Date of Award

Summer 6-8-2021

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

Department

Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Pamela Kasyan-Howe, OTD, OTR/L, Doctoral Coordinator

Second Advisor

Kristin Domville, OTD, OTR/L, Doctoral Coordinator

Third Advisor

Jose R. Rafols, OTD, MHSA, OTR/L, BCTS, CEAS, Program Director

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Caregivers, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sleep Disturbances

Abstract

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face sleep disturbances. Healthy sleep habits are essential for children with ASD and their caregivers to properly engage in their everyday lives. Occupational therapists are trained to evaluate clients in areas that contribute to sleep dysfunction and to focus on promoting optimal sleep performance. There is limited research on caregivers’ perceptions of their child’s sleep disturbances, these disturbances’ influence on occupational engagement, and whether occupational therapists have collaborated with caregivers of children with ASD to treat this area of occupation. Collecting data from caregivers by using a questionnaire can provide occupational therapy (OT) practitioners the emphasis on healthy sleep habits to promote healthy occupational engagement for children with ASD. This project was pursued to see if all research questions relating to sleep, occupational therapy, and occupational engagement were answered.

Although rest and sleep are part of the OT practice framework, there is not enough literature to describe roles and caregivers’ perceptions to determine evidence for sleep interventions in children with ASD. This study will benefit caregivers to express their perceptions on how OT manages sleep difficulties to increase their children’s occupational engagement. The benefit of having more sleep resources available for these families can also assist caregiver stresses.

The questionnaire results suggested that there is a relationship between age of child and sleep disturbance, there is a relationship between a caregiver expressing concerns about their child’s sleep problems with their occupational therapist and receiving services to address sleep during the OT intervention, there is a relationship between a caregiver expressing concerns about their child’s sleep problems with their occupational therapist and receiving services to address sleep during the OT evaluation, and there is a relationship between sleep disturbances and occupational engagement. The findings from this quantitative study support an increased role for OT practitioners to address sleep in the initial evaluation and treatment sessions.

Comments

Capstone project submitted to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Occupational Therapy.

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