The facilitators and barriers encountered by South African parents regarding Sensory Integration occupational therapy

Jacintha Smit, Jo-Celene De Jongh, Ray Anne Cook


South African Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2018; 48 (3):44-51

Introduction: Differences in parent perceptions regarding occupational therapy using a sensory integration approach to treatment have been noted. The various factors that may influence these perceptions, and how the perceptions may ultimately influence the outcome of the intervention for the child and family were questioned. A phenomenological study revealed a progression that all parents perceived and experienced as the “before”, “input” and “after” phases of when their child received occupational therapy/sensory integration (OT/SI). This article focuses specifically on the “input” phase of OT/SI intervention.

Method: Participants in this study were nine parents of children with difficulties processing and integrating sensory information, who live in the Western Cape, South Africa. Using a qualitative, phenomenological approach, data were collected during face-to-face interviews, participant observation and researcher’s field notes. 

Findings: The main theme related to this phase of analysis was “Just suddenly everything made so much sense”. For most participants, this phase brought to light a better understanding of sensory integration disorder (SID), also known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and OT/SI. Data analysis identified two subthemes that catalysed expansion in most participants’ understanding, which were the role of the occupational therapist, and the OT/SI intervention process. Within these subthemes, the facilitating factors and barriers of OT/SI intervention emerged.

Conclusion: Insight gained from the participants’ recommendations and interpretation of findings allowed recommendations to be made within the OT/SI intervention received, in an attempt to overcome the barriers and promote the facilitators that will make a difference to OT/SI in South Africa. 

Key words:

Sensory integration; sensory integration disorder (SID); sensory processing disorder (SPD); parent(s) perceptions; facilitators; barriers.


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