Exploring Effects of Sensory Garments on Participation of Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Pretest-Posttest Repeated Measure Design

Occup Ther Int. 2022 Jun 6;2022:3540271. doi: 10.1155/2022/3540271. eCollection 2022.


Objective: Autistic children experience sensory challenges that interfere with participation and increase parent stress. Sensory-based interventions are used to address children's behaviors affected by sensory processing difficulties, but research is limited regarding use of sensory garments to support participation of autistic children. This study explored sensory garment effects on participation, parental competence, and perceived stress of autistic children and their parents.

Method: Twenty-one children were recruited and 17 males with ASD and atypical sensory processing patterns completed the 14-week study. The Canadian Occupational Performance (COPM) and Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) were used to set and monitor participation goals. After a baseline period, children wore sensory garment(s) for 8 weeks. The COPM, GAS, Parent Stress Index-Short Form (PSI-SF), and Parent Sense of Competence Scale (PSOC) were administered four times (prebaseline, before and after the intervention, and three weeks postintervention).

Results: There were moderate to large significant differences in both COPM and GAS scores after the intervention and from the beginning to the end of the study indicating sensory garments may improve participation of autistic children. There were no significant differences in PSI or PSOC at any timepoint. Two children rejected the garments.

Conclusions: Parent- or child-selected sensory garments may improve participation in individually meaningful activities for children who can tolerate wearing them. Children's improvement in participation did not improve parent stress or competence, possibly due to the passive nature of the intervention. More research is needed explore the influence of heterogeneous sensory patterns on response to intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive*
  • Clothing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Parents