McKenzie Dye

Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sclinda Janssen

Second Advisor

Wanda Lauer


Meeting Sensory Needs: A childcare provider’s guide to support sensory strategies in the daycare setting.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to create a supplemental sensory guide to support childcare providers in creating a sensory rich environment. This product incorporated the expertise of occupational therapy to create a sensory guide that outlines a sensory activity bank and environmental modifications.

Background: A high percentage of children in childcare experience sensory related difficulties that hinder their performance in daily activities. Many children in daycare who have sensory processing difficulties are being treated as if they have behavior problems, which can have serious negative effects on their development. Wilmot (2020) emphasized that people who work with children often find themselves wondering if the child is experiencing sensory difficulties or if this is bad behavior. This causes the child to be at a higher risk of developing delays or even considered the disobedient in the classroom because their sensory needs are not met. In addition, having excessive amounts of sensory stimulation is likely to result in dysregulated mood and social skills that are not well developed (Ryan et al., 2017). Therefore, it is very important for childcare providers to address sensory needs with children. However, these services are lacking in most daycare curriculum. Bodison et al (2017) asserted, there is a lack of sensory related services in childcare that provide integration of sensory activities into their daily routine. This scholarly project will focus on the unique perspective of occupational therapy by creating a sensory-based guide along with environmental modifications that are universally designed for daycare centers.

Methods: A needs assessment was conducted to assess the gap between daycare programs and sensory needs being met. Then, additional literature was reviewed as more was uncovered about the population’s needs. The main focus of the literature review was to provide relevant evidence to reveal the problems in occupational terms. These areas of occupation included learning and play skills in children who experience sensory disturbances in the childcare setting. Additionally, this also led to finding another problem that included a lack of childcare provider training on how to work with children with sensory processing difficulties.

Results: The product was based off of a few theoretical models which include the Ecology of Human Performance model (Dunn, 2017), Cole’s Seven Steps (Cole, 2018), and the Self-Regulation and Mindfulness Hierarchy (Gibbs, 2017). The product, called Meeting Sensory Needs: A Childcare Provider’s Guide to Support Sensory Strategies in the Daycare Setting, provides the childcare provider with a guide that includes two sections. Section I includes information on how to modify the environment to best support children’s sensory needs. Sections II utilized Cole’s Seven steps to outline a bank of sensory activities. Both sections work together to create a positive atmosphere in the daycare setting (Cole, 2018).

Conclusion: This guide will provide support for childcare providers in their daily routines in the classroom. It is a unique product as it uses the expertise of occupational therapy to aid childcare providers in creating the optimal environment, both physically and socially. Limitations regarding the product include a lack of pilot testing on the product to understand long-term effects and the lack of clinical experience of the author. The authors goal is to have future students continue the use and distribution of the product with other facilities with the same population.