Master of Science (MS)
Semester of Degree Completion
Gail J. Richard
Previous research has investigated the effects of tactile stimulation on autistic behavior in the realm of occupational therapy (McClure, & Holtz-Yotz, 1991; Zissermann, 1991); however, no studies were found which investigated the effects of tactile stimulation on autistic behavior within the realm of speech-language pathology. This study was conducted to examine the effects of tactile stimulation on task-related behaviors and language comprehension.
The subjects were two school-aged males with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Autism) grouped for speech-language therapy. The subjects exhibited difficulties in modulating sensory input in the areas of tactile/proprioceptive functioning, as assessed by an occupational therapist. Both subjects were given tactile stimulation in the form of stress balls to use during a receptive/expressive language comprehension activity. The frequency of task-related behaviors was recorded, as judged by the number of off-task behaviors and extraneous physical behaviors, when tactile stimulation was provided and absent. In addition, language comprehension was assessed by recording the number of task-related verbalizations and non-task-related verbalizations when tactile stimulation was present and absent. Finally, the frequency of appropriate and inappropriate utilization of tactile stimulation was recorded as well.
Results of the study revealed a significant difference between the frequency of off-task behaviors and the presence of tactile stimulation. When tactile stimulation was provided, the number or off-task behaviors decreased as compared to when tactile stimulation was not provided. In addition, a significant difference was found between the frequency of extraneous physical behaviors and the presence of tactile stimulation. When tactile stimulation was provided, the number of physical movements decreased as compared to when tactile stimulation was not provided. A significant difference was not found between task-related verbalizations and non-task-related verbalizations when tactile stimulation was provided. Finally, results revealed a significant difference between appropriate and inappropriate use of tactile stimulation, indicating that when tactile stimulation was provided it was used appropriately.
These findings suggest that the use of tactile stimulation could be successful in reducing the frequency of off-task behaviors in certain individuals with autism, which could, consequently, facilitate improved attention to educational tasks. In addition, when tactile stimulation is provided to individuals with autism, it could significantly reduce the frequency of extraneous physical behaviors displayed; consequently, the amount of disruptions caused by the student and others around the student would be reduced. These implications could be of assistance to individuals providing educational related services to individuals with autism.
Patterson, Lynn A., "Assessing the Effectiveness of Tactile Stimulation for Task-Related Behaviors and Language Comprehension on Two Children with Autism" (1998). Masters Theses. 1712.