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Background/Purpose: Children who experience trauma or neglect in early childhood often experience delays in multiple areas of development. One area that may be affected from experiencing early deprivation or trauma is the ability to process sensory stimuli. Sensory differences have been recorded in parental reports and clinical observations of children who have experienced trauma, however the current body of literature supporting this finding is minimal (Purvis, McKenzie, Cross, & Razuri, 2013). With the population of children and youth within the treatment foster care system increasing in size, clinicians are looking to the research for evidence based, trauma informed strategies, and interventions. This study examines the types of sensory processing skill deficits commonly found within the population of children in treatment foster care and the possible implications on attachment and social behaviors. Methods: This retroactive analysis study was conducted using the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM) home form, completed by the treatment foster care parents for 26 children, ages 4-14, enrolled at La Familia-Namaste. Results: Analysis showed a significant amount of children (81%) to have a total t-score ranging in Some Problems or Definite Dysfunction. All 26 children had either Some Problems or Definite Dysfunction in the subtest for social participation, and 84% of children had either Some Problems or Definite Dysfunction on the subtest for Planning and Ideas. Age, gender, and length of placement had no significant effects on the total sensory t-scores. Conclusions: Children within the treatment foster care system are likely to have some difficulties in sensory processing as well as definite impairments in social participation. Services focused on social skills training are indicated for this population as well as individualized evaluation of sensory needs. Trauma-informed attachment-based interventions may be informed by the results of this study, however, implementation of sensory interventions to affect attachment requires further research.


Poster presented at the University of New Mexico Occupational Therapy Research Poster Day, April 20th, 2016, Albuquerque, NM.