A qualitative follow-up study of adults who received sensory integration therapy as children
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INTRODUCTION: Sensory processing is associated with occupational performance in both children and adults; however, no studies have examined adults with confirmed childhood sensory processing challenges. Additionally, no follow-up or longitudinal studies on sensory processing from childhood into adulthood have been found. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this doctoral capstone was to better understand the lived experience of adults who had sensory processing challenges as children. METHODS: Using a phenomenological design, four adults who received sensory integration therapy as children were interviewed regarding their perspective about current and past sensory processing and occupational performance. Retrospective and current data on demographics, sensory processing, and occupational performance were examined alongside interview data. Each data set was analyzed on an individual level, and then the four cases were compared and contrasted. RESULTS: Participants had completed at least some undergraduate education and were employed or seeking employment. Two of the adults report current mental health diagnoses. The participants perceived themselves as currently having mild challenges or no challenges with sensory processing and motor coordination. Participants reported social-emotional difficulties and a lack of awareness of sensory processing. They view structure and routine as supports for their daily occupational performance. CONCLUSION: Four adults who had sensory processing challenges as children reflected on their sensory processing and occupational performance. They attributed their occupational performance challenges to a range of factors, including sensory processing, motor coordination, stress, and anxiety. There is a need for therapists and caregivers to explain sensory processing and sensory integration therapy to children.