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Integrating Connection

A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Sensory Processing and Attachment

Walbam, Katherine M., PhD, LICSW

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000134
Original Research/Study

Attachment is considered a fundamental aspect of social and emotional development in children. Attachment is established, in part, through sensory processes, yet many children have unique sensory needs. The present study explores the association between sensory processing disorder and attachment by examining primary caregivers' perception of the attachment relationship with their children with SPD. Following a mixed-methods design, 24 self-identified primary caregivers completed 3 questionnaires: a demographic profile, a sensory processing profile, and an attachment-related questionnaire. Of those 24, 12 also completed a semistructured interview. The findings of this study suggest that a correlation exists between sensory processing and attachment measurement scores and specifically with 3 subscales of sensory processing: tactile sensitivity, auditory filtering, and responsiveness to stimuli. This correlation, however, appears to exist despite the fact that none of the children met the full criteria for insecure attachment, according to the attachment measure.

Simmons College, School of Social Work, Boston, Massachusetts.

Correspondence: Katherine M. Walbam, PhD, LICSW, Salem State University School of Social Work, 352 Lafayette St, Salem, MA 01970 (kwalbam@salemstate.edu).

Some funding for this study was provided by the Simmons College Student Research Fund. This research was conducted while at Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, as a dissertation study. This work was completed under the guidance of my committee members: Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, PhD, Simmons College School of Social Work; Committee Chair, Annette Correia, OTR/L, Children's Hospital Boston; Dana Grossman Leeman, PhD, Simmons College School of Social Work; and Gerald Koocher, PhD, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Quincy College. The author acknowledges no other conflicts of interest.

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