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Research in Recreational Therapy Practice: Findings and Lessons Learned from a Study of a Multisensory Environment for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Samantha Bova Toms, Megan C. Janke, David P. Loy, Clifton E. Watts


Little research has been conducted in practical settings by recreational therapists (RTs) to enhance evidence-based research in the field. There are many reasons for this, but one of these is the challenge of conducting research in a real-world, clinical setting. This study used a single subject research design to examine the effectiveness of using multisensory environments (MSE) to decrease repetitive behaviors in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study included three adults diagnosed with an intellectual disability and ASD who demonstrate repetitive patterns of behavior. The outcomes of this study are presented, and the challenges and benefits of applied research in RT practice are discussed to provide “lessons learned” and guidance to other RT practitioners considering practice-based research studies. 

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Intellectual disability; recreational therapy; repetitive behavior; sensory intervention; single-subject design

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