Date of Graduation

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department/Program

Special Education

First Advisor

Nicola McClung

Second Advisor

Emily Nusbaum

Third Advisor

Christine Yeh

Abstract

Results from previous research studies suggest that inclusive settings benefit all learners. However, general education teachers often do not have built in supports within the classroom to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Implementing a sensory diet curriculum (SDC) is one instructional practice that addresses needs of students with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, and could be applied widely for students without disabilities. Sensory regulation is defined as the body’s physiological process of adapting arousal or alertness levels to cope with sensory events and situational demands that occur throughout the day. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of embedding a SDC within an existing kindergarten center time routine for students with and without disabilities. The current investigation used a single-subject research design with a modified withdrawal phase as well as the calculation of effect size using the NAP approach to examine the effectiveness of the embedded SDC on transitions between and participation during center time tasks. In addition, a three-point rubric measured teacher implementation consistency during the two intervention phases. Observations and student perspectives also provide context and social validity to this research study. Results include that students engaged in the SDC when provided with a variety of cues including visual, verbal, and auditory prompts. Time to transition and time spent participating in tasks also improved progressively for most participating students. Teachers demonstrated adequate implementation consistency of the SDC. The results suggest that addressing sensory regulation with a whole-classroom approach can support the individual needs of students with sensory regulation difficulties as well as provide benefits to all students in inclusive settings. Implications for future research and practical applications center on bringing a more in-depth discussion about sensory regulation and incorporating a sensory perspective that not only links the SDC to existing classroom expectations and norms, but changes the conversation on creating inclusive and equitable school environments for all learners.

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