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Coffee and Chat: Research Study from Down Under: Impact of a sensory activity schedule intervention on cognitive strategy use in autistic students: A school-based pilot study

teacher asking a question to the class

Join us on coffee and chat this week to hear about this study published recently in BJOT.

To access the recording sign up here if you are not already a member of the ASI Sharing the Evidence Space.

The recording will be up in the next 24 hours 😀 if you would like to access it please complete the google form below.

The recording will be up in the next 24 hours 😀 if you would like to access it please complete the google form below.

Hear from the study authors, Caroline J MillsChristine ChapparoJoanne Hinitt.

Christine Chapparo, an associate professor, trained in Ayres’ SI with Jean Ayres.

First Published January 10, 2021 Research Article

Article information 
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Autistic students may experience difficulty performing classroom tasks due to atypical sensory processing and inefficient use of higher-order cognitive strategies. Limited research has investigated the influence of in-class sensory activities to enhance the thinking strategies required for task performance. This study evaluated a classroom-based sensory activity schedule and its impact on cognitive strategy use.


A quasi-experimental, non-equivalent groups design was used. Students (n = 30, mean age 7.4 years) with atypical sensory processing negatively impacting classroom performance, and their teachers (n = 23), from six autism-specific schools were grouped into intervention (Sensory Activity Schedule and usual teaching) and control (usual teaching only) groups. Students’ cognitive strategy use during the performance of classroom tasks was evaluated at baseline and post-intervention using Perceive, Recall, Plan, Perform Stage Two Cognitive Task Analysis.


Statistical analysis (Mann–Whitney U test) indicated that students who received the Sensory Activity Schedule intervention improved significantly more than control group students in overall cognitive strategy use (Z = –2.32, p = 0.02), and with strategy items involving attention and sensory perception (perceive, Z = –2.26, p = 0.02), and planning and organisation (Plan, Z = –.254, p = 0.01).


The Sensory Activity Schedule may enhance autistic students’ capacity to apply cognitive strategies more effectively during performance of classroom tasks.

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