Eligible studies had to contain at least one participant diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and had to evaluate some form of sensory integration therapy that aimed to decrease symptoms, improve quality of life, increase access to typical environments (such as school or community) and/or improve academic performance. Therapy had to involve at least one of weighted vests, swinging, brushing, joint compression and/or alternative seating (such as therapy balls). Studies of multicomponent interventions were eligible.
Around half of the included studies evaluated multicomponent interventions. Most participants were male (where reported), diagnosed with autism (others were diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified and one had Asperger's syndrome) and were aged between two and 12 years. Information on intellectual disability was provided in around one quarter of studies and status was largely moderate or profound. Interventions were delivered mainly by occupational therapists and (where reported) took place in classrooms (approximately half of the studies), clinical therapy rooms or specially adapted sensory integration therapy rooms (one quarter of studies). Outcomes included assessments of self-stimulatory and/or stereotypic behaviours, communication and language skills, social and emotional skills and a number of other skill deficits associated with autism spectrum disorder (reported in the paper).
Three reviewers were involved in study selection. Disagreements were resolved by discussion.