The use of sensory integration therapy in Malaysia and Singapore by special education teachers in early intervention settings

H. M. Leong*, Jennifer Stephenson, Mark Carter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background Sensory integration (SI) therapy is an intervention widely used with children with disability despite the lack of evidence regarding its efficacy.Method A questionnaire was distributed to early intervention teachers in Malaysia and Singapore. Information was sought on how early intervention teachers learned about SI therapy, the forms of SI therapy they used, and the benefits they expected.Results Many activities reported as SI therapy were common early intervention activities. Teachers appeared to be particularly interested in SI therapy as an intervention for challenging behaviours related to sensory stimuli but had difficulty explaining how the therapy resulted in the benefits they perceived. Teachers also reported limited monitoring of student outcomes when using SI therapy.Conclusions In light of the very weak evidence for the efficacy of SI therapy, but noting that the intervention continues to be used, it is recommended that good monitoring practices are maintained by teachers. The intervention should be discontinued where clear progress is not evident. Teachers and therapists need additional training in evidence-based practices. Further, alternative intervention strategies should be considered for challenging behaviours related to sensory stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-23
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • controversial therapies
  • desensitisation
  • early intervention
  • evidence-based practice
  • sensory integration therapy

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