Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

Shelly J Lane


Occupational therapists theorize that behavioral responses to sensory stimuli are reflective of a child’s underlying ability to process sensory information in a manner that allows the child to engage in childhood occupations meaningfully. If a child’s ability to process sensory information is compromised, then occupational performance is compromised. Similarly if coping skills are less than adequate, successful engagement in occupations is limited. What is less clear is how sensory modulation and coping interact to influence occupational performance. This study examined the interplay between sensory modulation, coping, and occupational performance in a sample of children referred for sensory processing difficulties. Two hundred sixty children, ages 4 – 9 years of age, referred to Occupational Therapy Associates at The Koomar Center in Watertown, MA, for sensory processing concerns were examined for Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD), coping abilities, and occupational performance. Results indicate that while sensory modulation is a strong predictor of occupational performance, it only accounts for approximately 20% of the variance in this model. As such, there are additional factors that contribute to occupational performance; these were not identified in the current study. Children with SMD appear to have mild coping deficits, and the interaction between the two, SMD and coping, remains unclear. Additional exploratory analyses revealed significant overlap between subtypes of SMD. Findings from this study laid the foundation for an emerging model reflecting the coping process of children with SMD. Testing the model in future studies will help elucidate these relationships.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013