Occupational therapy for adults with intellectual disabilities and sensory processing challenges: Exploring practice within acute assessment and treatment units

Helen Justice, David Haines, Jonathan Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
Lack of research means guidance regarding the most effective sensory interventions.
for adults with intellectual disabilities is limited. Preliminary consensus evidence was
created by gathering experienced occupational therapists’ views on practice. The
research sought to establish important elements of practice when using sensory
integration-informed approaches on Assessment and Treatment Units.
Design/Methodology
A modified Delphi process was used to gather, explore and synthesise the views of
13 occupational therapists. Data was collected via online surveys and included
quantitative importance ratings and qualitative comments.
Findings
An experienced panel were in strong agreement regarding many elements of
practice they felt were important for use in this setting and a list of important practice
items was created.
Two themes were identified: “Complexity” and “Pragmatism vs. Ideal World”. The
themes highlight challenges to practice in this area and the complex clinical
reasoning used to overcome these.
Research Limitations/Implications
Participants disagreed about the level of importance of a substantial number of
items, therefore items that did not reach consensus may still be important.
Practical Implications
The study indicates potentially helpful clinical tools, facilities, and training, and
identifies support needed for occupational therapists working in these settings.
Value
This study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding how occupational
therapists do and could work with people with intellectual disabilities and sensory
integration difficulties. Although this study takes a UK and Ireland perspective,
similar agendas regarding care and support for those with intellectual disabilities
internationally mean findings are relevant more widely.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIrish Journal of Occupational Therapy
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021

Bibliographical note

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