Evidence based practice (EBP) involves the integration of:
- Clinical expertise,
- Scientific research, and
- Patient/caregiver perspective.
The goal of EBP is the improvement of patient outcomes. It holds us accountable for our treatment plans, strategies and outcomes among our peers and other health care professions. According to the AOTA, generating research in the field of occupational therapy is “critically important for advancing the field and ensuring the viability of the profession.”
Jeanne Zobel-Lachiusa, EdD, OTR/L was the featured December Saturday Seminar Series speaker, who shared her research on Sensory Differences and Mealtime Behavior in Children with Autism (AJOT September/October 2015, Vol. 69, No.5). In summary, the study results helped to identify problem eating behaviors in children with ASD that may be associated with sensory differences. Children with ASD were compared with typically developing age-matched peers. The study concluded that children with ASD who receive occupational therapy that offers sensory strategies might result in less stressful mealtimes. The findings supported the need for further research in this area of self-care with children who have been diagnosed with ASD.
The seminar attendees were from varied backgrounds, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education, social work, psychology, child care, medicine, and parents. They engaged in a lively brainstorming session on sensory strategies in the different sensory domains that might provide mealtimes with less stress for both the child and family. They shared innovative as well as tried and true ideas with the group.
Just a few examples of the many suggestions include ideas for tactile and oral sensitivity:
- systematic desensitization
- exploration of food with tools like Funbites
- using a Nuk Massage Brush paired with singing a song
- Food Chaining, and
- vibration with a vibrating teether or Z-Vibe.
- noise reducing Hush Buddy Ear Muffs,
- rhythmical background sound like drumming or a metronome, and
- soothing music like Mozart for Modulation.
For children with sensitivity to fluorescent lights that flicker and glare in the cafeteria or classroom, Fluorescent Light Filters, which are magnetic were recommended. Another suggestion was for the student to wear a visor to reduce vision sensitivity.
Producing research is essential for validating assessment and treatment strategies. Jeanne shared that her research was motivated by the question of whether interventions are actually effective. Her current research demonstrated that there was a statistically significant difference in sensory differences and in mealtime behaviors between children with ASD and the typically developing group she tested. This groundbreaking research paves the way for further studies to investigate specific treatment strategies discussed today for their effectiveness in helping make mealtimes a pleasurable experience for children diagnosed with ASD and their families.
Following the seminar, attendees provided feedback about the seminar. Please see a few remarks below:
“It provided an opportunity to review recent literature and share strategies with other therapists.” Kristyn S., Occupational Therapist
“Loved the topic and the format. Jeanne was great!! Diane H., Occupational Therapist
“Informative, interactive, insightful. It was interesting listening to other OTs experiences and suggestions.” Sylvia K., OT student
“Helpful to organize sensory treatment with a food tolerance/mealtime behavior perspective.” Anonymous Occupational Therapist
Thank you, Jeanne!
Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L