration Therapy (SIT), is, according to Jean Ayres, “…a clinical frame of reference for the assessment and treatment of persons who have functional disorders in sensory processing." Generally speaking, the theory is that human behavior is contingent on brain function; errors in brain functioning result in dysfunctional behavior or pediatric developmental problems including sensory dysfunction. Consequences of this dysfunction include problems in sensory discrimination, perception, proprioception, tactile discrimination, visual perception, and vestibular processing. SIT is frequently used with children with autism to reduce these behaviors. Similarly, (non-vocal) oral motor exercises are often done to build sound and speech production. However, a review of the published research on the effectiveness of SIT and oral motor exercises indicates a clear lack of experimental research supporting the effectiveness of such procedures. The research that has been published has been flawed due to research design and methodological confounds. The proposed presentation will review the published literature on SIT and oral motor exercises and critique it against the criteria for quality evidence of effectiveness.
Investigating the Effects of Sensory Integration Therapy in Decreasing Self-Stimulatory Behavior
CAROLYN SNIEZYK (Crossroad Center), Teri VanEpps (Crossroad Center)
Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effectiveness of various sensory integration therapies in reducing self-stimulatory behaviors. Single case studies examined the use of a sensory diet in reducing muscle tensing, the use of swinging in reducing muscle tensing, and the use of non-contingent presentation of visual stimulation in reducing inappropriate eye movement. A licensed Occupational Therapist was responsible for creating procedures designed to reduce target behaviors. The participants were between the ages of three years and six years. Procedural reliability and inter-rater reliability measures met acceptable criteria. The sensory integration therapies were ineffective in reducing the targeted self-stimulatory behaviors.
Evaluating the Impact of Oral Motor Intervention for Children with Autism: An Analysis of Short-Term and Long-Term Outcomes
LAURA PRESTIA (The McCarton School), Mary Jane Weiss (Rutgers University), Ivy J. Feldman (McCarton School), Jacquelin A. Hickey (The McCarton School), Cecilia McCarton (The McCarton Center)
Abstract: Oral motor interventions have been used with children with autism for addressing deficits in sound and speech production. The data have been poor regarding the impact of such approaches, yet they remain commonly practiced in programs for children with autism. Often, the manner in which such intervention is done is not systematic, and the guidelines for how to best implement such approaches are unclear. This paper presents a very systematic and methodical approach to the implementation of an oral motor exercise protocol, and identifies short and long-term outcomes presumably associated with progress in oral motor skills. The effects of this protocol on building endurance for the exercises and on sound and speech production will be presented across several learners



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