An evaluation of sensory processing training on the competence, confidence and practice of teachers working with children with autism

John Cathcart, Aideen Ruttledge

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Introduction: At present there is no research to support teachers’ use of sensory interventions in the classroom. This study aims to investigate the extent to how participation in a sensory processing training session would improve teachers’ competence, confidence, and practice towards supporting children with autism. Method: A pilot study design with mixed qualitative and quantitative methods was used to evaluate the impact of sensory processing training on six teachers who taught at least one child with autism in a mainstream school. The Autism Education Trust (AET) Competency Framework and face to face semi structured interviews were completed with participants both pre (Time 1) and post (Time 2) the training session. Results: Quantitative findings presented statistically significant differences (p < .05) in results with large effect sizes in the areas of confidence, knowledge, implementing sensory strategies, adjusting sensory environments, reviewing and reflecting. Qualitative data provided by participants corroborated this and indicated a need for further and more detailed training in the area. There was no change in the practice of teachers consulting with pupils about their sensory needs. Conclusion: Findings of this pilot study indicate that sensory processing training for teachers does improve competence, confidence, and practice towards supporting children with autism. Review of the session to allow more detail including consulting with the children themselves is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIrish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2019



  • Autism
  • Teacher training
  • Sensory processing

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