WHAT ARE THE IMPRESSIONS OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS WHO USE THE SHORT SENSORY PROFILE IN ASSESSMENTS FOR DIAGNOSIS OF FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDERS?
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Introduction: The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) released guidelines for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Diagnosis (FASD) in 2005 that attempted to equalize diagnostic practices across Canada. A multi-disciplinary neurodevelopmental assessment is expected and the occupational therapist must assess soft neurological signs, which includes sensory processing and motor development. In 2007, Northwest Partnership for FASD Research gathered a panel of OTs to consult on assessment tools who chose the Short Sensory Profile (SSP) as the main sensory processing assessment tool. Methods: Six qualitative interviews were completed for data collection. The inclusion criterion for the participants were involvement with a FASD diagnostic team and familiarity with the SSP. Qualitative data from the interviews was coded for likeness and analyzed for themes. Results: Three main themes developed from this research including: “Uncertainties about the FASD Diagnostic Process”, “Questioning the Validity of the Assessment Tool SSP” and “Strengths of the SSP”. The overaching theme that emerged was that the participants were attempting to find balance in many different ways throughout their assessments. While participants predominantly focused on concerns, they also indicated that the SSP is our best option at this time. Conclusions: Participants were not completely satisfied with using the SSP for FASD diagnostic assessments but will continue to use it. It was suggested that the panel of occupational therapists should reconvene and consider further options for assessment of sensory processing for FASD diagnostic assessments. There were also considerations for occupational therapy university education and continuing education.